In 19 years of competing at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Corvette Racing has experienced both disappointment and achievement. The constant in each case, though, is the drive of those on the program to give maximum effort each and every appearance.
That was on display again this year at the 86th running of the French endurance classic. Corvette Racing showed its mettle in the face of adversity as it fought for a ninth class victory at Le Mans. It wasn’t meant to be as Antonio Garcia, Jan Magnussen and Mike Rockenfeller finished fifth in the GTE Pro category with their No. 63 Mobil 1/SiriusXM Chevrolet Corvette C7.R.
“All race long, the Corvette Racing C7.R teams never gave up,” said Jim Campbell, Chevrolet U.S. Vice President, Performance Vehicles and Motorsports. “We know all the lows and highs of Le Mans, including our eight class victories here. We race at Le Mans to win, and we also race to learn. That is no different this year. The learnings from Le Mans will help us as we strive to continually improve. We look forward to getting back on track at Watkins Glen.”
Campbell added: “Our race team appreciates the support from Corvette owners and fans from all over world.”
The No. 63 team scraped and clawed for positions the entire 24 hours. Garcia began the race ninth, and the Corvette never fell below that the entire way. Despite lacking overall pace all three drivers, the crew and race engineers worked tirelessly to hover around the top-five before the Corvette settled into fifth place inside the final quarter of the race.
The tale of the No. 64 Corvette began to unfold early. Gavin fell back to 15th at the start but rebounded nicely to 12th before experiencing trouble with the right-front suspension. He handed over to Milner after a double-stint; however the team brought the Corvette back to the pits and into the garage after Milner reported severe handling issues.
The stop resulted in four laps lost, but it didn’t take the fight out of the No. 64 team. From 17th place, the Gavin/Milner/Fässler trio put in solid stints to go along with excellent stops and brake changes from the Corvette crew. Well into the third quarter of the race, however, the No. 64 Corvette began to show signs of an engine overheating condition that ultimately resulted in the car’s retirement from the race.
There’s little time for rest and recovery. Corvette Racing returns to competition in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship with the Sahlen’s Six Hours at The Glen from Watkins Glen International on June 29-July 1.
ANTONIO GARCIA, NO. 63 MOBIL 1/SiriusXM CHEVROLET CORVETTE C7.R: “This is classic Le Mans. You only want to win! This is the kind of race you either win or lose. We fought all the way to the end. The level of competition is so high that you see five, six or seven cars within the final two hours that have a chance to win. The safety car periods didn’t help us, and that makes the race even more full-attack. It makes things very intense and hard. We were unlucky with losing some track position earlier. Once you fall behind and get into slow zones, it’s difficult to compensate to make up time. Plus with new pit stop and stint-length rules, there is very limited strategies. But we can be proud of what we did. Other cars were faster over the race, and all you can do is congratulate them.”
JAN MAGNUSSEN, NO. 63 MOBIL 1/SiriusXM CHEVROLET CORVETTE C7.R: “It was a tough race against tough competition. The team did a fantastic job before as well as during the race. The car felt really good from Sunday morning onwards, but during the night it was tough. It would have been a different race for us, of course, had the safety car situations panned out differently, but that’s how it is and there’s nothing you can do about it.”
MIKE ROCKENFELLER, NO. 63 MOBIL 1/SiriusXM CHEVROLET CORVETTE C7.R: “At the end of the day, starting ninth and finishing in fifth in the toughest GTE Pro class this race has even seen is nothing to be ashamed of. Obviously our goal was different and at certain stages in the race we were really competitive. Unfortunately the safety cars split the GTE group in two and basically decided the race, which is a bummer except of course for the ones that got lucky. It’s part of the race of course, and it’s happened here before. Apart from that it’s been a great experience for me to do my first Le Mans with the Corvette team. I’ve learned a lot and still have a lot to learn about the Corvette. In the end we did our best, made no mistakes, not on the track nor in the pit, so we have nothing to be ashamed of.”
OLIVER GAVIN, NO. 64 MOBIL 1/SiriusXM CHEVROLET CORVETTE C7.R: “It’s disappointing and unfortunate that we’ve had this overheating condition. It was fantastic work by the team and crew to get over a number of hurdles… a suspension problem and some other little issues. But you see how deep they’ll go and how hard they’ll go to get it back on track to let us compete. We will learn from all the things that have happened today to come back stronger and better. Le Mans is a brutally tough race. You sometimes feel that things just don’t go your way. But there are also many times where things have gone our way – eight victories and a fantastic win for Tommy and I in 2015. We were hoping to have another one today but unfortunately not.”
TOMMY MILNER, NO. 64 MOBIL 1/SiriusXM CHEVROLET CORVETTE C7.R: “It’s a frustrating end for us given the time and effort that is put into this one race when it doesn’t go according to plan. I know it’s frustrating for all of us on the team. Having the issue we did early in the race set us back, but the car felt really good during the race and was still able to have some fun with some of the cars around us. Even so, the result isn’t wasn’t we were expecting. Our Corvette was competitive at all stages of the race. We’ll learn, improve and be better next year.”
MARCEL FÄSSLER, NO. 64 MOBIL 1/SiriusXM CHEVROLET CORVETTE C7.R: “It was quite tough for everyone working on the team. The Corvette has shown it is quite reliable and it has shown that for many years. Unfortunately racing can be hard and tough for anyone at time. It shows again how proud everyone can be when you are honored to win this race; it shows how much you have to bring together to be successful. You cannot take things for granted. The race is tough and the competition is high. You can only win if every part comes together 100 percent. This was not our weekend but I know we will come back stronger next year.”
Source. Corvette Racing