New Corvette C6.R Scores Historic Fourth 1-2 Finish in French Classic
LE MANS, France, June 19, 2005 - Corvette Racing made history today 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 reprised their victory in 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 turned back 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 point when the leading Aston Martin pitted for repairs. The Corvette kept relentless pressure on its pursuers, running 3-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 open up the gap. It's the best we could hope for."
"This is a fantastic result for the first time we've run the C6.R 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, ever 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 program 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 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 and year out. I'm looking forward to coming back next year."
Forty-five years ago, Corvette first came to Le Mans with the Briggs Cunningham team with the support of Corvette legend Zora Arkus-Duntov. Today's result was another chapter in Corvette's rich racing history.
"There should be no doubt that Corvette has arrived at world-class status," said Corvette chief engineer Dave Hill. "With the success that we've had racing at Le Mans, linked with the capabilities of production models like the new Z06, makes us feel that this is the finest time in Corvette's history. This team has shown courage to take on strong adversaries over the years, from Viper and Ferrari to Aston Martin. I've had the honor to be here at Le Mans for six years, and this is the best one yet."
"This was a great moment for Chevrolet in an epic race," noted Brent Dewar, GM North America vice president of marketing and advertising. "Chevrolet's racing DNA comes directly from its founder, Louis Chevrolet. With Corvette as the lead product for the global Chevrolet brand, winning Le Mans is huge for us. Corvette is competitive against the best sports car in the world. It's not just about speed; it's about technology and durability and endurance. I think Louis Chevrolet and Zora Arkus-Duntov would be proud today."