One of America’s fastest production street cars will once again be in the global spotlight as the Corvette Racing prepares for what it hopes will be its ninth career win in the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the 100th win overall for the Corvette program.
Corvette Racing has eight wins in 16 races at Le Mans, making it the top GT team. Plus, it’s looking to pick up where it left off in last season’s 24 Hours event, with Oliver Gavin and Tommy Milner winning the GTE Pro class by a five-lap margin in the No. 64 Corvette.
“There is a reason we have won here eight times: we operate as a unified team that focuses on winning regardless of the odds,” Corvette Racing program manager Doug Fehan said in a media release. “This has the potential to be the hardest-fought GT race in Le Mans history and we at Corvette Racing, along with all our fans, can’t wait for that green flag to drop!”
Corvette Racing is already off to a good start: Antonio Garcia set the fastest time in class in this year’s Test Day in the No. 63 Corvette C7.R, which he’ll co-drive with Ricky Taylor and Jan Magnussen. Meanwhile, the No. 64 Corvette sister car was fourth-quickest on Test Day with Gavin at the controls.
“The Test Day went very smooth and we ran through our program,” Garcia said. “We have to do what we can to make the car stronger because all the other teams will do the same. We’ve had years in the past where we have had a lot of cars.
“But this year is as tough as I can remember. The main thing is that no matter the other manufacturers, you need to win. I’m confident. As a team we won the first two big races of the year: Daytona and Sebring. So I’m hoping to repeat what we did last year and win at Le Mans.”
Corvette Racing is going for its sixth consecutive Triple Crown win, having previously captured the Rolex 24 At Daytona (2015, 2016), Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring (2015, 2016) and 24 Hours of Le Mans (2015). That streak is part of an overall 21-race victory string in Triple Crown events.
“Having a good test with no mechanical issues makes race week that much less stressful,” Milner said. “You can focus on the details of the race, getting all three drivers cycled through and not worrying about finding extra speed.
“That’s what we had last year. We had a Corvette that was comfortable and fast. Jordan (Taylor) came in and was on-pace right away, which is obviously good. Going back there with the same driver lineup leaves us feeling pretty confident that we can achieve that again.”
The six drivers – Gavin, Milner, Magnussen, Garcia, Jordan Taylor and Ricky Taylor – have 52 combined starts at Le Mans with 15 victories between them. Gavin has the most (five, all with Corvette Racing), along with four by Magnussen (also all with Corvette Racing) while Garcia has three (two with Corvette Racing), Milner two (both with Corvette Racing) and Jordan Taylor’s win last year.
“This is my 17th Le Mans and I don’t think there is one that has been the same as another,” Magnussen said. “It is the nature of the race – the track, the weather and your competitors are all different each year.
“We are pretty satisfied following the Test Day. The Corvette showed good speed over one lap but also we did a lot of work on long runs with our race setup. So I feel we are very prepared. The thing about Le Mans is that once you get to the race there are so many variables that are out of your control and are difficult to account for. You have to trust the engineers, crew and your own abilities to make it through.”
Corvette Racing 24 Hours of Le Mans Record
|2nd||GTS||Corvette C5-R||Fellows/O’Connell/ Papis|
|2010||10th (DNF)||GT2||Corvette C6.R||Gavin/Beretta/Collard|
|12th (DNF)||GT2||Corvette C6.R||O’Connell/Magnussen/Garcia|
|2011||1st||GTE Pro||Corvette C6.R||Beretta/Milner/Garcia|
|14th (DNF)||GTE Pro||Corvette C6.R||Gavin/Magnussen/Westbrook|
|2012||5th||GTE Pro||Corvette C6.R||Garcia/Magnussen/Taylor|
|6th||GTE Pro||Corvette C6.R||Gavin/Milner/Westbrook|
|2013||4th||GTE Pro||Corvette C6.R||Garcia/Magnussen/Taylor|
|7th||GTE Pro||Corvette C6.R||Gavin/Milner/Westbrook|
|2014||2nd||GTE Pro||Corvette C7.R||Garcia/Magnussen/Taylor|
|4th||GTE Pro||Corvette C7.R||Gavin/Milner/Westbrook|
|2015||DNS||GTE Pro||Corvette C7.R||Garcia/Magnussen/Briscoe|
|1st||GTE Pro||Corvette C7.R||Gavin/Milner/Taylor|
|Totals||8 wins||16 starts|