Number 73 on the Le Mans podium, number 74 was fourth
The new Chevrolet Corvette C7.R is a podium finisher in its debut at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Antonio Garcia, Jan Magnussen and Jordan Taylor were runners- up in the GTE Pro class in Corvette Racing’s No. 73 Corvette C7.R thanks to late-race heroics by the trio.
Despite losing valuable laps due to safety car nuances and a faulty valve stem for the Corvette’s air jack system, the No. 73 Corvette and its drivers completed 338 laps and finished a lap shy of the team’s first victory at the French endurance classic since 2011. The runner-up Corvette traveled 2,862.52 miles in the event.
“It was an honor to race the Chevrolet Corvette C7.R at the 2014 24 Hours of Le Mans in the GTE Pro class,” said Jim Campbell, Chevrolet U.S. Vice President, Performance Vehicles and Motorsports. “While Corvette Racing has won in class seven times, we are proud of the persistence, determination and teamwork from the drivers, engineers and crew that delivered a runner-up finish for the new Corvette C7.R. The team's 'never-give-up' approach was evident during each lap, pit stop and driver rotation.
“Every race, including the 24 Hours of Le Mans, provides a great opportunity to learn on the track and then enhance the technologies in the Corvette road car.”
Campbell added: “Thanks to the Corvette and Chevrolet owners who supported the Corvette Racing efforts at Le Mans or followed the racing action this weekend from around the world.”
The first daylight hours Sunday saw the trio fighting back after losing laps to a faulty valve stem for the car’s air jack and twice being separated from its competitors by a safety car in the race’s opening 12 hours. The No. 73 Corvette led for extended periods in the early portion of the race.
The final four hours of the race started with Taylor trailing the third-place Porsche by about 90 seconds before the young American drove a storming triple-stint to close the gap by more than half to 47 seconds. By the time he handed the No. 73 Corvette over to Magnussen and the Dane completed his first flying lap of his final stint, the interval to the new second-place Porsche was 28 seconds with an hour and 40 minutes left.
Magnussen drove a single stint and handed over to Garcia. The Spaniard took out huge chunks of time and took the second position for good when the Porsche pitted with trouble 75 minutes from the end.
The No. 74 Corvette C7.R of Oliver Gavin, Tommy Milner and Richard Westbrook placed fourth in class. The car had been running in podium contention as well before losing eight laps due to a slipped alternator belt and gearbox leak.
Gavin had reported a low voltage reading and a burning smell inside the car near the halfway point. Upon further examination, the crew found the alternator belt covered oil.
“As always, Le Mans was a stern test,” said Mark Kent, Director of Chevrolet Racing. “Achieving a runner-up position for the No. 73 Corvette is remarkable. It is a great reward for the dedication and work ethic of our team at Corvette Racing, Pratt & Miller and our Powertrain Group. We look forward to continuing this momentum when we return to the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship at Watkins Glen in two weeks.”
Corvette Racing’s next race is the Sahlen’s Six Hours at The Glen on Sunday, June 29 from Watkins Glen International. The event will air live at 11 a.m. ET on FOX Sports 1.
ANTONIO GARCIA, NO. 73 CHEVROLET CORVETTE C7.R
“We weren’t able to go for a win at the end. Things don’t always work out the way you planned, and when they don’t you always try to go for the next best option. At some point all the lead GTE Pro cars had issues; we had ours and they had theirs. At one point we were really down the order but we dug our heels in and slowly climbed back up the order, ready to strike when possible. So throughout the night and morning we moved back up the leaderboard - at the same time putting as much pressure on the other as we could. For most of the race we had the fastest car out there and we managed to finish in second a lap behind the leader; exactly the amount of time we lost in repairs at the beginning. I therefore can’t complain, and the lessons learned today will be implemented next year.”
JAN MAGNUSSEN, NO. 73 CHEVROLET CORVETTE C7.R
“It’s hard to be satisfied with second since it started so well for us a day ago. We had the car to win but as so often happens in Le Mans, things get in the way. We had some small issues in the pits and quite often picked up the wrong safety car. Three times I was stuck right behind the safety car which means you lose at least one third of a lap. But everybody performed flawlessly – especially Antonio and Jordan – but also the crew and the engineers did a stellar job.”
JORDAN TAYLOR, NO. 73 CHEVROLET CORVETTE C7.R
“My last stint was my best-ever stint in Le Mans, no doubt about it. The car was awesome and we were much better on the tires than the Porsche we beat to third at the end. We triple-stinted our tires but they only double-stinted. Regardless we had the strongest package out there today. We were just unfortunate in the beginning of the race.”
OLIVER GAVIN, NO. 74 CHEVROLET CORVETTE C7.R
“Our teammates did a fantastic job recovering from a broken air jack and losing some time. That’s pretty much what cost them victory but they got a great second place, and they are fully deserving of that.
“For us, the gearbox issue we had cost us seven laps and that’s how far we finished behind the leader. You could say that was what cost us victory. Our car wasn’t necessarily the fastest but we all worked extremely hard at it. Fourth is a good result but we were here to win. By not winning, you’re disappointed, you’re frustrated and you realize another year has gone by. But you also have to come back and shoot for it again the next year.”
TOMMY MILNER, NO. 74 CHEVROLET CORVETTE C7.R
"First of all congrats to the winners, and to Jan, Antonio and Jordan. They drove a great race. All three of them were quick all weekend. We were just not quite there all weekend. In the race, certainly anything can happen. You look past the issues you had in practice. Obviously the first part of the race went fairly well. But still you could see that our pace wasn't quite what it needed to be with outright speed. In these kind of races not having trouble, not making mistakes, that is the biggest key. We did that for the first 12 hours then we started having little problems here and there. It is always fun to coming here to Le Mans, especially with this team. All the people in France seem to like our cars and the loud, thunderous V8s that we have. It is always an experience coming here. No matter if you finish first or last, it is a fun week, and one that I look forward to every year."
RICHARD WESTBROOK, NO. 74 CHEVROLET CORVETTE C7.R
“This race just shows you how far we have come in a year: with a new car fighting at the front for a good chunk of the race, for more than half the race. We had a couple of issues out there, but that famous Chevrolet and Corvette Racing never-say-die attitude shown through. I am really, really proud to be part of this team and seeing everyone fight at the end of the race and claw our way back. Like I said, we've come a long way and the future looks bright for this car."
DOUG FEHAN, CORVETTE RACING PROGRAM MANAGER
“The race today clearly demonstrated why Le Mans is such difficult, demanding and awe-inspiring race. The final hours of the event required a passionate effort by Antonio Garcia, Jan Magnussen and Jordan Taylor – along with the efforts of the entire Corvette Racing crew, engineers and the GM Powertrain team. The podium experience at Le Mans is truly an Olympic moment. Congratulations to everyone at Corvette Racing and thanks to all our fans for their unequalled support. ”