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LE MANS, France (June 17, 2013) – Each year in the middle of June, the road-racing universe turns its eyes to the Sarthe region of France for the world’s most famous endurance event. Corvette Racing is back at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in search of its eighth class victory since 2001.
The two velocity yellow Compuware Corvette C6.R race cars undertook a successful test at Le Mans on Sunday, June 9. Jan Magnussen in the No. 73 Corvette set the team’s best time in of 3:59.491 (127.3 mph) to rank fifth in the GTE Pro class. The top six cars in the class were less than a second apart, a preview of how close and competitive things will be for the June 22-23 race.
Magnussen partners with full-season American Le Mans Series teammate Antonio Garcia and Jordan Taylor (endurance races). Magnussen and Garcia took a trip to victory lane at Laguna Seca in early May. Meanwhile, in the No. 74 Corvette C6.R, defending ALMS GT champions Oliver Gavin and Tommy Milner team with Richard Westbrook for the prestigious race. The trio already scored victory together this season at the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring to open the season.
“The test day confirmed what we already knew,” said Mark Kent, Director of Racing – Chevrolet. “This year’s GTE Pro class will be the deepest and most competitive in which we have competed. As always, we welcome the monumental challenge that only Le Mans can provide. Experience has taught us that it takes an exceptionally well-coordinated effort from everyone on our team to succeed. We demonstrated that skill and commitment at both Sebring and Laguna Seca and I am confident our guys can deliver again on the biggest stage here in France.”
Corvette Racing is a seven-time winner at Le Mans having won in 2001-02, 2004-06, 2009 and 2011. This year’s race begins at 3 p.m. CET/9 a.m. ET on Saturday, June 22 with live coverage on SPEED and SPEED.com.
Le Mans 24 Hours (all times CET)
· Practice/qualifying: 4-8 p.m., 10 p.m.-midnight, Wednesday
· Qualifying: 7-9 p.m., 10 p.m.-midnight, Thursday
· Warm-up: 9-9:45 a.m., Saturday
· Race: 3 p.m. Saturday-3 p.m., Sunday
Le Mans: Watch It!
Saturday, June 22-Sunday, June 23 (all times EDT)
· SPEED: 8:30 a.m-2 p.m., Saturday; 4-7 p.m., Saturday; 7:30 p.m., Saturday-9:30 a.m., Sunday
· SPEED.com: 2-4 p.m., Saturday; 7-7:30 p.m., Saturday
· Corvette 24-Hour Live Stream: 9 a.m. Saturday-9 a.m. Sunday
JAN MAGNUSSEN, NO. 73 COMPUWARE CORVETTE C6.R
This is your 10th Le Mans appearance with Corvette Racing. Have the keys to success changed over time?
“My whole year is based around doing well at Le Mans because we are always there with a chance to win. We have three golden rules that Doug Fehan pounds into us every chance he gets: Don’t hit anything, don’t break anything and stay on the track. They are three pretty good rules because it seems like every time we’ve run – apart from one or two – that’s been the case. Obviously the competition is very tough so we have to push. Le Mans is very different now than it was 10 years ago in terms of how you treat the car and approach the race. You can take a little more time when you fight with another GT car as pit stops come into play. But if you gotta go, then you gotta go and take chances. I’ll bet good money that the car that wins isn’t necessarily the fastest car but the one that makes the fewest mistakes.”
ANTONIO GARCIA, NO. 73 COMPUWARE CORVETTE C6.R
Where do you think the main competition will emerge for this race?
“The good thing about GT now is that there is not just one big manufacturer to fight against. Aston Martin looks very strong, just as they did last year. Porsche and Viper have new cars, and Ferrari won the race last year. I hope the No. 74 Corvette will be the other strongest car in the field. We hope to fight with them for a 1-2 finish. I believe Corvette Racing is the most prepared team at Le Mans. We are the main competitors for everyone. But we don’t know where everyone will stand during the race. Most of the teams are running ELMS, some in the FIA WEC. But we will find out soon where everyone will stand. But in my mind, Corvette Racing has the top two cars in the class.”
JORDAN TAYLOR, NO. 73 COMPUWARE CORVETTE C6.R
What is the biggest challenge of Le Mans?
“Le Mans is definitely a unique place because half of it is race track and the other half is public roads. It’s very spread out so you don’t have to learn where you’re going. It’s a lot of driving in a straight line but when you do get to those corners, they are massively important because they lead on to long straights. The whole week is very busy and you’re not expecting it for a whole event. Driving is almost the last thing you’re thinking about, but when you get in the car you have to switch your head around immediately and be fully focused. But at the end of the day, that is the most important part of the event.”
OLIVER GAVIN, NO. 74 COMPUWARE CORVETTE C6.R
“Looking back over the last few years, our car has been good enough to win the race every year. I’m confident we are going to go there with just as much potential. The competition level is higher than ever before. It’s an unbelievably strong year. I feel as always that I feel we have the best team at Corvette Racing and I feel I’ve got the best teammates to execute and win the race. So yes, I’m confident.”
TOMMY MILNER, NO. 74 COMPUWARE CORVETTE C6.R
Is there anything you learned from winning in 2011 that you can apply this year?
“In many ways, you put past experiences behind you. You can’t rely on them to pull you through in a new year. But each race I do, I learn something new. In 2011, the important lesson was that you don’t have to have the fastest car or try and make up that difference if the car isn’t perfect. What mattered the most that year was having a clean race and not making any mistakes. If you can do that, you’ll be there at the end. Obviously you’d love to have the fastest car and that in some ways can make life easier. But that’s not the end game. That is part of Le Mans and what makes it special.”
On being an American driving an American car at such an international race?
“Le Mans for me is the biggest race in the world. Representing a brand, a team and the history that Corvette has at Le Mans is incredible. Being an American driver only adds to that. Whether you’re Jan from Denmark or Oliver from the UK – the fans are so into the car and the sound it makes. All the fans appreciate the race, the history and what makes Corvette special. It’s an honor for our guys to be there and compete every year. Their passion for the race and what we do shines through. For me, it’s special be part of that team.”
RICHARD WESTBROOK, NO. 74 COMPUWARE CORVETTE C6.R
“Le Mans is a funny thing. Some people find it incredibly difficult. A lot of people get caught out with a sense of the occasion because Le Mans is Le Mans. But it’s important to treat it like any other track. Things are pretty straightforward until you get to the Porsche Curves. Then things get hairy. You need bags of confidence through there, and if don’t then you’re going to be slow and that’s a lot (of extra time) on the stopwatch. You can never overstate it enough – I don’t come to Le Mans to finish second. I’ve been on the podium but not on the top step. I want to win, and I want to win in a Corvette.”
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