For the 21st time in 22 years, Corvette Racing crossed the Atlantic to participate in the greatest endurance race of all time – the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
The race is normally staged in June, but like everything everywhere the race had to be delayed -- it was rescheduled to August.
The Corvette faithful were eager to see how the new mid-engine platform, embodied in the C8R race car, would compete with the similar configurations of Ferrari, Porsche and other World-class sports cars. The plan had been to debut the C8R last year (2020), but, well, you know. . . . . .
The field in LMGTE PRO in 2021 year included eight entries -- two factory Ferraris, two factory Porsches, two independent Porsche teams, and the two Corvettes. In past years the field has included Aston Martin, BMW, and the blue oval boys (but they only come to Le Mans to stage publicity stunts -- they don't take the event seriously or come consistently like real sports car manufacturers).
The # 63 Corvette was in contention for first place the entire race. Each of the three Corvette drivers drove double stints to start the race and later triple stints, and each driver led the race for a time. After 12 hours there were 5 LMGTE PRO cars on the lead lap -- the #51 Ferrari, #63 Corvette, #92 Porsche, #91 Porsche, and #52 Ferrari. With six hours remaining it had become a two-car race.
I had gone to bed with about 8 hours to go. When I woke up at 7:00 AM I was hoping for better results -- but the race was exactly the same as the night before. Ferrari - Corvette lap after lap, lap after lap. The C8R had excellent pace and the drivers had done everything they could to catch the race leader.
In the end, the Corvette was just 40 seconds behind the Ferrari -- or 99.9537% as fast at the 1st place finisher.
Here is the post-race quote from Chevy:
"Today's second-place result in GTE Pro for the No. 63 Corvette C8.R and drivers Antonio Garcia, Jordan Taylor and Nicky Catsburg is a significant achievement as we debuted the mid-engine Corvette C8.R at Le Mans," said Jim Campbell, Chevrolet U.S Vice President, Performance and Motorsports. "To be on the podium at Le Mans with the C8.R is very gratifying. It's a testament to the hard work and determination of our Corvette production and racing teams."
In 2022, we have finished the first four races of the new racing class -- GT PRO -- and the Corvette Racing folks are heading back to Le Mans for a second attempt to win the greatest endurance race of all time.
Good luck to Corvette Racing!