Le Mans/Zurich – Corvette Racing stood atop the podium at the 24 Hours of Le Mans on Sunday as Oliver Gavin, Tommy Milner and Jordan Taylor wrote the final chapter of a storybook comeback that ended with the team winning the GTE Pro category in their No. 64 Chevrolet Corvette C7.R.
The trio in their No. 64 Chevrolet Corvette C7.R completed 337 laps for 2,864.50 miles in a frantic battle that eventually saw the Corvette win in class by five laps. Sunday's victory goes along with Corvette Racing's wins earlier this year in the Rolex 24 At Daytona and Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring in the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship.
It also marked a significant turn in the fortunes for Corvette Racing in the span of four days. The No. 63 Corvette C7.R of Antonio Garcia, Jan Magnussen and Ryan Briscoe was withdrawn from the race following a hard crash with Magnussen driving. A small piece of debris inside the pedal box caused a throttle malfunction and the Corvette to skid and spin out of control. Magnussen - part of the winning lineup at both Daytona and Sebring with Garcia and Briscoe - was uninjured.
Instead of folding, Corvette Racing marshaled all its effort around the remaining Corvette C7.R. In addition to the eighth victory for the Corvette brand and Corvette Racing in France, Gavin won at Le Mans for the fifth time, Milner the second, and Taylor for the first time.
"I am proud of how the No. 63 and No. 64 drivers, engineers and crew came together to rally around a single Corvette C7.R entry for the race after Thursday's unfortunate incident," said Jim Campbell, Chevrolet U.S. Vice President, Performance Vehicles and Motorsports. "They prepared thoroughly and had each others' back all race long. Perseverance, teamwork and execution were keys to the winning effort.
"It was very emotional to be in the garage with the entire team when the checkered flag dropped," he added. "The Corvette Racing team simply never gave up."
Gavin set the tone early in the race Saturday by move up three spots from seventh on the GTE Pro grid to as high as fourth in his first two stints. Milner followed with a triple stint on his Michelin tires that saw he and the Corvette move from sixth - where he slotted into the field after the leaving pit lane on his first laps - to the class lead.
From that point, the three Corvette Racing drivers figured prominently in a lead battle that saw the Corvette go up against multiple competitors in the race's top production-based class.
The climatic moment came with less than two hours remaining. Running second at the time, Gavin caught and then quickly passed Toni Vilander, who eventually lost five laps in the garage with a mechanical issue. Victory in sight, Gavin drove a smooth final stint with no issues - a fitting end to drama-filled four days.
"This victory adds to what already has been a terrific year for Corvette Racing and the Chevrolet Corvette C7.R," said Mark Kent, Director of Chevrolet Racing. "Today's win at Le Mans goes alongside our successes in the Rolex 24 At Daytona and Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring. It shows the depth of our strengths and determination of everyone at Corvette Racing, GM Powertrain Performance and Racing team, and Pratt & Miller. I'd like to commend all of our partners who contributed to our eighth Le Mans victory."
Said Campbell: "The enthusiasm of the Corvette and Chevrolet owners was overwhelming, and we received messages of support from around the world. The team even did multiple Skype sessions with National Corvette Museum members that were watching the race at the NCM theater. It was also great to see a full Corvette Corral here at Le Mans.
"Racing enables us to transfer learnings from the track to design, engineer and build the best and safest Corvettes for the showroom."
The next event for Corvette Racing's two Corvette C7.Rs is Sahlen's Six Hours At The Glen from Watkins Glen International on Sunday, June 28. It is the seventh round of the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship and will air on FOX Sports 1 and FOX Sports 2 starting at 10 a.m. ET. IMSA Radio also will have live flag-to-flag coverage.
OLIVER GAVIN, NO. 64 CHEVROLET CORVETTE C7.R:
"Winning Le Mans is always a fairy tale story. The way everything turned out over the week, with the No. 63 Corvette having its issues and not being able to start the raceâ€¦ the way the team all came together and led us into the race and enabled us to have this fantastic result today, it's just amazing. It's just been one of those days where you're waiting for something to spring up, like another hurdle to come in your way to stop you from taking a victory. It was a spectacular race for Tommy and Jordan and myself - one of those events where you're having great races with Aston Martin, Ferrari and Porsche but in the end we were the strongest car and we ended up coming away with victory. This is my fifth victory here at Le Mans, and I'm absolutely thrilled to come back here with Corvette Racing. I'm a very happy man."
TOMMY MILNER, NO. 64 CHEVROLET CORVETTE C7.R:
"Where do you start? It's unbelievable to be here with Corvette Racing and to represent the U.S., Chevrolet and Corvette at the biggest race in the world. It's one thing to race but it's another thing to actually achieve that. It is something that has happened twice now, but you don't expect that for one thing. It is just an amazing feeling... a sense of accomplishment. All the hard work that goes into coming here, and I only see part of it. The guys at the shop... when you look at all the people here to make this happen, to achieve victory is incredible. I'm just super happy to be here and be a part of it.
"Then you look at the storyline for us for the week. You have the one car that goes out in qualifying. Typically after many accidents you can fix it, but that one was big enough that there was nothing we could do here. To have the whole team band together and work together throughout the weekend and throughout the race to do exactly this and get a win... I know all the No. 3 guys are disappointed a little bit with what happened after qualifying. But this was definitely a team victory. It's very cool to be a part of it. I can't thank those guys enough to be here in what is a difficult scenario. I've been there. It is difficult to be at a track and not racing. But for them to do whatever they can to help us, help the team, help Chevy and help Corvette achieve victory, this was a team win for sure."
JORDAN TAYLOR, NO. 64 CHEVROLET CORVETTE C7.R:
"I'm obviously a little speechless about the whole thing. The goal in sports car racing and almost any kind of in motorsports in general is to win Le Mans. To win with Chevrolet and Corvette Racing as an American driver doesn't get any better than that. Being with the team for four years now, and the last two years only being able to do Le Mans with the team is tough. I have to thank them and Chevrolet for still believing in me and just to come and do this one-off race with them. So in one way I am happy for the team, but in another way it is a good way to say thank you to them."
Chevrolet takes Corvette to Goodwood Festival of Speed
On the heels of the 83rd running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Chevrolet will return to another iconic gathering, the Goodwood Festival of Speed on June 25-28, with the most impressive display of its iconic performance cars ever. In the bespoke Chevrolet Café the brand will be celebrating the exclusive UK premiere of its fastest production car ever, the Corvette Z06.
Learnings from the Corvette Racing program were applied directly to the Corvette production version. The Chevrolet Corvette Z06 is the most powerful and technologically advanced model in the iconic car's 62-year history. With the available Z07 package, the supercar accelerates from 0-100 in 3.4 seconds with the eight-speed automatic and in 3.8 seconds with the seven-speed manual transmission.
Find out more on Corvette Racing at http://www.corvette-racing.com
Founded in 1911 in Detroit, Chevrolet is now one of the world's largest car brands, doing business in more than 115 countries and selling around 4.8 million cars and trucks a year. Chevrolet provides customers with fuel-efficient vehicles that feature engaging performance, design that makes the heart beat, passive and active safety features and easy-to-use technology, all at a value. More information on Chevrolet Corvette can be found at http://www.chevroleteurope.com/
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