Longtime IMSA competitors score podium results In GTE Am Class
Daytona Beach, Fla. – TUDOR United SportsCar Championship full-time competitors Corvette Racing earned their eighth 24 Hours of Le Mans class victory in 16 tries – but their first since 2011 – with a GTE Pro class win by No. 64 Chevrolet Corvette C7.R co-drivers Olivier Gavin, Tommy Milner and Jordan Taylor in this weekend’s twice-around the clock endurance classic in France.
IMSA competitors in the Le Mans podium
Other longtime IMSA / TUDOR Championship competitors joining in the Le Mans podium celebrations were Giancarlo Fisichella, Patrick Dempsey, Patrick Long, Marco Seefried and the Scuderia Corsa Ferrari trio of Bill Sweedler, Townsend Bell and Jeff Segal.
“We deliver the same message every year to our regular competitors as they head into the 24 Hours of Le Mans,” said IMSA President Scott Atherton. “That message is, ‘Make us proud.’ We could not be more proud of their performances this year.
“On behalf of IMSA, I extend heartfelt congratulations to Chevrolet, Corvette Racing, Oliver Gavin, Tommy Milner, Jordan Taylor and everybody associated with this world class program on their tremendous and well-deserved victory. I also extend our congratulations to the Dempsey and Scuderia Corsa teams and drivers on their fantastic podium results, as well as to all of our other IMSA regulars who competed at Le Mans this year – job well done. We can’t wait to welcome all of them back to the TUDOR Championship.”
Another “crown jewel” for Corvette Racing
The victory for Corvette Racing is yet another “crown jewel” for the team in an outstanding start to the 2015 season. The No. 3 Corvette Racing team of Jan Magnussen, Antonio Garcia and Ryan Briscoe captured GT Le Mans class victories in January’s TUDOR Championship Rolex 24 At Daytona and the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh From Florida in March to lead the Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup standings.
Unfortunately for the team, the renumbered No. 63 Corvette crashed during qualifying on Thursday with Magnussen at the wheel, forcing that car to withdraw from the Le Mans event. That left the No. 64 team to represent Corvette Racing in the race.
The car was locked in a battle for the GTE Pro lead for much of the 24 hours, mostly with the No. 95 Aston Martin and the No. 51 Ferrari. Ultimately, a mechanical problem on the No. 51 with roughly two hours remaining enabled the No. 64 Corvette to effectively “cruise” to a five-lap victory over the No. 71 Ferrari.
“Unbelievable,” said Milner
“We certainly had our backs against the wall with our team car going out in qualifying, but as Corvette Racing, we’re one team. We pulled together and here we are, P1. Amazing!
“I can’t say enough about Oliver and Jordan. Each of them had a stint in the car where watching it, I just went, ‘Wow! Incredible!’ Thanks to those guys, thanks to all the crew guys. Our (No.) 4 guys back in the U.S., we’ve had a rough go of it for a bit, but this win makes up for that, for sure.”
The No. 51 Ferrari team included Fisichella, who races full time in the TUDOR Championship in the No. 62 Risi Competizione Ferrari 458 in the GTLM class. After a lengthy stint in the garage, the car returned to action and came home in the final spot on the GTE Pro podium. Fisichella and the team won the class at Le Mans last year.
The GTE Am class provided the most late-race drama. The No. 98 Aston Martin, which competed in both the Rolex 24 and Twelve Hours of Sebring, seemed poised to win the class until Paul Dalla Lana, a longtime IMSA competitor with a 2011 Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge Grand Sport class championship and multiple GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series race victories, crashed in the final hour.
That incident promoted the No. 77 Dempsey-Proton Racing Porsche 911 RSR shared by Dempsey, Long and Seefried to second in class, and moved the No. 62 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 458 Italia of Sweedler, Bell and Segal onto the final spot on the podium.
Next up for these competitors and the complete TUDOR Championship will be the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen on Sunday, June 28, which will be televised live in its entirety on FOX Sports 1 and FOX Sports 2. The race also will be the third round of the Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup.