GM challenges 96 Hours of Le Mans

2 Corvette C5.Rs + 2Cadillac LMPs X 24 = 96 Hours GM entries in second year of multiple year program DETROIT, June 6, 2001 - General Motors, the world's largest vehicle manufacturer, is launching a two-team, four- car assault on the ...

2 Corvette C5.Rs + 2Cadillac LMPs X 24 = 96 Hours

GM entries in second year of multiple year program

DETROIT, June 6, 2001 - General Motors, the world's largest vehicle manufacturer, is launching a two-team, four- car assault on the world's toughest automobile endurance race, the 24 Hours of Le Mans, June 16-17. In just the second year of a multiple year program, Cadillac and Corvette will challenge veteran factory teams with long histories at Le Mans.

LMP and GTS classes

The Cadillacs will compete in the LMP (Le Mans prototype) class for purpose-built race cars. The Corvettes will compete in the production-car based GTS class.

Interim cars for 2001

Leading the GM charge will be two Cadillac Northstar LMPs significantly revised from the 2000 edition. Increased horsepower, lower center of gravity and lighter weight have given Cadillac test drivers on both sides of the Atlantic a more driveable platform and a more comfortable seat through the thousands of test miles.

Cadillac adds Michelin

The addition of Michelin Pilot SX race tires to the Cadillac package has also produced positive improvements in handling and control. In recent years, Michelin has proved to be the tire to have at Le Mans, appearing regularly in the winner`s circle.

Strong sponsor support

The No.5 Cadillac Northstar LMP will be driven by Frenchmen Eric Bernard and Emannuel Collard and Belgian Marc Goossens. The No. 6 Cadillac Northstar LMP will driven by American Wayne Taylor, Italy's Max Angelelli and Christophe Tinseau of France.

Along with the familiar Cadillac, the argentinium and black cars will display sponsorship support from Toshiba American Business Solutions, ACDelco, Northstar Systems, Michelin, GMAC and Mobil 1.

Cadillac benefits from an aggressive testing program

"We've done a very aggressive testing program and have been pleased with the results," said Jeff Kettman, program manager. "Our testing began in March and included private tests in both North America and Europe and, of course, the one-day open test on the French track. Le Mans has a history of rain and we were pleased that we managed to get in several days of wet weather testing along the way."

Corvette have early season momentum

Corvette Racing has entered the same pair of Millennium Yellow C5-R coupes that scored an overall win and a one-two GTS class finish at the 2001 Rolex Daytona 24 in February.

The only visible difference from the 2000 Corvettes is the all-over Millennium Yellow paint job. This scheme replaces the two-tone white and yellow of 2000 to further reinforce the production-based concept that is the heart of the Corvette program.

Goodyear develops new tire

The C5-Rs will again be on Goodyear Racing Eagles. In mid-season last year Goodyear developed a new tire for the Corvettes and the cars were widened approximately 3" to take full advantage of these new Goodyear Eagles.

Results of the changes were immediate as Ron Fellows and Andy Pilgrim picked up the first win for the Corvette brand in the American Le Mans Series at Texas Motor Speedway.

Since Texas, Corvette Racing has tasted the champagne again with a victory at Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta. Thus far in the 2001 the team has been impressive, garnering the overall win at Daytona, another Texas win and a 2nd and 3rd at Sebring's 12 Hours.

With the exception of the departure of driver Chris Kneifel and the arrival of Scott Pruett, the entire team of engineers, mechanics, technicians and team management has returned intact for the 2001 season.

Teamwork provides on-track gains

"The guys at Corvette Racing and GM are a real team, they all work together as a unit," said driver Franck Freon. "They give us the best equipment for each race. We have gained a lot on the track because of the excellent pits stops they give us every time."

Daytona winning car

Canadian Ron Fellows and Americans Johnny O'Connell and Scott Pruett will drive the No. 63 GM Goodwrench Service Plus Corvette C5-R. Although Pruett is a rookie at Le Mans, he has vast experience in production-based cars and in endurance racing. This is the Daytona - winning car.

Freon, who was on the overall winning team with Fellows, O'Connell and Kneifel at Daytona, will team with Americans Andy Pilgrim and Kelly Collins in the No. 64 GM Goodwrench Service Plus sister car. This is the car that finished second in class at both the Daytona and Sebring enduros.

Team to race at home following Le Mans

Following Le Mans, both the Cadillac and the Corvette teams will return to the States and continue to compete in the selected races of the American Le Mans Series.

Production-base tradition at Chevrolet

It is a tradition at Chevrolet to race production-based vehicles. This strategy has garnered success in SCCA Trans-Am, IMSA GTO as well as in various NASCAR divisions, including pickup trucks, NHRA drag racing events and major races held by other sanctioning authorities.

GM is one company

General Motors is active in motorsports globally through its Corvette, Cadillac, Pontiac, GMC, Saab, Holden, Oldsmobile, Opel and Vauxhall brands. The company is the world's largest vehicle manufacturer and a leader in technology and design.

-GM Racing-

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About this article
Series Le Mans
Drivers Chris Kneifel , Ron Fellows , Johnny O'Connell , Scott Pruett , Franck Freon , Andy Pilgrim , Marc Goossens , Wayne Taylor , Kelly Collins , Max Angelelli
Teams Corvette Racing