LE MANS, France – The two Compuware Corvette C6.Rs from Corvette Racing ran fifth and ninth in GTE Pro after six hours at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Changing track conditions throughout the opening of the race kept teams throughout the class on their toes.
All three of drivers in the car – Westbrook, Oliver Gavin and Tommy Milner – drove double-stints, and the car picked up two spots in class from the start of the race.
Gavin and Milner weathered changing conditions in the opening four hours that saw intermittent showers mixed with dry but cool periods as well.
The No. 73 Compuware Corvette had Jordan Taylor at the wheel for his opening triple-stint at the six-hour mark. A scheduled brake change under one of three safety car periods also left the car a lap down from the class leader but well within striking distance with Taylor chasing down the sixth-place car at the rate of four to five seconds per lap.
Jan Magnussen and Antonio Garcia each ran double-stints in the challenging conditions to open the race.
JAN MAGNUSSEN (NO. 73 COMPUWARE CORVETTE C6.R): “The start obviously wasn’t great because of the accident, so the first stint I spent mostly behind the safety car. When we got going again the car was pretty decent, but after the pitstop I didn’t like the balance of the car so much. Toward the end, in the rain, it felt good but everyone was super-cautious so I managed to make up some time. There is still some work to on the car as we need to make it a bit more comfortable on the second stint on the same tires.”
ANTONIO GARCIA (NO. 73 COMPUWARE CORVETTE C6.R): “The stints worked out OK, but of course I have mixed feelings. Richard (Westbrook) was the first one I spoke when I got out of the car and he told me straight away about Allan (Simonsen). Everything about the stint I just forgot, those two hours behind the wheel. I feel sad and sorry for the family and friends of Allan.
Other than that we’re just doing our race, trying to make the best of it. In the tricky conditions we seem to be able to reduce the deficit to the others quite a bit. We didn’t make any mistakes, which allowed us to gain a few places. At the end I was satisfied with the stint. Maybe the track can come more and more to us during the night.”
OLIVER GAVIN (NO. 74 COMPUWARE CORVETTE C6.R):“Those were very difficult conditions. It is one of those situations that you kind of dread. Here you are driving a fast car with very low downforce on slick tires with the rain coming, and it’s one of the most challenge parts of the Le Mans track. Trying to find a tire that suits the entire track when it starts to rain in one spot is impossible.
You have to roll your sleeves up and get on with it. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t. Right at the very start, (the weather) was doing it. I had the dreadful situation of witnessing Allan Simonsen’s crash first-hand. He was right in front of me. I didn’t see the car go into the guardrail but I just knew from the way he went off that it was going to be a huge accident.
I sort of saw in the mirror what happened, and it was sickening. But then it was a case of keeping your head back in the game and working through the situation with the restart and changing conditions. The last five to six laps were very difficult and tricky.
I always seemed to catch people just as they were coming out of the pits or behind other people who were having problems. It’s all part of the race. We have to keep on going through this and work our way through these situations.”
TOMMY MILNER (NO. 74 COMPUWARE CORVETTE C6.R): “The track changed every single lap for my first 14 laps. It was very hard to push. You want to go and push hard but you have to take into consideration the conditions. I had a situation where I went into Turn 1 at 75 percent and should have gone 45 percent.
The 2011 race was tough with changing conditions at the end. It was similar to what we have today but there was nowhere as much rain and as much change. It was something like only three or four laps in my stint in 2011 were like that. But this year all 14 felt like they were in dramatically different conditions.”