June 13, 2018, by Kay Presto, www.carsandcompetition.com –
Corvette Racing went as fast as it ever has in the GTE Pro category around the Circuit de la Sarthe on Wednesday in the first of three qualifying sessions for the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Both Chevrolet Corvette C7.Rs dipped into the 3:50 bracket and averaged more than 131 mph around the 8.47-mile track . Antonio Garcia led the way Wednesday in the No. 63 Mobil 1/SiriusXM Chevrolet Corvette C7.R with a lap of 3:50.789 (132.041 mph) to rank 11th of 17 GTE Pro entries after the week’s initial two-hour time trial session. He and Jan Magnussen placed third in last year’s GTE Pro race, and they will try for victory this year with Mike Rockenfeller.
“Everything is still going to our predetermined plan,” Garcia said. “The various slow zones in the beginning of the qualifying session didn’t help, of course. We’re quite a bit off the pole position time, but we’re not too far off the second group of cars. We’ll just try to be as fast as we can again tomorrow. There’s still more in the car. The good thing is we get faster the more we run.”
Not far behind Garcia was Tommy Milner in the No. 64 Mobil 1/SiriusXM Corvette C7.R at 3:50.952 (131.979 mph). He, Oliver Gavin and Marcel Fässler are teaming at Le Mans for the second year in a row and have a 24-hour victory to their credit – the 2016 Rolex 24 At Daytona.
“No matter what, we know it’s going to be a tough race,” Milner added.” We may run around 13th or 14th for the first part of the race and then if we keep our nose clean, who knows? After that we will see what happens. We all went for a quick time Wednesday. In talking to Antonio a little bit, we were both frustrated with traffic and slow zones. But I’m sure that was a common theme up and down the pit lane. We have enough pace to mix it up the seven or eight cars ahead of us. We’ll keep working and hope it’s enough come Saturday and Sunday.”
Wednesday’s qualifying results bore out what Corvette Racing already knew – that this year’s fight in GTE Pro would be the team’s most difficult in its 19-year run at Le Mans. So close is the battle among the six manufacturers in the category that an improvement of one second in Thursday’s two sessions could move the Corvettes to the third row of the GTE Pro grid.
Qualifying concludes Thursday with a pair of two-hour sessions – 7 to 9 p.m. and 10 p.m. to midnight CET.