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CORVETTE RACING AT LE MANS: Corvettes Complete 24 Hours
Fourth, seventh place in final Le Mans for C6.R with new car looming for ‘14
LE MANS, France (June 23, 2013) – Corvette Racing and its two Compuware Corvette C6.Rs completed the most demanding auto race in the world today by finishing in the top seven of the GTE Pro class at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Antonio Garcia, Jan Magnussen and Jordan Taylor brought home the No. 73 Compuware Corvette in fourth place after starting seventh. It was a remarkable comeback that saw the trio pick up three spots in the final six hours. The No. 74 Compuware Corvette finished seventh with Oliver Gavin, Jan Magnussen and Richard Westbrook driving.
All six drivers and the two crews weathered constantly changing conditions and 10 safety car periods – most of which required long runs behind the safety cars. No one in either garage could remember such a volatile event.
“Chevrolet was truly honored to compete in the 90th anniversary of the 24 Hours of Le Mans,” said Jim Campbell, Chevrolet U.S. Vice President, Performance Vehicles and Motorsports. “While it certainly was a challenging 24-hour event, I am proud that the entire Corvette Racing team exhibited a ‘never give up’ approach all race long. We look forward to returning next year for the 15th time at Le Mans and our first with the next-generation Corvette race car.”
Typical Le Mans attrition began to enter the equation in the last quarter of the race. After running seventh and eighth for much of the first 18 hours, the Corvettes crept up the standings as other entries began to fall off. By the 23-hour mark, both cars ranked among the top five in the class thanks to an aggressive wet tire strategy when rain began to pelt the circuit again.
Taylor outpaced ex-F1 pilot Giancarlo Fisichella to hold on to the fourth position over the final 20 minutes. Unfortunately, Oliver Gavin had to pit the No. 74 Corvette due to an exhaust issue. Rather than risk near-certain damage, the team elected to pit and send Gavin back out for the final lap.
Corvette Racing returns to American competition July 5-6 for the American Le Mans Northeast Grand Prix at Lime Rock Park, the fourth round of the American Le Mans Series.
American Le Mans Northeast Grand Prix (all times ET)
• Qualifying: 4:35 p.m., Friday, July 5
• Race: 3 p.m., Saturday, July 6
Lime Rock: Watch It!
Friday, July 5-Saturday, July 6 (all times ET)
• Qualifying: 4:25 p.m., Friday, July 5 (ESPN3)
• Race (TV): 3 p.m., Saturday, July 6 (ESPN2)
• Web: 2:45 p.m., Saturday, July 6 (ESPN3)
JAN MAGNUSSEN, NO. 73 COMPUWARE CORVETTE C6.R
“It has been a tough race. Obviously, Allan (Simonsen’s) fatal accident overshadows any race result. Even without the accident it has been a struggle for us all the way through. I think that if something comes of it, it will be from sheer determination and hard work by the whole team, carrying on as always even though it looked like we wouldn’t get anything out of this event. It says a lot about this team, the way they go about things, how hard they work and how they never give up.”
ANTONIO GARCIA, NO. 73 COMPUWARE CORVETTE C6.R
“We did the best we could do. We performed maybe not 100 percent but certainly 99 percent, which is something we can be proud of. Before the race we knew we probably didn’t have the base we needed to fight for victory. We were seventh or eighth for most of the time, but just by keeping running and everybody giving it his 100 percent best – drivers as well as mechanics – we made it. And as it sometimes happens, near the end the race came to us and we finished fourth, which is more than we could have hoped for.”
JORDAN TAYLOR, NO. 73 COMPUWARE CORVETTE C6.R
“It was a stressful last hour of the race. I went in when it was pouring but luckily the safety car came out because the spray was just horrible going down the Mulsanne and into Indianapolis (Corner). You could barely see the car in front of you, even behind the pace car. We sat like that for a while and then it went green with some 30 minutes to go, when it was fully dry again, but on wet tires. I think everybody was kind of managing that a bit and we were just able to maintain our gap (to the Ferrari behind). I don’t quite know what happened to the rest of the guys but somehow we came out fourth having started seventh. I think that was the best we could have done today.”
OLIVER GAVIN, NO. 74 COMPUWARE CORVETTE C6.R
“You can take some positives from this. The car in the end was very good when the track rubbered in. We hit the chassis right. The team did a fantastic job once again and rolled with the punches through the weather. It was one of the toughest 24 Hours that I’ve ever done in respect to the weather changes and choices in tires because the track was in between so many times. You had to wing it and take a big gamble sometimes. Unfortunately I think that’s one of the things that really contributed to Allan Simonsen’s accident – slippery and tricky conditions and wet curbs he got on to. It was an awful thing to see. The focus and aim now is defending the ALMS championship. By the end of the race when we were in fourth, fifth and sixth, we realized we didn’t want to risk the car possibly catching fire with the exhaust problem or me getting myself burned. It wasn’t really worth it so we cooled down and came in. There was frustration not being able to fight and race to the very end. But we will fight another day.”
TOMMY MILNER, NO. 74 COMPUWARE CORVETTE C6.R
“The team did a great job – period. We ran for 24 hours with no real mistakes. That’s what this race requires. The drivers did our job, the crew did their job – it just wasn’t our year, for sure. It’s a year like this where you learn a lot, you push hard no matter the conditions or situations and build character. I’ve never been part of a Le Mans that had conditions as difficult as this. They changed on every lap and on every corner. I’m really proud of all the guys at Corvette Racing – both crews and everyone involved. To perform in conditions like these shows how strong this team is.”
RICHARD WESTBROOK, NO. 74 COMPUWARE CORVETTE C6.R
“It was a hell of a team performance, as ever. It was great to get back to finishing ways in a 24-hour race. We know what we have to do next year, and we’re going to come back and do it. Sometimes you have a fast car, and we’ve had that the last couple years and didn’t execute. This year we executed with a car that was less fast. Next year we will have a fast car and we’re going to execute.”
DOUG FEHAN, CORVETTE RACING PROGRAM MANAGER
“This marked our 14th consecutive appearance at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. This year’s race provided the deepest field of competition and some of the most challenging conditions we’ve ever seen. Everything, considered, I could not be more proud of our guys for bringing home fourth- and seventh-place finishes – once again, demonstrating the durability and reliability that has made Corvette so successful. We can now move forward and look excitedly to defending our championship in the ALMS and then to our return to Le Mans next year with the all-new C7.R.”