Photo courtesy of IMSA

Corvette Racing looks for ninth Le Mans crown in its 20th anniversary

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Few recent entities have become more synonymous with sports car racing, and the 24 Hours of Le Mans, than Corvette Racing has in the 21st century.

With over 100 total wins, 12 manufacturer and team championships, 11 drivers’ championships, and eight Le Mans wins, the Corvette marque has quickly become one of the most storied and accomplished ones in the history of sports car racing.

The 2018 season marks the team’s 20th anniversary, and everyone is motivated to commemorate the landmark occasion with their ninth Le Mans crown.

“I said the first time I won there in ’11 that it was like nothing I’d ever won before, and I don’t think that I truly appreciated what that meant until I was fortunate to win it again in ’15. Because then I felt like I remembered everything that happened,” said two-time Le Mans class winner Tommy Milner, who drives the No. 64 C7.R with Oliver Gavin and Marcel Fassler.

Milner added, “I felt like the first time I won there, you’re just in a total blur. You walk out on the podium, everything happens, you’re done and the next thing you know is you wake up the next morning. Then, it kind of hits you a little bit. So, winning the second time allowed me to sort of enjoy and appreciate what happens and everything that goes along with the win. It’s incredible.”

The 2018 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship has seen only one victory for Corvette – at Long Beach with Gavin and Milner – but Gavin is confident that the IMSA effort, even if it hasn’t yielded as many victories as they’d like, has them well-prepared for this year’s Le Mans.

“Racing in IMSA has prepared us really well for going to Le Mans. The level of competition in North America is exceptionally high, and I’m confident that any of the teams from IMSA would be able to compete at the front with any of the (FIA World Endurance Championship) teams; there’s no real difference in the level of racing in WEC versus our GT Le Mans class. It’s the case at Le Mans that there are more cars than ever before in our GTE Pro category,” Gavin asserted.

The No. 63 Corvette, with Jan Magnussen, Antonio Garcia, and Mike Rockenfeller, qualified ninth in the GTE-Pro class, while the No. 64 of Gavin, Milner, and Fessler starts 14th.

While the team desired stronger qualifying results, Garcia thinks a slew of issues out of their control – stoppages from on-track incidents in the second qualifying session and a rain shower in the third – are what ultimately prevented them from qualifying better, and he asserted that they will be contenders come race time.

“We continued to work according to the plan we worked with since yesterday,” said Garcia after qualifying. “It’s a shame, though, that we had so many yellows and slow zones, as well as two red flags in the second qualifying session. Each time it stopped our rhythm.

“We got extra time for the third qualifying session, but that was then cut short by the rain. We made some progress with the car and gathered loads of data. With all we collected, we are confident we can make the right decision for Saturday, so I’m kind of happy with where we are.”

Full qualifying results for the entire Le Mans field can be found here. The race begins at 8:00 a.m. on Saturday.

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Bob Fernley announced as president of McLaren IndyCar

Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images
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Bob Fernley will bring his experience as former deputy team principal at Force India F1 to McLaren Racing’s IndyCar effort in 2019.

Fernley will report directly to McLaren Racing’s CEO Zak Brown.

“Heading back to the Brickyard will be a very special experience for me,” Fernley said at IndyCar.com. “I am proud to be leading this McLaren project and team. The 500 is a hell of a challenge and we have incredibly strong competitors to overcome if we’re to be successful. We will need to prepare well for the month of May and that work starts now.”

Fernley’s appointing come of the heels of last week’s announcement that McLaren will create a brand new team to compete in the 2019 Indy 500.

MORE: Fernando Alonso to return to Indy 500 in 2019

For now, Fernley’s responsibility is to create an entry that is capable of allowing two-time F1 champion Fernando Alonso to win the Indy 500 in just his second start. But speculation has been widespread that the entry will be a jumping off point for a much broader involvement in IndyCar.

In 2017, Alonso qualified on the middle of row two (fifth), led 27 laps and succumbed to mechanical failure. His effort was impressive enough to be name Rookie of the Year for the Indy 500.

“Bob is a fantastic operator and someone I respect greatly,” Brown said. “His experience and leadership will be essential for us on this project. He is particularly talented at putting effective teams together and extracting maximum performance with finite resources. The Indy 500 is no easy race and Bob’s is a key role, so I’m delighted he’s on board.”