No. 63 Finishes Fourth and the No. 64 Retires Early at Difficult 24 Hours of Le Mans Event
Although the Corvette Racing team went to Le Mans with the hopes of bringing home their ninth GTE-Pro class victory, it was not meant to be. The No. 63 Corvette C7.R, which was driven by Jan Magnussen, Antonio Garcia and Mike Rockenfeller, finished in fifth-place at the end of the race. The team later secured the fourth-place position after the No. 67 Ford GT was bumped down to twelfth place for violating the rule that requires each of a car’s drivers spend at least six hours behind the wheel of their car during the 24 hour event.
Sadly, the No. 64 Corvette had a more difficult time at Le Mans. The car started in fifteenth place but was able to work its way up to twelfth place without much incident, thanks to the skillful driving of Oliver Gavin. However, with the first hour of the race, Gavin reported a “strange feeling” in the front of the car. Later, when Tommy Milner took over driving responsibilities, he also reported difficulty with the car’s handling. The car was brought into the pits for repair, costing the team valuable track time.
“First of all, we had a suspension problem which, while I was in the car, was causing us some issues but it was only once we came to the first driver change that it became apparent how bad it was. So we had to make the changes and lost about three laps.” says Oliver Gavin.
The No. 64 returned to the field, but it was brought back into the pits several hours later requiring a new engine floor. Once more the car lost track time during the repair. Still, the car returned to competition and appeared to be performing well, but engine overheating trouble ultimately caused the car to retire from competition during the early morning hours on Sunday.
“Tommy [Milner] then had a floor problem, the engine floor, so we ended up about five laps behind and that’s where we ended up throughout – until we had the overheating situation. That was something we were not really expecting, really unfortunate.”
The GTE-Pro podium for this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans comprised of the No. 92 and No. 91 Porsche 911 RSRs in first and second place, respectively, and the No. 68 Ford GT taking third place. Together, the Porsche 911 RSR and Ford GT claimed seven of the top eight spaces on the grid after three qualifying rounds, with the No. 51 AF Corse Ferrari 488 claiming a fourth-position start.
The No. 63 Corvette, which started in ninth-position, did manage a clean race throughout the 24 hour event and, given the challenges encountered by their sister-car, proved to be a contender throughout the race, slowly working its way thru a very competitive field and ultimately missing the podium by just one position.
Assuming Corvette Racing returns to Le Mans next year, it will mark the team’s twentieth appearance at the 24 Hours of Le Mans Race. Given that GM plans to continue production of the C7 Corvette for at least the next couple of years, it is a safe assumption that the team will return to competition in 2019 with another C7.R Race car and will once more try to secure their ninth GTE-Pro class victory.
Sources: motorsport.com, GM Authority