Corvette Racing looking for sixth consecutive Triple Crown win at Le Mans

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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

Year Finish Class Car Drivers
2000 3rd GTS Corvette C5-R Pilgrim/Collins/Freon
4th GTS Corvette C5-R Fellows/Kneifel/Bell
2001 1st GTS Corvette C5-R Fellows/O’Connell/Pruett
2nd GTS Corvette C5-R Pilgrim/Collins/Freon
2002 1st GTS Corvette C5-R Fellows/O’Connell/Gavin
2nd GTS Corvette C5-R Pilgrim/Collins/Freon
2003 2nd GTS Corvette C5-R Gavin/Collins/Pilgrim
3rd GTS Corvette C5-R Fellows/O’Connell/Freon
2004 1st GTS Corvette C5-R Gavin/Beretta/Magnussen
2nd GTS Corvette C5-R Fellows/O’Connell/ Papis
2005 1st GT1 Corvette C6.R Beretta/Gavin/Magnussen
2nd GT1 Corvette C6.R Fellows/O’Connell/Papis
2006 1st GT1 Corvette C6.R Beretta/Gavin/Magnussen
7th GT1 Corvette C6.R Fellows/O’Connell/Papis
2007 2nd GT1 Corvette C6.R Fellows/O’Connell/Magnussen
14th GT1 Corvette C6.R Beretta/Gavin/Papis
2008 2nd GT1 Corvette C6.R Fellows/O’Connell/Magnussen
3rd GT1 Corvette C6.R Beretta/Gavin/Papis
2009 1st GT1 Corvette C6.R O’Connell/Magnussen/Garcia
4th GT1 Corvette C6.R Gavin/Beretta/Fassler
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

 

 

Max Verstappen, Sergio Perez and Formula One embrace the United States

Verstappen Perez United States
Jared C. Tilton / Getty Images
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Last week, Red Bull Racing revealed their new car, the RB19, and a new relationship with US-based Ford Motors in a press event in New York City complete with drivers Max Verstappen, Sergio Perez and Team Principle Christian Horner. They are the only Formula 1 team to launch in the United States, but even that small move of the needle reflects a major shift in the attitude of both F1’s management and their teams – and the extent to which the American audience has fully embraced the sport.

“It’s something fantastic and unique, for the sport to be able to break it into the U.S,” Perez told NBC Sports. “The market is huge and it’s a huge opportunity for everyone involved, for the drivers, for the team. It’s always a huge market.”

Verstappen Perez United States
Sergio Perez finished fourth in the Unites States Grand Prix, but he was first with the fans.  – Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

In 2023, Formula 1 will race three times in the United States and five times in North America. The Circuit of the Americas will host their 11th consecutive race in October before heading south to Mexico City. Miami returns for a second time in May on a temporary street course around the Hard Rock cafe and the third addition is in downtown Las Vegas in November.

With the Canadian Grand Prix on the schedule for June and the Brazilian Grand Prix in November, American fans are now in the ballpark of Europeans, who have eight events on the continent and one in England.

In 2022, Verstappen won every race in North America. He was kept from sweeping the hemisphere only by George Russell, who won in Brazil. That fact is less remarkable when one considers that Verstappen won 15 times in the season – nearly two-thirds of the races on the schedule.

By the time Formula arrived in Austin for Round 20 of 23, Verstappen had already wrapped up his second consecutive championship.

“Sometimes it can be hard to replicate the season, but I think it’s the same as with the car, right? You always try to improve it,” Verstappen told NBC Sports. “And I always look at the little details that even when you have had a good race, you could have done better. And then of course you also learn from the bad races. So we always try to look for these little improvements and general experience you gain year after year.

“You try to do better, but of course it also depends a lot on the package you have.”

Verstappen Perez United States
Max Verstappen United States Grand Prix win was one of 15 for the drivers and 17 for Red Bull.
(Gongora / NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Now Verstappen’s thoughts will inevitably turn to establishing a dynasty – and America will again play a pivotal role.

“I just enjoy what I’m doing,” Verstappen said.  “After the years in Formula One, when you have to be on top of your game and you gain a lot on your experience – in that sense nothing really can get to you anymore. Every year you just try to do the best you can. But a lot depends on the material around you. It’s always a bit of a guess. Start the season as fit as you can be and be well prepared. But if you don’t have the car, you’re not going to win the championship.”

Perez added two wins to Red Bull’s total, at Monaco and the Marina Bay Street course. With two of the US 2023 races on street courses, Perez hopes to close the gap on Verstappen and potentially be his principle rival for the championship.

“The strategy is clear; it is to maximize the potential of the car – and we believe we have a good car, but how good?,” Perez said “We don’t know what the competition is doing. We just give our best in building this car and we hope that it’s good enough to get us to win races.

“I think we have to work together as a team. At the same time. We both want to win the championship. It’s just having good compromise. The competition will be really strong out there, so we really need everything we possibly can get from each other.”

Formula One returns to the United States for Round 6 and the Miami Grand Prix on May 7.