Corvette Racing will roll off from the fifth and seventh rows of an extremely deep and challenging GTE Pro field when the green flag flies for the start of the 86th running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans on Saturday. Already with eight victories and 19 consecutive event starts to its credit, the team hopes it can add to its record come Sunday afternoon.
Two final qualifying sessions Thursday helped set the 60-car field, which features 17 production-based entries in the GTE Pro category. Antonio Garcia improved his time from Wednesday’s lone session by a half-second Thursday in the No. 63 Mobil 1/SiriusXM Chevrolet Corvette C7.R.
A three-time Le Mans winner, Garcia set his best time of the week – 3:50.242 (xx mph) – in the opening half of the final qualifying session Thursday. It moved the No. 63 Corvette, which Garcia will drive with Jan Magnussen and Mike Rockenfeller, from 11th to ninth on the GTE Pro grid.
The No. 64 Mobil 1/SiriusXM Chevrolet Corvette C7.R of Oliver Gavin, Tommy Milner and Marcel Fässler will start 14tth in class, thanks to Milner’s time Wednesday of 3:50.952 (131.979 mph).
Thursday’s first qualifying session featured two red-flag periods – including one that brought an early end to the period – and multiple yellow-flagged zones. The two Corvettes only recorded two laps at full speed during the 90 minutes, and even those saw traffic impeded both entries.
The second session was cleaner with a number of cars able to better their times. Rain fell inside the final hour, however, which put further improvements out of reach. Even after the prime window closed for fast laps, Corvette Racing engineers and crew worked toward fine-tuning the race setup package for Saturday and Sunday in hopes of contending for a ninth victory.
ANTONIO GARCIA, NO. 63 MOBIL 1/SiriusXM CHEVROLET CORVETTE C7.R: “We continued to work according to the plan we’ve worked with since yesterday. 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. The only downside was that Rocky (Mike Rockenfeller) didn’t get as much seat time as we would have liked… again because of all the yellows and then the rain. We’ll see what happens Saturday and Sunday. It will be a long and tough race.”
Source. Corvette Racing