Steady Running for Corvettes, Duel in Sixth Hour Ended by Safety Car
Corvette Racing’s Compuware Corvette C6.R race cars ran consistently at the front of the GT2 class throughout the first quarter of the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The sixth hour featured an intense battle for P1 between Emmanuel Collard in the No. 64 Corvette C6.R and Pierre Kaffer in the No. 82 Ferrari 430 GTC. After running within a car length for lap after lap, the duel was ended by a pit stop during a safety car period that temporarily split the two racers. The No. 63 Corvette C6.R was holding third after six hours of racing.
“We were fighting like it was a two-hour race,” Collard said. “I tried to push him to make a mistake, and he did at one point. They are a bit quicker than us in a straight line, so I was close but couldn’t overtake. I like the car, I think it will be better the longer we run.”
Oliver Gavin ran the first two stints in the No. 64 Corvette C6.R, handing off to Olivier Beretta shortly after the two-hour mark while leading the GT2 class. Gavin nearly matched his qualifying pace, running a 3:59 lap late in his run.
“It seems that the track was coming to us, the car was getting better, and things were improving for us,” Gavin said. “The car was a little unbalanced to start with, but then it came to us as the laps went on. It’s fraught out there with passing and being passed. There’s gravel on the track where people have gone off and you have to pick your way through that. I’m pleased with the way it’s gone so far, and glad that I could hand off the car to Olivier in a good position.”
The No. 64 Corvette exchanged the lead with the No. 82 Ferrari in the fourth hour. Olivier Beretta had a close call when Ferrari driver Gianmaria Bruni had a big moment in the second chicane on the Mulsanne Straight.
“He went straight on the grass, crossed the gravel, and nearly spun in front of me,” Beretta said. “I decided to go on the gravel to avoid the curb and save the car for the rest of the race. I’m happy about the car – if we really need to push later, I can go for it.”
No. 63 Corvette C6.R Quotes:
Jan Magnussen, No. 63 Compuware Corvette C6.R:
…after first double stint at 5 p.m., P2 in class: “It was a little bit difficult. The first stint [before refueling] was good, with good grip throughout. After refueling it was a little bit more difficult, as the car lost a bit of balance and speed. But we’ll just keep adjusting it throughout the race and take if from there.”
Johnny O’Connell, No. 63 Compuware Corvette C6.R:
…after first double stint at 7 p.m., P3 in class: “The car ran reasonably well, but we just don’t seem to get the fuel mileage. On my in-lap I had to feather the throttle and lift here and there to save fuel. Both Corvettes are evenly matched; there’s not much between the two cars. The [Risi] Ferrari might have a little on us, but the race is still long. It’s a good battle, though, that’s for sure. It will all be about whoever doesn’t make mistakes.”
Antonio Garcia, No. 63 Compuware Corvette C6.R:
…after his first double stint at 8:54 p.m., P3 in class: “It wasn’t too bad considering I lost some time getting out of the pits when I took over from Johnny. I had forgotten to switch on the ignition, and then I stalled. My mistake, I’m afraid. In my first stint I kept a steady pace, but in my second stint I got held up for some time by a GT1 car of which the driver was spending more time looking in his rearview mirrors than at the road ahead of him. But the car is OK and the race is still long.”
Bondurant School of High Performance Driving
Photo Credit: Richard Prince / GM Racing
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