Corvette Racing Wins 24 Hours of Le Mans
New Corvette C6.R Scores Historic
Fourth 1-2 Finish in Class at the French Classic
24th June, 2005
Corvette Racing made history last weekend at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, scoring its fourth 1-2 finish in the GT1 class in five years with the new Corvette C6.R. Corvette Racing drivers Oliver Gavin, Olivier Beretta and Jan Magnussen repeated their victory of last year's 24-hour endurance race, and were again joined on the podium by teammates Ron Fellows, Johnny O'Connell and Max Papis.
The team celebrated Corvette's 45th anniversary at Le Mans in style, finishing fifth and sixth overall. Corvette Racing met the challenge of the Aston Martin team in a hard-fought battle that often saw all four cars on the same lap. In scorching heat, the twin yellow Corvettes completed 349 and 347 laps respectively, scoring the 38th win for Corvette Racing in international road racing and the team's 25th 1-2 finish.
After trailing its rivals through the night, the 19th hour proved to be the turning point for Corvette Racing. The No. 64 Compuware Corvette C6.R driven by Gavin, Beretta and Magnussen took the lead when the leading Aston Martin pitted for repairs. The Corvette kept relentless pressure on its pursuers, running three-minute, 55-second laps in withering 97-degree heat. The Corvette victory was sealed when both Aston Martins encountered problems in the 23rd hour.
"I pushed hard, it was like qualifying every lap," said Magnussen, who drove a stunning double stint at the crucial time. "I was trying to stay out of trouble, be consistent and work the traffic. It paid off and we wore out the competition. I enjoyed every minute of it because I could see that we could widen the gap. It's the best we could hope for."
"This is a fantastic result for the C6.Rís first outing at Le Mans," Gavin declared after he forced the pace in the closing hours in his own double stint. "The Corvette Racing team just never gives up. The team told me that we needed a certain lap time to make sure they would never catch us. We achieved the lap time we needed, and they broke. I take my hat off to Aston Martin, but nobody beats Corvette Racing. I'm just delighted to be part of the team and driving with brilliant teammates like Olivier Beretta and Jan Magnussen."
Corvette Racing programme manager Doug Fehan is the mastermind behind the team's successful assault on the world's most famous endurance race. "Each time you come here, you think it can't possibly get any better," he noted. "Last year after our 1-2 finish, I left thinking there was no way to top this, but this year we did. We didn't turn a wheel wrong, we didn't hit anything, we didn't break anything. That comes from the experience and continuity of being here year in, year out. I'm already looking forward to coming back in 2006."
Forty-five years ago, Corvette first came to Le Mans with the Briggs Cunningham team and the support of Corvette legend Zora Arkus-Duntov. Today's result was another chapter in the brandís rich racing history.
"There should be no doubt that Corvette has arrived at world-class status," said Corvette chief engineer Dave Hill. "The success that we've had racing at Le Mans, linked with the capabilities of production models such as the new Z06, makes this the finest time in Corvette's history. The team has shown courage to take on strong adversaries over the years, from Viper and Ferrari to Aston Martin. I've had the honour to be here at Le Mans for six years, and this has to be the best one yet."
24 Hours of Le Mans GT1 Results