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Corvettes Will Lead The GTE Pro Charge At Le Mans

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Friday, June 10 2022

Corvette C8s will start P1 and P2 in class at LeMans on Saturday.

By John Sturbin | Senior Writer
RacinToday.com

Corvette Racing will lead the seven-car GTE Pro field to the green flag for the rolling start of the 90th running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans Saturday afternoon in France.

Nick Tandy led the 1-2 result in Thursday night’s Hyperpole session with a lap of 3-minutes, 49.985-seconds/132.538 mph in the No. 64 Chevrolet Corvette C8.R. Tandy gave Corvette Racing its first pole on the 8.5-mile Circuit de la Sarthe since 2010.

That also was the last time Corvette Racing started Le Mans with two cars on the front row. Antonio Garcia sealed the effort in the No. 63 C8.R with lap of 3:50.177/132.414 mph. Qualifying continued a solid pre-race program for the bright yellow, mid-engine Corvettes which are competing at Le Mans for the second time.

Overall, the Corvettes will start 33rd and 34th in a 62-car field dominated by 27 LMP2 entries.

Meanwhile, Brendon Hartley secured the overall pole for Toyota Gazoo Racing in the No. 8 GR010 HYBRID. Hartley’s lap of 3:24.408 beat the sister No. 7 GR010 of Kamui Kobayashi to the top spot in the final moments of the session.

In LMP2, WRT earned P1 in the No. 31 ORECA after a lap in 3:28.394 by Robin Frijns. Norman Nato will start second in class in the No. 41 WRT entry, sealing a 1-2 for the WRT-run 07 Gibsons.

Tandy, driving with FIA World Endurance Championship full-season teammate Tommy Milner and Alexander Sims, claimed his first pole at Le Mans. Tandy was only 0.192-seconds clear of Garcia, who is driving with IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship teammate Jordan Taylor and Nicky Catsburg.

“This year does feel different to last year,” said Tandy, 37, of Great Britain. “We’ve obviously taken a step forward with what we know about this car and this racetrack. But also the basic preparation of the team being in this WEC paddock with this Corvette and these regulations, there is a bit of pressure off. It’s not a new environment anymore. It’s a familiar environment. We can really concentrate on the job.

“We have the experience of how to make the most out of the pit stops and with the way the sporting regulations work, which is different from how we normally choreograph pit stops. We’ve had it pre-organized and practiced. We know what to do with heated tires _ these sorts of things with the WEC-specific tire compounds. It’s all these kinds of things that we’d normally experience for the first time. Now it’s in our pocket. You can see from the Test Day onward that it’s been much better preparation than in the past.”

The two Corvettes have shown impressive form since Sunday’s Test Day, aided by the full benefit of running the WEC schedule with the No. 64 Corvette.

“I’m pretty sure we’re the team that has done the most laps and done the most quality running,” Tandy said. “The race is still to come. Anything can happen. But looking at how the build-up has been the last week, we couldn’t ask for more. With qualifying both cars on the front row and having really good knowledge through practice about all the different conditions as we can experience, there isn’t a great deal extra that we could have done as a team. We have all the basics covered. Now we need to go into the race and perform and hope for a bit of luck. The drivers are ready. The car and the team are ready. Now let’s go out and win a 24-hour race.”

Tandy also noted the continued presence of Corvette fans from around the world. “It’s great to see so many Corvette flags around the track,” Tandy said. “This is for everyone who is here to support us and to watch us. These GTE cars are so much fun to drive when you’re out there with fresh tires and low fuel around this circuit…it’s a real privilege.”

Corvette Racing is seeking its ninth class win and first since 2015. “Every year, this race starts and it’s just a dogfight from start to finish,” said Taylor, 31, of Orlando, Fla. “I’m excited to get things started because I know the car is quick and comfortable to drive. All of the drivers in our car are happy with it. We’ll be in a good spot, I think. For us, the name of the game is staying out of trouble but at the same time you don’t want to lose too much time throughout. We have a good, competitive car. It feels stronger than it did last year when we finished second, so that makes things exciting.

