Will This Be Corvette Racing’s Finest (24) Hour?

June 13, 2015

Will This Be Corvette Racing’s Finest (24) Hour?

June 13, 2015

Corvette64Following Jan Magnussen’s heavy crash in Thursday evening’s qualifying session, and unable to make the necessary repairs on site, Corvette Racing was forced to withdraw the No. 63 Corvette C7.R from the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The car is en route to the team’s Michigan headquarters, where it will be repaired and refurbished before the next round of the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship at Watkins Glen International on June 28.

The withdrawal of the No. 63 Corvette has certainly impacted the team’s chances for success at Le Mans. Magnussen is a four-time Le Mans class winner and co-driver Antonio Garcia has three class victories at the Circuit de la Sarthe. Together they have posted six GTLM class wins in the last 13 TUDOR Championship races and lead the series’ 2015 driver standings nearing the season’s midway point.

Corvette 64_DriversDespite this setback, all is not lost in the Corvette camp. In fact, to paraphrase Apollo 13 mission commander Gene Kranz, this could become Corvette Racing’s finest (24) hour. The team and the vast Corvette Nation will now unite to focus all of its attention and support on the No. 64 Corvette driven by Oliver Gavin, Tommy Milner, and Jordan Taylor.

The talented and highly experienced Corvette Racing team, led by team manager Gary Pratt, has seven Le Mans class wins to its credit. Now in its second season of competition, the Corvette C7.R has proven to be both fast and reliable. Magnussen and Garcia led a team 1-3 finish at the season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona. The remaining No. 64 Corvette has a strong driver lineup headed by two-time Le Mans winner Oliver Gavin, who is making his 15th appearance in the 24-hour classic. Gavin is paired with 2011 Le Mans winner Tommy Milner and former Grand Am champion Jordan Taylor, who is making his fourth Le Mans start – all with Corvette Racing.

Rallying to overcome adversity is not unprecedented at Le Mans.

In 2011, Audi and Peugeot were engaged in a mighty battle. Each had three factory cars entered, while Peugeot had a fourth chess piece, a year-old car in the hands of Hugues de Chaunac and his Oreca team that had won at Sebring.

Corvette-Generic02Early in the race, Audi’s Allan McNish had a massive crash as his car skittered across the gravel into the tire barriers and nearly vaulted over the guardrail.

That left Audi with two cars to Peugeot’s four. Audi suffered another blow near midnight when Mike Rockenfeller was involved in vicious crash.

With two garage doors down, Audi Sport team leader Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich and technical director Ralf Juettner rallied the entire Audi Sport team, drivers, engineers and crews behind its sole surviving car. The result was the first victory for Audi drivers Marcel Fassler, Benoit Treluyer and Andre Lotterer, along with female race engineer Lena Gade.

So, as Corvette Racing program manager Doug Fehan, technical director Doug Louth, team manager Pratt, and the entire team focus their attention on the remaining car, they may also want to recall the immortal words of actor John Belushi in Animal House: “It ain’t over until we say it’s over.” And at the end of the 24-hour race, this may be Corvette Racing’s finest hour.

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