Corvette Racing team drivers were running at Le Mans last Sunday in preparation for June’s 24 Hour endurance race. Logistics were such that the team was using a borrowed C6.R Corvette from Larbre Competition for their practice. This is the first time a pre-race test day has been allowed in two years.
Portions of public roads in the region have to be closed to allow for the test session, but that did not stop almost 25,000 racing fans from showing up, according to track officials. The Circuit de la Sarthe itself covers almost eight and a half miles with the fastest cars posting lap times under three minutes and twenty seconds, or 236.7 km/h (147.7 mph) average speed.
“Everything worked according to plan,” said Corvette Racing team manager Gary Pratt. “Tommy Milner completed his mandatory 10 laps at the beginning of the morning session to qualify for the race, and then the other three drivers cycled through the Corvette C6.R to cover all the areas we had planned to work on.”
Milner last drove at Le Mans in 2007 and was required to complete 10 laps to be eligible for the practice sessions in June. “I got out on the track at 9 a.m. sharp to get in my mandatory 10 laps,” Milner said. “It was easy enough, even if the track was still quite dirty at that time. Le Mans is not too difficult a track to get used to again.”
Milner also set fastest lap in the #50 Larbre Competition C6.R, which was registered in the GTE-Am class. Corvette Racing will compete in the 24-hour race in the GTE-Pro class – reserved for professional teams – once the team’s gear and cars arrive in France. Milner’s fastest time of 4:04.222 (124.92 mph) amply demonstrates the difference between competition classes in the race.
The customer car received plenty of professional attention during the session. “We completed our entire test day schedule,” Olivier Beretta said, “and we had a great day in almost ideal circumstances. We didn’t look for performance per se, but instead worked on the suspension, the aero, the tires, and the chassis.”
The 79th running of the Le Mans 24 Hours will begin with practice and qualifying on Wednesday and Thursday, June 8-9. The race starts at 3:00 p.m. local time on Saturday, June 11.