There were many challenges facing all competitors at this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans, the 90th anniversary of the first running of the famous French endurance race: the unpredictable weather, the odds against a top six finish, and the emotional toll of getting through a race which claimed the life of a popular friend and competitor from the LMGTE paddock, Allan Simonsen.
Corvette Racing’s Oliver Gavin overcame those hurdles today to finish 7th in the LMGTE Pro category. The current ALMS GTE drivers’ champion was teamed with his regular driving partner, Tommy Milner, and their endurance team mate, Richard Westbrook. The class was won by the Porsche 911 of Lieb-Lietz-Dumas.
Both Corvette Racing C6.Rs have had a difficult week at Le Mans as Olly explains: “It’s certainly this has been one of the hardest Le Mans races I’ve ever done because of the weather conditions, the emotions involved with what happened to Allan, and then us fighting with every GT car out there to make some headway, whether that was with Am or Pro cars. We were missing a bit on straight line speed and when you’re in that situation it can be a very hard race.
“When it was completely dry and the circuit was rubbered in the car really came good and the deficit we had in straight line speed we were able to make up for in the way we’d tuned the chassis. Our whole aim from the start of the week was to think about how the circuit was going to be at the end but we needed it to be like it was at the end ten hours earlier. Then we could have fought with everyone and we would have had a far stronger event, not just fighting with the Ferraris for positions but the Porsches and Astons too for potential podiums.”
The Corvette Racing team plans to return to the 24 Hours of Le Mans 2014 with the new C7R which, by June, will have already taken part in the Daytona 24 and the 12 Hours of Sebring. Good tests indeed for the world’s biggest sports car race.