Corvette Racing Finds Silver Lining in Rainy Le Mans Test Day
Corvette C6.Rs Third and Fourth In Trouble-Free Le Mans Test
LE MANS, France - Corvette Racing found the silver lining in the dark clouds that soaked the Circuit de la
Sarthe in today's test for the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Intermittent downpours, sporadic showers, and frequent red-flag
periods punctuated the day as the Corvette Racing team tested a range of Michelin tires and evaluated chassis and
gearbox setups. With the changeable weather in the Loire Valley, the knowledge gained today could prove valuable in the
upcoming 24-hour endurance race.
The long day on the immense 8.481-mile circuit was virtually trouble-free for the Corvette Racing team. Max Papis
set the fastest time between the two factory Corvettes at 3:55.520, turning his quick lap in the No. 64 Compuware
Corvette C6.R in dry conditions at the start of the four-hour afternoon session. Johnny O'Connell posted the quickest
time in the No. 63 Compuware Corvette C6.R at 3:55.877 during the same period. The Corvettes ended up third and fourth
among the 10 entries in the GT1 class behind the No. 009 Aston Martin DBR9 (3:53.531) and the No. 50 Saleen S7R
"I think we maximized the opportunities that we had today," said Corvette Racing program manager Doug
Fehan. "It certainly wasn't the test plan we had laid out, but the conditions were the same for everybody. When
it's all said and done, it may actually be to our advantage when a day like this happens because we're well prepared
when we arrive, and more practice time tends to narrow the gap."
"The drivers are very satisfied with the development work we've done," Fehan continued. "When we
briefly had a dry track this morning, the cars were very stable. I think this is probably the best start we've had at
Le Mans from the standpoint of having cars that are really good out of the box, and everyone is very encouraged by
All six drivers rotated through the cars and evaluated tires, suspensions, and gearboxes. The No. 64 Corvette
turned 39 laps, while the No. 63 completed 42 circuits. A sudden shower and a final red flag at 5:30 p.m. effectively
ended the session 30 minutes before its scheduled conclusion.
"It was definitely an eye-opening experience in the beginning of my stint with the track half dry and half
wet," said Papis. "It was fortunate that we could run today because we learned quite a lot. This test was
really more a session for the drivers than anything else, an opportunity for us to get acquainted with different track
conditions and different Michelin tires for wet weather. I feel confident about the race, and up to now it's been a
The crew of the No. 63 car made a scheduled gearbox change during the one-hour lunch break, and O'Connell promptly
posted his quickest lap time.
"We worked with ride heights and gear ratios a little, so hopefully the engineers can look at that data and
decide where they want to start both cars," said O'Connell. "We were testing different setups on the two
cars, and gathering as much information as we could. We had maybe eight laps on a dry track, so it's very difficult for
a driver to run consistent times. It's a situation like this that shows the benefit of having a team that's been here
for so many years and a driver lineup that doesn't need to learn the course. In conditions like we had today, about the
only thing you can prove to the world is how stupid you can be if you fall off the track! We run a tight ship at
Corvette Racing, and we keep our eyes on the big prize - finishing first on the 15th of June."
Today’s session was the only opportunity for teams to test on the Le Mans course, which includes stretches of public
highways. The start of official practice and qualifying for the world's most prestigious sports car race begins on
There are four Corvettes among the 10 entries in the GT1 class, the premier division for production-based race cars.
Joining the two factory entries is a pair of Corvette C6.Rs entered by Luc Alphand Aventures. The Corvettes will face a
quartet of Aston Martin DBR9s, a Lamborghini Murcielago, and a Saleen S7R for the GT1 trophy.
Today's test was a prelude to two days of qualifying on June 11-12 and the 24-hour race on June 14-15. The 24 Hours
of Le Mans will start at 3 p.m. local time (9 a.m. EDT) on Saturday, June 14 and finish at 3 p.m. (9 a.m. EDT) on
Sunday, June 15. SPEED will televise the start of the race on June 14 from 8:30 a.m. EDT to 12 p.m. EDT, and the finish
from 9 p.m. EDT to 6 a.m. EDT on June 15.
24 Hours of Le Mans LM GT1 Test Times:
1. (009) Brabham/Garcia/Turner, Aston Martin DBR9, 3:53.531
2. (50) Bouchot/Bornhauser/Smet, Saleen S7R, 3:55.383
3. (64) Gavin/Beretta/Papis, Corvette C6.R, 3:55.520
4. (63) Fellows/O'Connell/Magnussen, Corvette C6.R, 3:55.877
5. (007) Frentzen/Wendlinger/Piccini, Aston Martin DBR9, 3:58.817
6. (72) Alphand/Policand/Moreau, Corvette C6.R, 4:00.633
7. (59) Menten/Fittipaldi/Borcheller, Aston Martin DBR9, 4:01.021
8. (53) Negrao/Hardman/Leventis, Aston Martin DBR9, 4:01.065
9. (55) Kox, Rusinov/Hezemans, Lamborghini Murcielago, 4:03.404
10. (73) Gouselard/Blanchemain/Pasquali, Corvette C6.R, 4:11.258
CORVETTE RACING QUOTES:
Ron Fellows, No. 63 Corvette C6.R: "The track conditions were changing rapidly today, but we got some
good data on the rain tires. Michelin has brought several combinations and it was quite useful. At the end of the
morning session the wind picked up and the track was drying quickly and I made the wrong call for the tires - it was
time for slicks. In the race condition we certainly would have gone that direction, but we were being a little
Oliver Gavin, No. 64 Corvette C6.R: "We did run through some wet, intermediate and slick tires that
Michelin supplied to us, so it's good to get that experience. I'm delighted to be back at Le Mans, exorcising some of
the demons that we had last year when we had that driveshaft failure. It's nice to be back out there, doing laps and
getting back into it. It's a wonderful circuit, and Max, Olivier and I love driving here. We're focused and really want
to get on with things."
Jan Magnussen, No. 63 Corvette C6.R: "In the few laps that I got in when there was a dry line, the
feeling in the car was very good. Our lap time would have dropped immensely when the track came to us, and I don't
think we would have had much difficulty running quicker times. Straight out of the box, the car is the best it's ever
Release Date: June 1, 2008