Corvette Racing leads GT1 in Le Mans Test
After nearly a year of planning and preparation, Corvette Racing set the pace today in testing at the Circuit des 24 Heures du Mans, the home of the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The No. 63 Compuware Corvette C6.R driven by Jan Magnussen, Johnny O'Connell and Ron Fellows ran the fastest lap in the GT1 class at 3:49.207. The No. 64 Corvette of Oliver Gavin, Olivier Beretta and Max Papis was third quickest among the 15 GT1 entries with a lap at 3:51.628.Magnussen posted the fastest lap for Corvette Racing with 22 minutes remaining in the session, shading the second-ranked No. 007 Aston Martin of Enge/Herbert/Kox by 1.641 seconds. The scheduled eight-hour session ended with nine minutes remaining due to a red flag.
"Today has been the best 'pre-qualifying' I have ever had with Corvette Racing," said Magnussen. "We managed to set up the car just the way we like it and made very good progress throughout the day. We now have a car with which we can attack hard without risking falling off, which is exactly what we'll need for the race because I think this year will be a tough one."
The No. 63 Corvette C6.R ran a total of 81 laps and its sister car completed 82 laps, the most in the GT1 class. The long day was virtually trouble-free for the team as the drivers evaluated tires, suspension setups, and aerodynamic settings. Today's session was the only opportunity for teams to test on the 8.5-mile course before the start of official practice and qualifying for the world's most prestigious sports car race on June 13.
"Some people wondered why we were racing in the American Le Mans Series even though we had no competition, and I think today's result provides a clear answer," said Doug Fehan. "We've done a tremendous amount of work over the winter and early this season, and the testing that we've done with Michelin has been outstanding. The drivers, engineers and mechanics did another exceptional job, and that's one of the reasons why Corvette Racing is successful."
The daylong test session was divided into two four-hour segments. The No. 64 Corvette C6.R topped the morning session with a lap at 3:52.520, while the No. 63 Compuware Corvette C6.R was fourth at 3:53.824.
There are five Corvettes among the 15 entries in the GT1 class, the premier division for production-based race cars. Joining the two factory entries are a pair of Corvettes from Luc Alphand Adventures (last year's Le Mans-winning C6.R and the C5-R that finished third in class in 2006) and a C6.R fielded by PSI Experience.
Minor changes have been made in the course at the Tertre Rouge corner leading onto the long Mulsanne straight. Three-degree banking in Tertre Rouge and a slightly shorter lap length of 13.629 kilometers (reduced from 13.650 kilometers in 2006) produced quicker lap times for the Corvettes than last year's test session when the fastest Corvette C6.R ran 3:53.029.
Today's test was a prelude to two days of qualifying on June 13-14 and the 24-hour race on June 16-17. The 24 Hours of Le Mans starts at 3 p.m. local time (9 a.m. EDT) on Saturday, June 16 and finishes at 3 p.m. (9 a.m. EDT) on Sunday, June 17. SPEED will televise 17.5 hours of coverage in North America starting at 8:30 a.m. EDT on June 16. Corvette PR