Maybe the headline should be prefaced with “Yet another…”
but this one was possibly Corvette Racing’s greatest yet.
Words Mark Hughes
Main image Drew Gibson/LAT
Corvette Racing is accustomed to winning the Le Mans 24 Hours. So much so that the man at the helm of the program since its very beginning admits he sometimes has di;culty remembering details from a tally of class victories at La Sarthe that now totals even. Yet Doug Fehan believes the event of 2011 will be etched on his mind forever and stands up there with the team’s first triumph 10 years ago. “Like so many other things in life, the first is the one you always remember,” he says. “I don’t want to diminish the importance of the rest of them, but they can blur together. But his one is right up there with 2001.” There are any number of reasons why victory in the GTE class for the Chevrolet Corvette C6.R driven by Olivier Beretta, Tommy Milner and Antonio Garcia stands comparison with that maiden triumph in the early years of the ’Vette program. As Fehan puts it, the win was “pertinent on so many di;erent levels.” This is Chevrolet’s centennial year, and Fehan reckons he couldn’t have written a better script to celebrate both 100 years of the marque and the 10th anniversary of Corvette Racing’s first victory. The victory also came in the presence of Mark Reuss, president of GM North America, who was ushered onto the podium by Fehan. “I wanted Mark to experience what Le Mans really means in terms of significance for a global brand,” explains Fehan. “Victory this year made a statement for the corporation. The company has come through a di;cult period and is now a success again. The race team has mirrored that.” It has been a tough couple of years for the Pratt & Miller-run Corvette Racing squad since moving from the ailing GT1 class into what was then known as GT2. There
was an American Le Mans Series victory
third time out with the all-new GT2-spec
Corvette at Mosport in 2009, but in the
first full season for the car, the team had
to wait all year for a victory in the ALMS
finale at Road Atlanta. And at the heart
of the season was the disappointment of
missing out on victory at Le Mans when
the Corvette was clearly the fastest car.
The failures of 2010 led to a root-and-branch overhaul of the program (see
RACER, March 2011), another reason
Fehan cites this as a classic Le Mans win.
“It reinforced to the team that hard
work and dedication do pay o;,” he says.
Fehan points out that a Le Mans
victory at only the second time of asking
for the GTE Corvette (a true production-based car that owes little to the
homologation special GT1 racer that
preceded it) should be regarded as a