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|2017 Le Mans 24hr: Race Results|
|June 21 2017 11:12:00 AM EST|
|There is a reason why the Le Mans 24hr is the holy grail of motorsports. Not only is it an accomplishment to be invited to participate, but to even finish the race is a major feat, let alone set foot on the podium, let alone win. From drivers, to crew, to spectators, to fans watching on TV, this event can make grown men cry tears of joy or sorrow. |
Le Mans can be cruel. You can be on top of the world, and in a split second your day can be done. Time and time again in endurance racing, we say it is never over until it is over. Corvette Racing have more experience with this than any team in the world. They have been on the positive side other's misfortunes many times. They have also been the ones with misfortunes. That is just the nature of the sport.
This 2017 GTE-Pro class field was over flowing with talent. 5 manufactures and 13 cars all with a legitimate shot at victory. For the first time, in a long time, Balance of Performance (BoP) was not a factor. P1-P13 lap times were within 1.5 seconds in qualifying. The closest spread we have ever seen. The bar was set higher than ever before.
The #63 Corvette had a tire puncture in the early in the race, putting them off sequence with the rest of the field. They would spend the next 18 hours fighting back.
The #64 Corvette was battling near the front of the field, when in the 8th hour the wheel came off the car and Tommy Milner had a major accident. He did eventually get the car back, the team fixed it and sent him back out, but they were 4 laps down.
With some great tire strategy and hard work, the #63 found its way back to the front group of GTE-Pro competitors with about 5 hours remaining. The #64 crew even assisted the 63 team with their brake change in the night hours, and changed all 4 brake assemblies in 1 minute 18 seconds. Incredible!
As the hours went by cars were falling by the wayside and coming into the final pit stop it was the #63 Corvette and the #97 Aston Martin gunning for the victory. After the cars left pitlane for the final time, with about 50 minutes remaining, the gap for the lead was 1.5 seconds with the Corvette leading the charge. At this point, the teams have been in France for the better part of a month. Millions of dollars, and thousands of manhours have been spent. 23 hours into the race and with a whole lot of hard work and even more luck, these 2 competitors found themselves battling for the highest honors they will see in their lifetime. It was time to leave it all on the table.
Photo by Jamey Price
Jordan Taylor (Corvette) and Johnathan Adam (Aston Martin), proceeded to drive the next 50 minutes like ever lap was the last lap. Taylor managed to stay in the lead, even after a divebomb from the Aston Martin in the closing laps of the race. coming to the 2nd chicane on the Mulsanne, Taylor had a major lockup and shortcut the chicane through the gravel. Coming to the start/finish line on the penultimate lap of the race, Jordan Taylor gets a tire puncture, and as they cross the line going into the final lap the Aston Martin makes the pass. There was nothing Taylor could do but try to save the car and make it around the 8.5 mile track one last time in order to be classified as a finisher.
In a Motorsport.com interview, Jordan explains what happened:
ďThey (tires) were pretty well used up. When the lock-up happened it was so abrupt and unexpected - usually you lock in the second part of the brake phase, but these just locked as soon as I touched the brake, so it caught me off-guard."
ďWhen I knew I wasnít going to make the chicane I decided just to go straight, try to make the most of it, so I went flat-out through the gravel trap to try to maintain the gap. But at that point I had such a big flat-spot on the tire, and I think I had another tire going down at the same time. It was just a train of unfortunate events."
With the tire shredding bits of the car as Taylor made his was around, it managed to hold together just long enough to make it back to parc ferme. As the car crossed the finish line, spectators and competitors were giving the Corvette a standing ovation for it's relentless competitive spirit. Emotions were at an all time high. Unfortunately, it wasn't their day to stand on the top step.
The history books may not show Corvette as the 2017 GTE-Pro class winner, but in our book, that was a win.
Photo by Chevrolet
VIDEO: Final Laps - Corvette vs Aston Martin
VIDEO: GTE-Pro Podium Ceremony
VIDEO: Full Race Highlights
OFFICIAL PRESS RELEASE:
LE MANS, France (June 18, 2017) Corvette Racing has experienced highs and lows in its 18 appearances at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Americaís premier GT racing team added to that Sunday with a dramatic third-place finish in the GTE Pro category with Antonio Garcia, Jan Magnussen and Jordan Taylor climbing onto the podium together for the second time in four years.
The No. 63 Mobil 1/SiriusXM Chevrolet Corvette C7.R came back from an early-race puncture and clawed its way back into contention before barely missing out on its ninth class victory at Le Mans since 2001.
Oliver Gavin, Tommy Milner and Marcel Fšssler placed eighth in the No. 64 Mobil 1/SiriusXM Corvette C7.R. The trio had a fight-back of their own after Milner lost a wheel in the opening half of the race. It proved to be the only mistake by that trio but the four laps lost proved costly as the GTE Pro race was as much as a seven-car fight into the last six hours.
