Return of the prodigal Corvette

June 26, 2015

Return of the prodigal Corvette

June 26, 2015

Corvette3_02The good news for Corvette Racing: The No. 64 Corvette C7.R won the GTE Pro class at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The bad news: The sister No. 63 Corvette C7.R sustained heavy damage in a crash during qualifying and was withdrawn from the world’s biggest sports car race.

The No. 63 has returned to competition at the Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen – now wearing the familiar No. 3 that it carries in the TUDOR Championship. The drivers are also familiar, with GTLM points leaders Antonio Garcia and Jan Magnussen at the wheel. But it’s not the same Corvette C7.R that Garcia and Magnussen drove to victory in the Rolex 24 At Daytona and the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring.

Only three examples of the Corvette C7.R exist in the known universe. The car that was damaged in Le Mans is undergoing repairs at its birthplace, the Pratt & Miller headquarters in New Hudson, Mich. Last season’s No. 4 Corvette C7.R driven by Tommy Milner and Oliver Gavin was sold to Larbre Competition, a French team that has campaigned Corvettes successfully in Europe and around the globe in the World Endurance Championship.

Now the prodigal Corvette has returned.

“This car raced as the No. 4 car last year in the TUDOR series,” reported team manager Gary Pratt. “We leased it from Larbre for two races – Watkins Glen and Mosport. It was really great that Larbre let us do this.”

Ironically, the Larbre Corvette also was damaged in a crash at Le Mans, but the ace Pratt & Miller team performed emergency triage and readied the car for battle.

“The car arrived at our shop on Friday morning after Le Mans and it went right on the chassis plate,” said Pratt. “The fabricators finished the repairs on Friday afternoon, and it went to the crew on Saturday morning. By Saturday afternoon, it was up to date with the No. 4 car. We drove the car around the parking lot and loaded it on the truck to go to Watkins Glen.

“The No. 63 car that crashed at Le Mans is on the chassis plate now,” Pratt continued. “The main structure was fine, but we’re replacing the right-front and right-rear suspension nodes. That shows just how tough these cars are. Most of the time, you’d throw away the chassis after an impact like that.

“After we withdrew the No. 63 at Le Mans, I told the guys, ‘Only one car can win.’ It doesn’t matter how many you bring and how many you race – there’s only one winner.”

This year at Le Mans, it was the No. 64 Corvette. Now with two bullets in its gun, Corvette Racing is aiming for its fourth endurance racing victory of the year at Watkins Glen International.


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