Circuit de la Sarthe
Corvette Reigns Again At Le Mans!
Hard-fought GTE Pro victory for Beretta/Milner/Garcia
Corvette Racing returned to the top step at Le Mans on Sunday following a fantastic battle in GTE Pro for all 24 hours of the world’s greatest race. Olivier Beretta won for the sixth time at the Le Mans 24 Hours, Antonio Garcia won for the third time, and Tommy Milner took his first career victory at Le Mans in their Corvette C6.R.
The trio were a handful of drivers from the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón to take honors in the 79th running of Le Mans.
The Corvette seized the lead from AF Corse’s Ferrari F458 Italia inside the last three hours. Milner chased down and passed Toni Vilander thanks to a constant attack and Corvette’s usual strategy and pitwork. Garcia drove the final stint to the checkered flag.
“For me being an American and driving for an American car company and an American icon, like Corvette is unbelievable,” Milner said. “Certainly, they have a lot more attention just being Corvette Racing with all their success at Le Mans. So for me to be apart of that – especially with their 100 anniversary of Chevrolet and now the 10th year anniversary for the first win at Le Mans – is very special to me. This is my first year of Corvette Racing and this was the one race that stood out that I wanted to win, and here I am.
BMW Motorsport’s BMW M3 GT of Joey Hand, Dirk Müller and Andy Priaulx finished third in class after the trio won the GTE Pro race at Sebring to start the season.
The sister factory Corvette of Oliver Gavin, Jan Magnussen and Richard Westbrook had led for the majority of the first 16 hours before Magnussen collided with a Porsche. The damage was too extensive for the second C6.R to continue.
"If I were to write a script to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Chevrolet and the 10th anniversary of Corvette Racing's first win at Le Mans, this would undoubtedly be it," said Corvette Racing program manager Doug Fehan. "Louis Chevrolet was himself a racer, and his motto, 'Never give up!' is a philosophy we embraced from our first visit here. I think the result today embodied the spirit of Chevrolet's co-founder and of that iconic phrase."
In GTE Am, Robertson Racing capped its first Le Mans with a third-place showing in GTE Am. The husband-wife duo of Andrea and David Robertson celebrated their wedding anniversary with a podium along with teammate David Murry in their Doran-Ford GT.
“We are as happy as can be. From day one I honestly thought we had a chance in this class, which is why we entered it,” David Robertson said. “We are not the fastest, and I know we have a lot of progress to make, but if the team could work together and have a mistake-free run I always believed this was feasible. We just kept going for 24 hours. We are so glad to be here, but wouldn’t be were it not for the fantastic group of people in the garage and back in Braselton. This is for them. It’s also great to be the first husband and wife on the podium and it makes it even more special that it’s our anniversary. The only problem is I’ve no idea how to top this next year!”
There were only two extended stops for the Ford GT. The crew switched the gearbox from paddleshift to manual sequential in the fourth hour, and the team also performed a regularly scheduled brake change later in the race.
“I am so happy for Dave, Andrea and the team,” Murry said. “We have worked so hard for the past four years and this is the pinnacle of what they wanted to achieve, so to come and get a podium on debut is just fantastic. You always dream about a possible result but don’t ever think it could happen so we have just taken one step at a time. This was a 100 percent team effort and that is what contributes to podiums at Le Mans.”
Level 5 Motorsports placed third in LMP2 with its Lola-Honda coupe driven by Scott Tucker, Christophe Bouchut and Joao Barbosa. The car had started 11th in class on the grid but had no troubles throughout the race.
Audi Sport won again at Le Mans with its new Audi R18 TDI. Andre Lotterer, Marcel Fassler and pole-sitter Benoit Treluyer won by a scant 13 seconds over Peugeot’s Simon Pagenaud, Sebastien Bourdais and Pedro Lamy. It was an epic race that saw the lone Audi on its own after the other two R18s crashed out during the race.
The American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón returns to action at Lime Rock Park for the American Le Mans Northeast Grand Prix. The race is scheduled for 2:05 p.m. ET on Saturday, July 9 with live video coverage available on ESPN3.com in the US, and americanlemans.com for international users and worldwide listeners to American Le Mans Radio. ESPN2 will air the race starting at 10 p.m. ET on Sunday, July 10.