Corvette Racing Wins
24 Hours of Le Mans
Corvette Wins GTE Class, Scores Seventh Win for Chevrolet
LE MANS, France, June 12, 2011 "The car's a lap down, but we can
make that up," said Corvette Racing team manager Gary Pratt with six
hours remaining in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Pratt's words proved
prophetic as the No. 73 Compuware Corvette C6.R driven by Olivier
Beretta, Tommy Milner and Antonio Garcia relentlessly pursued the
class-leading No. 51 Ferrari 458 Italia, cutting the margin by
seconds every lap. American driver Tommy Milner overtook Ferrari
driver Toni Vilander with two hours and 10 minutes to go, and
steadily increased his lead as he completed his double stint. Garcia
then took over the yellow and black car for the final hour and the
run to the finish.
The No. 73 Corvette C6.R completed 314 laps and finished two minutes
and 29 seconds ahead of the runner-up Ferrari. Today's victory was
the seventh class win at Le Mans for Corvette Racing, and its first
in the GTE Pro category. It came as Chevrolet celebrates its 100th
anniversary and the 10th anniversary of the team's first Le Mans
victory in 2001. It was the sixth Le Mans title for Beretta, the
third for Garcia, and the first for Milner.
"This is my first time at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, but I've watched
Corvettes race here my whole life," said Mark Reuss, President GM
North America. "To come here for the first time on the 100th
anniversary of Chevrolet and to have another Corvette victory is
The contest was a dramatic one, as the No. 74 Corvette C6.R of
Oliver Gavin, Jan Magnussen, and Richard Westbrook suffered a
stunning reversal of fortune. After leading for nearly 16 hours, the
car was extensively damaged in a crash in the 17th hour. Although
Magnussen was uninjured in the high-speed shunt, the car was retired
on the spot.
The No. 73 Corvette C6.R had been running steadily in the top five,
and the No. 74's misfortune moved it to second in the GTE standings.
More than a lap behind the No. 51 Ferrari 458 Italia at the time of
the accident, the No. 73 Corvette drivers chased down the class
leader. As rain began to fall in the 20th hour, Garcia was gaining
1.5 seconds per lap. Milner took over at the 21st hour and continued
to reel in the Ferrari, gaining as much as six seconds per lap
during his stint.
Milner made the pass for the lead on the Mulsanne Straight on lap
283. "That was the hardest drive of my life," said the 25-year-old
racer. "It would have been a lot easier if it hadn't been
sprinkling, raining, not raining, and then wet all that plus the
pressure of the situation. I'd been super comfortable in the car all
day long, but I was certainly not comfortable then. I was just
trying to drive the car to what the track would allow. Every lap it
changed, every corner it changed.
"When you start racing, you hope that one day you can compete for a
win," Milner noted. "To get one here at Le Mans in my first year
with Corvette Racing is very cool."
"I was very happy with how the race turned out, even though it did
not always go our way," said Garcia. "We had ups and downs we
didn't get a break with the first safety car, we had punctured
tires, and so on. Every time I was in the car, I tried to go as fast
as possible and stay out of trouble. You have to never give up here,
and just keep pushing. Today it paid off.
"In the final minutes, everything comes into your mind," the
Spaniard added. "It went perfectly, a real easy last stint compared
to all the ones before it. This was the first time I drove a car at
the finish at Le Mans, and it was very special. There is no better
time to win this race than in the centennial year for Chevrolet. Now
I'm already thinking about next year."
Beretta became ill after driving behind the safety car during an
extended caution period, and drove a limited time in the second half
of the race.
"Today was not my sixth win, but a win for the team, Tommy, Antonio,
and all of the engineers and crew who did a wonderful job," Beretta
said. "I was sick in the middle of the night from following the pace
car, but I recovered. I'm very happy for the entire team."
Corvette Racing scored six wins in the GTS/GT1 class at Le Mans
(2001-02, 2004-06, and 2009). The team moved to the GT2 class in
2010, which was renamed GTE Pro in 2011.
"If I were to write a script to celebrate the 100th anniversary of
Chevrolet and the 10th anniversary of Corvette Racing's first win at
Le Mans, this would undoubtedly be it," said Corvette Racing program
manager Doug Fehan. "Louis Chevrolet was himself a racer, and his
motto, 'Never give up!' is a philosophy we embraced from our first
visit here. I think the result today embodied the spirit of
Chevrolet's co-founder and of that iconic phrase."
24 Hours of Le
Mans GTE Pro Top Five Finishers after 24 Hours:
1. 73 Beretta/Milner/Garcia, Corvette C6.R, 314
2. 51 Fisichella/Bruni/Vilander, Ferrari F458 Italia, 314
3. 56 Priaulx/Muller/Hand, BMW M3 GT, 313
4. 77 Lieb/Lietz/Henzler, Porsche 997 GT3 RSR, 312
5. 76 Narac/Pilet/Armindo, Porsche 997 GT3 RSR, 311
About Chevrolet: Founded
in Detroit in 1911, Chevrolet celebrates its centennial as a global
automotive brand with annual sales of about 4.25 million vehicles in
more than 140 countries. Chevrolet provides consumers with
fuel-efficient, safe and reliable vehicles that deliver high
quality, expressive design, spirited performance and value. The
Chevrolet portfolio includes iconic performance cars such as
Corvette and Camaro; dependable, long-lasting pickups and SUVs such
as Silverado and Suburban; and award-winning passenger cars and
crossovers such as Spark, Cruze, Malibu, Equinox and Traverse.
Chevrolet also offers gas-friendly to gas-free" solutions including
Cruze Eco and Volt. Cruze Eco offers 42 mpg highway while Volt
offers 35 miles of electric, gasoline-free driving and an additional
344 miles of extended range. Most new Chevrolet models offer OnStar
safety, security and convenience technologies including OnStar
Hands-Free Calling, Automatic Crash Response and Stolen Vehicle
Slowdown. More information regarding Chevrolet models can be found