In its 20th consecutive appearance at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Corvette Racing recorded its fastest lap in a decade around the fabled circuit Thursday on the final qualifying day for Saturday and Sunday’s race.
Antonio Garcia set a lap of 3:48.830 (132.849 mph) in the No. 63 Mobil 1/SiriusXM Chevrolet Corvette C7.R that he shares with Jan Magnussen and Mike Rockenfeller. A three-time winner at Le Mans – twice with Corvette Racing – Garcia set his best time in the final of three qualifying sessions.
The lap was good enough for the No. 63 Corvette to start third among 17 GTE Pro entries for Saturday’s 3 p.m. CET/9 a.m. ET race. Rockenfeller had been quickest in class at the annual Le Mans Test Day 10 days ago, and Garcia qualified within 0.830 seconds of the pole-winning car.
Teammate Oliver Gavin was the fastest driver in the No. 64 Mobil 1/SiriusXM Corvette C7.R with a lap of 3:49.573 (131.917 mph) that also was set in Thursday’s final session. The No. 64 Corvette – with Milner, Oliver Gavin and Marcel Fässler – will start 11th in class but it could have been much better as Gavin was stymied on his final two laps that had his Corvette trending toward the top-five.
Track conditions around the 8.49-mile circuit were at their peak Thursday with rain having moved out Wednesday. Garcia took advantage late in the opening session with his best time placing provisionally second in class. However, a number of teams set their best times of the day immediately at the beginning of the final session. After giving his teammates a chance to sample the setup of the Corvette, Garcia went out for the final 20 minutes and very nearly delivered pole position.
Milner had sights on moving up the charts early but caught the worst of traffic and yellow-flag sectors around the track during his quick run. As darkness grew, focused turned to race setup for Saturday and Sunday until the team sent out Gavin in the final minutes for a final qualifying shot.
The achievements by the collection of six Corvette Racing drivers can’t be matched by any other entrant at Le Mans. The group has combined for 19 victories – an exemplary record at Le Mans:
ANTONIO GARCIA, NO. 63 MOBIL 1/SiriusXM CHEVROLET CORVETTE C7.R – QUALIFIED THIRD IN GTE PRO:“It was interesting and difficult. We know how the session went with the amount of yellows and slow zones, so it was kind of a gamble that we could go on track and find a clear lap and just go for it. We decided to have another go (tonight) mainly because yesterday’s time got cancelled so we needed to have a run in the first session this evening. That put us in a position where, instead of doing the classic two attempts in the final session, we had to do one in the first session when the track wasn’t as good. I drove a pretty decent and pretty fast lap. It was pretty close between Porsche and us. We obviously went a bit faster in the last session, though I don’t know whether the conditions were really better. I don’t think we would have gotten pole, because those lap times were very, very strong. But if you look all around the field you see 12 cars within 1.5 seconds and I am just 0.8 off pole position, that’s pretty close. And that’s what we can expect for the race: a train of GTE cars. But luckily, we’re in the first part of the train, which will make things a little bit easier since we’ll be a little bit more in control rather than chasing all the time. I think it’s going to be a very interesting 24 Hours, with 15 laps per hour and many cars nose to tail.”
OLIVER GAVIN, NO. 64 MOBIL 1/SiriusXM CHEVROLET CORVETTE C7.R – QUALIFIED 11TH IN GTE PRO:“We’ve had quite a fraught couple of days on the No. 64 Corvette with punctures and damage. The crew has worked super-hard to straighten things out and get us ready for today, and we all need to thank them for that. We were running through a program and Tommy was so unlucky; every time he went out to do a qualifying run, he was so unlucky. He was getting balked, getting traffic, red flags, slow zones… I think he came in and waved the white flag and said we needed to get myself and Marcel some laps, which was very decent of him. I was out there end and our engineer came on the radio and asked if we should give it one last shot. It’s always magic to drive around here with low fuel and good tires. We were getting some breaks but other things were just utterly ridiculous with the driving standards. We were on two really good laps but had people ahead of me who wanted to wreck our laps. You don’t want to see that. But I’m pleased we were a little farther up the grid; I think that last lap would have close to where Antonio ended. That’s the way things roll around Le Mans. Once again, thanks to the guys for sticking with us and pushing, pushing, pushing.”
Source. Corvette Racing