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Le Mans 2018 - The Aftermath - (Spoiler Alert!)

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Mon 18 Jun 18 12:26

Le Mans 2018 - The Aftermath - (Spoiler Alert!)

So, now its all over, It wasn’t one of the greatest races it has to be said.

From a Corvette standpoint, very disappointing, an eventual 5th in class for the 63 car and a DNF for the 64 car, caused by overheating issues.

Toyota were in a class of their own (literally actually!) so barring incidents were set to win overall. No doubt much will be made of “F1 Driver” Alonso winning, but I think Nakujima did the majority of the “donkey work”, although Alonso was definitely very quick!

We are in the fortunate position of living only miles from the track, and it was obvious from a visit to the circuit as early at Christmas time who was going to win in GT, Porsche having paid millions in advertising and various other publicity and corporate sponsorship deals around the circuit.

During Test Weekend, the (awful) engine notes alone of the Porsches implied how much they had in reserve and, they were quick even then. We knew that there would be BoP changes for the race, but after the Ford cheating episode of 2016 we had hoped the ACO would be less overt in their favouritism. Alas, when the changes were handed out, some of the slower cars got even more penalties, (Corvette of course, among them, with an extra 11kgs!) and the Porsches received no penalties at all! Needless to say, the other recipient of assistance was Ferrari, and as the history of the marque is one of various methods of assistance from one or other corrupt organisation, this is no suprise! However, the Astons, who were clearly struggling with the new car were not helped much this year, and the BMWs were too new to be reliable. The Fords of course, were sandbagging for much of the time, again, just listening to the engine note change gave the lie to their use of turbo boost!

All in all, we pretty much knew the outcome from the beginning, which is a shame, because overall we enjoyed the week.

At the race end, on the slow down and "parc ferme" laps, after the general applause for the winners, the thing which seemed to delight the crowd most was Antonio Garcia’s high-revs-low-speed, blast past the grandstands to turn in to the parc ferme entrance, which sort of summed it up really - based on the amount of Corvette Racing clothing being worn around the circuit it was obvious which was the most popular car!

One wonders how long GM will allow Doug Fehan to bring them over when things are so stacked against them now - the lack of GM advertising and their non participation in the WEC clearly going against them. During the week Doug and the drivers were asked by many people, myself included, about the "disadvantage" of not being part of the WEC. Doug was typically diplomatic, quoting the Corvette marketplace and the difficulty of involving the parts of GM in the regions that the WEC travels to. He obviously would love Corvette to be involved, but knows that his bosses won't sanction that at the moment and with a budget coming only from North America, its not possible.

Olly Gavin had some interesting insights into the differences between IMSA and WEC (and therefore Le Mans) and Tommy Milner was his usual amusingly forthright self, jokingly suggesting that the WEC teams decided their collective strategy before the race!

The reality is that the FIA is determined that it has the upper hand over IMSA (who clearly put on a better series) and Corvette's non participation will always be used against them. I feel sorry for the team, its tough to see the crews rushing around performing the quickest pit-stops by far, only for them to see it all wasted when a Ford or Porsche cruises past the 'Vettes out on Les Hunaundiers. Apparently its most likely that next year Corvette will still be running the same car, so lets hope they can squeeze something out of it, or the FIA/ACO!

Finally, a mention must go to the Virage Mulsanne event, which many of the UK contingent of Corvettes attended, along with many French Corvettes. The organisers put on a really great day and really looked after us with good parking, a very nice free lunch, drinks, and even the brief attendance of the 63 car crew. A very enjoyable day all round!

Up-Date: The ACO announced yesterday that the 67 Ford GT had been penalised for a driving hours infringement - Tony Kanaan did not complete the full 6 hours required. The result is a drop from 4th in class to 12th. This moves the 63 Corvette into 4th in class. If Corvette were chasing points in the WEC it would have helped - I suspect it gives them little consolation now though.

Last edited by kentvette on Tue 19 Jun 18 09:03; edited 2 times in total. [5 %]
Stephen J Irons
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Corvette Club France
Corvettes of Southern California
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