The factory Corvette drivers doubt that they will be the GTE Pro class pacesetters in this year’s Le Mans 24 Hours, but are confident that the car’s new wider track makes it more stable and easier to drive over 24 hours, giving them a good chance of fighting for victory.Richard Westbrook reckons the AF Corse and Luxury Ferraris have better raw pace than the Corvette.
“At Le Mans it’s always a trade-off,” he told AUTOSPORT. “We’re a little bit behind Ferrari but I think we’ve got reliability, I think our driver lineup is as good as any. I think we’ve got a great chance.
“Ferrari is, for me, the favorite. But that’s not a bad thing because we’ve been the favorites for the past two years. It’s a bit of pressure off.”
Oliver Gavin agrees that the car is easier to drive and that it is still not the fastest GTE Pro car on the track.
“The fastest Ferrari will be quickest and then the Aston and then us. We won’t be the quickest but Porsche will be there at the end of the race too and you can never write them off,” he said. “It is a bit of performance balancing from last year because basically we were really struggling at the end of last year against the Ferrari.
“We’ll be better through the Esses and Indianapolis; the penalty is the car has more drag and the straight-line speed is similar to last year’s with the engine upgrades.”
Corvette won the GTE Pro class in 2011 but had to run close to the limit of its capabilities according to Antonio Garcia, the Spanish driver saying that he found it “very, very hard.”
Garcia, who partnered Olivier Beretta and Tommy Milner to victory for Corvette in 2011, said that he finds the 2012 C6 to be significantly easier to drive than last year’s car.
“Last year was probably the most difficult car I have had here,” Garcia said. “The Ferrari and the BMW were very competitive and we had to go 100 percent straight away.
“Right away when I did my first laps at the test, it was a definite change. It was a little bit easier to get the Le Mans flow.”