“The big thing with this race is that it’s always important to be at the front. You never know when you’re going to get a slow zone or safety car that can separate the field. In America, you can drop back and hope for a yellow to get things back. Here, you always try to maximize track position. Starting up-front, you want to be up there in case one of those things happen. Looking at where we qualified, we definitely want to stay up there as long as possible to control things as much as we can and hope nothing out of our control takes that away.” 

The world’s most prestigious endurance race is scheduled to start Saturday at 4 p.m. (local time in France). MotorTrend, in partnership with Warner Bros. Discovery-owned Eurosport, will start its live programming in the United States at 9:30 a.m. (EDT). As an added bonus for Chevrolet and Corvette fans, MotorTrend-Plus will stream multiple on-boards during the event _ including footage from the No. 64 C8.R of Milner, Tandy and Sims.

In addition to the televised broadcast, Radio Le Mans again will carry the event. Fans also can view live timing and scoring on the 24 Hours of Le Mans app and via the race’s official website.

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Cadillac Racing has begun the countdown to the debut of its Project GTP Hypercar that will compete in the 91st running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans in June 2023.

The Cadillac Hypercar.

The Project GTP Hypercar is the third-generation Prototype from General Motors’ luxury brand. In 2023 Cadillac will contest the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and the FIA World Endurance Championship, including the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

“Cadillac will be competing again on the world racing stage, and we are all thrilled to return to Le Mans after 22 years,” said Rory Harvey, vice president Global Cadillac. “By competing in both the 2023 IMSA and WEC championships, Cadillac Racing has the opportunity to demonstrate its capability, craftsmanship and technology.”

Co-developed by Cadillac Design, Cadillac Racing and Dallara, the Project GTP Hypercar incorporates key brand design characteristics. Elements of the brand’s heritage, including vertical lighting and floating blades, are present throughout and connect the Project GTP Hypercar to the future of Cadillac.

“The Project GTP Hypercar is a unique convergence of form and function and showcases Cadillac’s future performance aesthetic,” said Chris Mikalauskas, lead exterior creative designer, Cadillac. “We have plenty more to come, from the upcoming race car to amazing production vehicles.”

Cadillac has been competing at the forefront of American sports car racing in the IMSA manufacturers championship since 2017, achieving numerous wins, podiums and championships in the Cadillac DPi-V.R.

“Competing for the overall win at Le Mans with an iconic American brand like Cadillac is an honor,” said Laura Wontrop Klauser, GM sports car racing program manager. “The entire team is excited to continue building Cadillac’s racing legacy by competing against the very best internationally and in the world’s toughest race.”

The race car will be powered by an all-new 5.5L DOHC V-8 paired to the LMDh common hybrid system.

Cadillac’s commitment to performance is embodied in its V-Series portfolio. Its recent expansion includes the CT4-V and CT5-V sport sedans, Escalade-V as well as the track-capable CT4-V Blackwing and CT5-V Blackwing.

The Hypercar will begin on-track testing this summer with its first race appearance booked for IMSA’s season-opening Rolex 24 at Daytona in January 2023.

Recent Cadillac Racing achievements:

_ IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championships in 2017, 2018 and 2021.

_ Rolex 24 at Daytona victories in 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020.

_ Winning the Michelin North American Endurance Cup in 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020.

_ Prior to competing in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, Cadillac raced in the Pirelli World Challenge Championship, earning Driver and Manufacturer Championships in 2005, 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015.

Editor’s Note: John Sturbin is a Texas-based journalist specializing in motorsports. During a near 30-year career with the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, he won the Bloys Britt Award for top motorsports story of the year (1991) as judged by The Associated Press; received the National Hot Rod Association’s Media Award (1997) and several in-house Star-Telegram honors. He also was inaugural recipient of the Texas Motor Speedway Excellence in Journalism Award (2009). His list of freelance clients includes Texas Motor Speedway, the Dallas Morning News, New York Newsday, Rome (N.Y) Daily Sentinel, Corpus Christi (Texas) Caller Times, NASCAR Wire Service and Ford Racing).

 

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Friday, June 10 2022
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