"The GTE Pro battle was intense and certainly garnered the most attention of any race that I can recall," said Jim Campbell, Chevrolet U.S. Vice President, Performance Vehicles and Motorsports. "While our goal is always to win, it occurred to me that the Corvette Racing team has a never-give-up attitude. That element has been critical in many of the eight class wins in our Le Mans history. Jan, Antonio, Jordan and the entire 63 crew held together strong as a team and demonstrated incredible heart and determination all race long. I also want to thank the Corvette owners and fans around the world for the support they have been giving Corvette Racing at Le Mans from 2000 until today."
The early puncture for the No. 63 Corvette set the stage for a phenomenal drive back toward the front by the driving trio, the crew and engineers. The crew performed a perfect brake change near the 10.5 mark it took approximately 75 seconds to do all four wheels and the engineering team got the car back on the same pit strategy as the race leaders just after dawn Sunday.
From then on, the Corvette asserted itself and cycled through the lead up until the final hour. Magnussen and Taylor alternated single stints over the last three-and-a-half hours. The Corvette Racing team elected to take fuel only and change to Taylor in order to gain track position over the final 46 minutes. The two cars ran within 1.5 seconds of each other until the final lap.
The next event for Corvette Racing is the Sahlenís Six Hours at The Glen on Sunday, July 2 from Watkins Glen International in Watkins Glen, New York.
ANTONIO GARCIA - #63:
"That is this race. If you have a small mistake, your plan changes and this turns into a catch-up race. Thatís what happened to us. It took us 18 or 19 hours to catch back up to the leaders after the small puncture in my first stint. Another small puncture took out the opportunity for us to win this race. We had two of them at exactly the wrong moments. Itís a shame. After all the good work and strategy calls we made today, itís disappointing. We were in the right spot to win. It was a fair fight with the Aston Martin. We had a chance but it didnít happen. We come here to win this race. There is no other place we want to be. Itís a shame for the entire team. We all worked very hard in preparation. Both Jan and Jordan did fantastic jobs driving. There were just a number of things that went against us."
JAN MAGNUSSEN - #63:
"The race was one where everyone was so close and so evenly matched. When Antonio had a cut tire and had to come in early (in his second stint), that put us behind everybody and on a different strategy. That also meant that we would not be catching the slow zones in the same everyone else and that really started to bite us. So we fell further and further back. Until we got back on the same strategy as everyone else, it was an uphill fight. But the car was good and the team worked fantastic the whole time. Antonio and Jordan drove perfect throughout the whole race. When we perform like this as a team, itís difficult not to be disappointed with the outcome. A podium at Le Mans is pretty decent; itís just not what we came for."
JORDAN TAYLOR - #63:
"Obviously it was a disappointing finish. But if you look at the whole 24-hour race, we werenít always up front. So leaving with a podium finish is something we can be proud of. When you come so close, extremely close, that is the frustrating part. I think we showed a never-give-up attitude. We went two minutes down early in the race and fought back from there. A lot of people doubted that we could bring it back. I think everyone executed well and unfortunately it just wasnít our day."
OLIVER GAVIN - #64:
"It was one monumental battle in GTE today, whether we were dealing with the conditions, the competition or the traffic. We were right up there when we had our incident which cost us four-and-a-half laps and basically ended our race. The competition in GTE is so tight itís impossible to catch up that kind of delay. At Le Mans you canít but recognize the efforts of everybody involved with Corvette Racing, especially the guys of the 63 car. I feel terribly sorry for them to have lost the race in this way."
TOMMY MILNER - #64:
"This was a race all of us at Corvette Racing had high hopes for. But those hopes fell just a bit short. For us, Iím disappointed to have had the problem we did, which put an end to our race. Iím super bummed for the No. 63 guys to have come that close to a win. But they did a great job all race long. Everyone at Corvette Racing can hold their head up high as this has been one of the greatest GT races Le Mans has ever seen. Itís always a pleasure to come to Le Mans with Corvette, and this result makes you want to start to prepare for next year starting tomorrow."
MARCEL FńSSLER - #64:
"I enjoyed the race and the Corvette really a lot. We had great overall speed, all three of us, and I think we would have had the chance to fight for the win or a podium finish like the sister car had we not had our issue. But Le Mans decides for you and it cost us four laps the same four laps we were down on the winners at the end. I also feel sad for the sister car which had the puncture on the last lap. Even though it was a tough race, I enjoyed the event and the team enormously."
DOUG FEHAN, CORVETTE RACING PROGRAM MANAGER:
"Just as predicted this may have been one of the most epic GT races in Le Mans history. To have all the manufacturers so closely matched is a testament to all the hard work of the ACO and the FIA. We saw an event over the past 24 hours in which all of the 13 cars entered in GTE Pro were capable of leading and winning. Thatís good racing and we couldnít be more proud to have been part of it."
GARY PRATT, CORVETTE RACING TEAM PRINCIPAL:
"Whenever you have a great race like that itís always nice to win, but you canít feel bad about having a great race like that and it coming down to the last lap of a 24-hour race. Itís just fantastic racing and hats off to those guys. They did a good job and we were one lap shy."