CORVETTE RACING AT LE MANS: Corvette C7.R Leads After Six Hours
Westbrook has No. 74 Corvette out front in GTE Pro; Taylor fifth and gaining
LE MANS, France (June 14, 2014) – Corvette Racing’s two Corvette C7.R race cars have shown well in their debut at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. After six hours, Richard Westbrook led by nearly 30 seconds in the No. 74 Corvette that he shares with Oliver Gavin and Tommy Milner.
Westbrook led a group of six cars on the lead lap that included Jordan Taylor in the No. 73 Corvette C7.R that was less than 90 seconds off the sister car’s pace. Both Corvettes led in the opening quarter of the race.
Jan Magnussen, sharing the No. 73 Corvette with Taylor and Antonio Garcia, put the Corvette C7.R into the lead at Le Mans for the first time 40 minutes into the race. He swapped positions with the first of the Ferraris, moving ahead once again on a dangerous and damp track.
Gavin also led in the No. 74 car during his stint as the Corvette Racing team elected to keep him out on dry tires during the wet safety car period. After the next pit stop cycle, Milner passed two Porsches in the span of a minute to go from third to first at the 3:30 mark.
The next Corvette Racing update from Le Mans will be the halfway report at 3 a.m. CT/9 p.m. ET.
(Opening stint) “I’m happy with my first two stints. We have a really good car; I just had to be careful not to overdrive it. As soon as you do the car lets you know it doesn’t like it, so I took it easy, staying right within the limits. Then the rain came, at first a light drizzle. When I hit the wet part of the track I had the better momentum and passed (Gianmaria) Bruni for the lead. Then I just slowed down as the weather got worse. I had a big moment on the Mulsanne but managed to catch the car just in time. Even behind the safety car I was at the limit; one mile per hour faster and I might have shunted so I asked for rain tires. Even if it dries out quickly we have a car good enough to lose some time now and catch it back up later. We’re only two hours into the race, so why take the risk?”
(How unpredictable was the weather in your stint?) “Those were tricky conditions and difficult at times. I’m pleased we made the call to stay out. Certainly when it first started to rain coming into the first chicane when the Audi crashed, I was really unsure what was going to happen. There were sheets of rain coming down. You could see it sitting on the surface and the car starts to glide. You just have to let it glide and coast. Fortunately I was able to get the car slow enough to get through the chicane and stay out of trouble. Even under the safety car, I was going 30-40 mph and still aquaplaning. In those conditions you’re doing all you can to survive. Then we realized it was short-lived and we thought we could make it work on the slick tire behind the safety car so we stayed out. I wasn’t sure but Chuck (Houghton, engineer) convinced me enough, and we did it. That put us in a position where we could capitalize.”
(How was the car in the dry?) “It’s a little bit edgy and tricky in the full dry with the tire we were on. It looked like everyone was struggling with the same thing; it was a matter of how forgiving you’ve made your car. As the circuit rubbers up, the car should be easier to drive. That’s certainly what we are hoping. By the time we get through the evening and into the morning, we should be looking good.”
(How was the stint?) “It’s a good start to the race for us. I’m still a little cautiously optimistic. We haven’t been super-quick all weekend. Our teammates have had the better of us; not by a lot but they’ve been quick all weekend. It seems like we have more pace in the race than we had from practice. Some of that comes from me being more comfortable in the car. My laps this week have been limited. It was crazy conditions with the rain. I’ve never driven on a race track with that much rain on it in my life.
“I’m most happy about the pace we seem to have in the car. Now it’s about being patient and running laps. I don’t want to get too anxious. Before the race, I thought we wouldn’t have the pace; that we would have to run laps and stay out of trouble. That part still holds true. That’ll be the biggest thing. The guys have already made good strategy calls so let’s see how that holds up.”