CORVETTE’S TRIUMPH OVER ADVERSITY
First the sentence, then the reprieve.
When Jan Magnussen had his Corvette
C7.R’s throttle stick open through the
Porsche Curves during qualifying for the
24 Hours of Le Mans, the damage from
the subsequent crash was sufficient for
Corvette Racing to withdraw the entry.
This left the lone C7.R of Tommy Milner,
Jordan Taylor and veteran ace Oliver
Gavin to carry American pride against its
Aston Martin, Ferrari and Porsche rivals
in the GTE-Pro class. And the fairytale
ending saw ’Vette victorious at Le Mans
In 2014, the Porsche 919 Hybrids didn’t
look quite fast enough to take on Audi and
Toyota at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Ultimately, they didn’t prove reliable, either.
Just 12 months later, the Weissach
marque wasn’t just the LMP1-H pacesetter
at the enduro classic, it also dismissed the
questions from so-called experts over its
reliability. Porsche’s 1- 2-3 on the grid was
converted into 1- 2-5 on race day, and it
was a couple of driving errors, not car
fatigue, that settled the order.
Nick Tandy and Earl Bamber from
Porsche’s GT roster and Force India
Formula 1 driver Nico Hulkenberg were
error-free, but also relentlessly fast in the
No. 19 car, especially at night. So when
Brendon Hartley incurred a stop-go penalty
in 919 No. 17 for a yellow-flag infringement,
and Romain Dumas and Neel Jani each
bounced the pole-sitting No. 18 car off a
tire wall at Mulsanne corner, their chances
of staying with the flying 18 were gone.
Meanwhile, all three Audi R18 e-tron
Oliver Gavin’s first
Le Mans GT class win
came in 2002, his first
LM24 with Corvette
Racing. His fourth
came in ’06, his fifth
(finally!) in 2015.
quattros needed unscheduled pitstops, the
car of three-time Le Mans-winning combo
Andre Lotterer/Marcel Fassler/Benoit Treluyer
being last to falter, first with loose bodywork
and then requiring a late oil top-up.
While Audi weren’t flawless enough, last
year’s Le Mans pacesetters Toyota were
nowhere near fast enough. The TS040
HYBRIDs were six seconds per lap slower
in qualifying, and despite no mechanical
difficulties, the lead example finished
sixth, a full eight laps behind the leader.
for the first time since 2011. The last of
its opposition to hit mechanical strife, the
Ferrari 458 of Giancarlo Fisichella, Toni
Vilander and Gianmaria Bruni, faltered with
gearbox issues while leading the Corvette
by just 10 seconds with two hours to go.
In GTE-Am, SMP Racing’s Ferrari won,
but there were more reasons for American
pride, as Pat Long and Marco Seefried
co-drove Patrick Dempsey’s Porsche 911
to second place, while U.S.-based Scuderia
Corsa finished third with its lineup of Bill
Sweedler, Townsend Bell and Jeff Segal.
Hollywood star Patrick Dempsey has brought
endurance racing to the public consciousness,
but he walks the walk, too, as proven by his
second in GTE-Am at Le Mans. He’s also joined
RACER, and his first column starts on page 42.
a new niche
became the first
active F1 driver to
win Le Mans since
Herbert in 1991.
The Hulk and Earl
Bamber were also
the first Le Mans
virgins to win since
Laurent Aiello in ’ 98,
also in a Porsche.
Porsche back on Le Mans form and beating Audi in a multi-car duel
17-year wait for a 17th win
Porsche’s 919 Hybrids
were super-fast and, in
the No. 19 car’s case, its
drivers were also flawless.