Garcia leads qualifying efforts for the Le Mans debut for C7.Rs
Corvette Racing will start second and fourth Saturday in the GTE Pro class for the 24 Hours of Le Mans following strong qualifying runs for its two Chevrolet Corvette C7.Rs. Antonio Garcia set a best time of 3:54.777 (129.867 mph) in the No. 73 Corvette C7.R and Oliver Gavin qualified the No. 74 Corvette C7.R fourth in class at 3:55.190 (129.618 mph) – encouraging starts for each of the two Corvette Racing entries.
"The Corvette Racing team had two solid evening sessions on track to qualify P2 and P4 in the GTE Pro class,” said Jim Campbell, Chevrolet U.S. Vice President, Performance Vehicles and Motorsports. “It also was great to get the Corvette Racing drivers additional laps in the new Chevrolet Corvette C7.R at night. The whole team is fully focused on the race."
Garcia – driving with Jan Magnussen and Jordan Taylor – posted his quickest in the middle portion of the night's final session. He improved on his best effort in the first session – one that was faster than any other car in the opening two hours – by 0.261 seconds around the 8.3-mile circuit.
“I had a very good qualifying lap today,” Garcia said. “It’s always difficult to know exactly how much you can push, especially on Thursday when you more or less know that these laps in the last session are the last laps before race day. You don’t want to take too many risks and we have seen on quite a few occasions this year and in the past that if it goes wrong here, it goes wrong big time.”
Gavin, who is teaming with Tommy Milner and Richard Westbrook, also set his best lap in Thursday’s final session.
The times were improvements from Wednesday’s red-flag filled session in which Garcia set the best time in the No. 73 Corvette at 3:56.443 (128.935 mph). Milner’s best effort in the No. 74 Corvette C7.R was a 3:59.446 (127.319 mph).
Judging by qualifying times, the race should be extremely competitive. The gap from Garcia to the seventh-place Porsche was less than a second.
Corvette Racing will go for its eighth class win at the 24 Hours of Le Mans since 2001 at 3 p.m. CET/9 a.m. ET on Saturday, June 14 with live coverage throughout on FOX Sports 1, FOX Sports 2, the FOX Sports Go mobile app and FOXsports.com – which will stream live Corvette Racing in-car camera feeds and a pit camera for the full race in the U.S.
ANTONIO GARCIA, NO. 73 CHEVROLET CORVETTE C7.R
“I’m quite happy with the balance and how the car feels for the race, so it looks promising. We mustn’t forget that this is still the first Le Mans for the Corvette C7.R, so we still have some unknowns regarding certain aspects. But we did a good job in preparing the car over the past two days and the Test Day and I can say we have a real good car for the 24 Hours. We’ll still have to see where exactly our competitors are, because cars can be fast over a single lap while others can be a bit slower over a single lap but be very consistent once they’re on race pace.”
OLIVER GAVIN, NO. 74 CHEVROLET CORVETTE C7.R
“It was certainly better this evening than yesterday. We managed to get some decent running in the car and develop it a little more. We feel like we have a better racecar now. I managed to stick in a time in there that put us fourth. It would have been great if Tommy could have had a really good run at it right there at the end with maybe some softer tires. We’ve made some steps and it seems like we are right there in the hunt with everyone else. It also seems that most everyone is complaining of low grip and edginess. The circuit, the surface and tires don’t seem to be bonding and working together so well at the moment. But that could come; the circuit could rubber up more and we could get a more consistent and quicker race car. We’re in a good spot. This should be a dogfight throughout.”
DOUG FEHAN, CORVETTE RACING PROGRAM MANAGER
“This is a solid start and represents a complete team effort. Our drivers, engineers and crew worked in sync to sort out a few handling issues with our Chevrolet Corvette C7.Rs following multiple red-flag periods tonight and Wednesday. The time we did have on track was extremely beneficial as we were finally able to get back to a competitive aero package tonight. We don't have much in the way of long-run performance testing, so that could still bite us. But the ultimate performance should at least let us compete. Now we just need to execute and have some luck for a clean race. We really appreciate our drivers for not putting a foot wrong in practice and helping us work through to good setups. From the time sheet, this looks like it could be a very exciting race!”