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Corvette Racing Recap: Both Z06 GT3.Rs Finish Grueling 24 Hours of Le Mans

TF Sport has an encouraging weekend amid the first trip to 24 Hours of Le Mans for the new Z06 GT3.R

TF Sport at Le Mans/Photo Credit: Richard Prince

The stage was set for an exciting and riveting 24 Hours of Le Mans, as this was TF Sport’s first trip to the French classic and the first Le Mans for the new Z06 GT3.R. And to add to the intrigue, this was just the second 24-hour endurance race for the teething Z06 GT3.R, the first coming at the Rolex 24 At Daytona to open the IMSA season.

In the fourth round of this year’s FIA World Endurance Championship, TF Sport’s Daniel Juncadella’s quote perfectly summed up this grueling race: “We made it to the end, which is an amazing accomplishment…” And you’ll notice in the driver comments below that this was the prevailing sentiment from all the drivers in this year’s 24 hours of Le Mans. In today’s Corvette Racing Recap, we’ll give you a quick recap of the race with notable highlights, share the always-interesting driver quotes, and show you a few of our favorite photos from the busy weekend! Let’s dive in!

Meet the TF Sport Drivers:

  • No. 81: Tom Van Rompuy, Charlie Eastwood, and Rui Andrade
  • No. 82: Hiroshi Koizumi, Sébastien Baud, and Daniel Juncadella

The Hyperpole Results (with 23 cars in the LMGT3 field):

  • TF Sport’s No. 82 started from the fourth row (7th) of the LMGT3 field after Koizumi’s lap of 4:03.681 (125.082 mph),
  • The No. 81 Z06 GT3.R started 18th

Race Summary:

The No. 82 Z06 GT3.R of Koizumi, Baud, and Corvette factory driver Juncadella led the TF Sport effort with an 11th-place finish, an impressive result given they started 18th. The team completed 278 laps in the LMGT3 class. The No. 81 sister car of Van Rompuy, Eastwood, and Andrade placed 15th as Porsche took the class win. Both Corvettes combined to complete 545 laps for 4,616 miles in the race.

  • Weather played a role in multiple parts of the race, which prioritized limiting mistakes and staying on the track. The most notable was a four-hour-plus safety car period due to heavy rain near the 12-hour mark.
  • The No. 81’s only significant issue occurred with Eastwood at the wheel, a power system problem that the team eventually remedied after losing more than 10 laps.
  • The only other noteworthy issue for the No. 81 Z06 GT3.R was a trip to the garage to change the nose of the car during the race’s first safety car period near the eight-hour mark.
  • The setbacks for the No. 82 included a couple of minor off-track excursions and a clutch system issue, all of which occurred in the first two-thirds of the race.

Comments Directly From The Drivers:

  • Charlie Eastwood, No. 81

I’m happy to get to the end of the race. It threw close to everything at us, especially with the weather and conditions. There were a lot of tricky stints. There wasn’t a single stint in full dry conditions, which I can’t believe in a 24-hour race. All in all, I’m super proud of everyone for all of the work that has been happening – both from the GM and Corvette Racing side but also TF Sport. The rate of development that we’ve had with this car in this space of six months has been insane. Hopefully the development continues and we come back here next year even stronger.”

  • Rui Andrade, No. 81

We were just unlucky today, and this is how Le Mans is. It usually brings everything at you. I think we had a solid run – no mistakes by the drivers or teams. We weren’t the fastest car in the class, but we were definitely maximizing what we had. Unfortunately these things happen. The car ran faultlessly for most of the race. After the power hiccup, we continued to fight back. There are a lot of positives to take away from this race.

  • Tom Van Rompuy, No. 81

I’m happy that we brought the car home. Obviously we always hope for more, but that means only one thing: come back stronger next year. But here we did all we could which was in our hands. I’m happy to make it to the finish after all the things that were thrown at us with the conditions and the weather. Now it’s time for a good sleep!

  • Daniel Juncadella, No. 82

We made it to the end, which is an amazing accomplishment. We lost the clutch six or seven hours in, so that was quite insane. I’m very happy with the result considering some of the difficulties today. We got behind by three laps but finished two laps back, so that is encouraging. All in all, it was a great first experience for me at Le Mans. I had a lot of driving in all conditions, and the Corvette handled very good. It actually got better throughout the race, and I’m quite happy with that. Thanks to TF Sport, the guys at GM Corvette Racing and Pratt Miller for all their work this week. It’s such a pleasure to be part of such a big program. I’m looking forward to many more.

  • Sebastien Baud, No. 82

We have finished Le Mans in the “Rookie Car” with Dani and Hiroshi! So I am happy for this and it is good for my experience and to keep developing the Corvette. Of course I’m a competitor and I would have liked a better result in LMGT3. But P11 isn’t too bad. I hope we come back next year to improve because I think the car is good around here. We had some problems with top speed and mechanically with the clutch. It was difficult to manage and keep moving up. But the team kept fighting back, and myself, Dani and Hiroshi pushed a lot. I liked Le Mans, I like his place and I like all the fans here. It’s amazing, and the car is so nice around this track. I hope we keep continuing to improve, and my goal continues to be winning a race this year with Corvette.

  • Hiroshi Koizumi, No. 82

First off all, it’s good to finish the race. At the beginning, it wasn’t planned that I would drive at night. I had no practice during the week. The plan was to have Dani and Seb drive those hours. But getting in the car at that time of night and in the rain was challenging. As a team sport, my job is to keep the car safe and give it to my teammates. And I feel that I did that. Motorsports and racing at this level, it’s not easy to get a good result especially at Le Mans. But I hope I can try this race again with Dani and Seb as my partners.

What’s Next For FIA?

TF Sport’s next race in the FIA World Endurance Championship is the Six Hours of São Paulo (Brazil) on Sunday, July 14.

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(All images credited to Richard Prince for Corvette Racing)