Corvette Racing return to track this weekend for the first time since their seventh class victory at the 24 hours of Le Mans in June. From the 8.5 miles Circuit de la Sarthe circuit in the French countryside the Lime Rock circuit couldn't be any more different as the American Le Mans competitors take to the 1.5 mile former gravel quarry. Aside from the sub-60-second lap times the major difference sees the race become a quick two-hour, 45-minute sprint with two scheduled stops.
“The transition from the longest track on the schedule to the shortest is always a test for race teams,” said Corvette Racing program manager Doug Fehan. “The two tracks are dramatically different, yet many people underestimate just how fast Lime Rock really is. With lap times under a minute and average speeds approaching 100 mph for the GT cars, pit stops are paramount because you’re almost certain to lose a lap during a green-flag stop. The engineering staff plays a crucial role in developing a plan, and the crew has to perform perfectly. So in spite of the immense differences between Lime Rock and Le Mans, both races ultimately come down to strategy and execution.”
Jan Magnussen is looking forward to his return to the Connecticut countryside following his GT Class victory in the Grand-Am Memorial Day Classic five weeks ago. “You always like a track where you won your last race,” told Magnussen. “Lime Rock is very challenging, a bit bumpy and definitely the kind of Old School circuit that I like. It’s fast and fun to drive, but it’s very, very hard to race cleanly there because there are no obvious passing points.
“When I won at Lime Rock in May, I learned the importance of qualifying well there,” said Magnussen. “We started on the GT class pole, and I saw the value of being able to do my own race while everyone behind me was fighting each other. I put a lot of emphasis on qualifying, but Lime Rock is always going to be a hard race for everybody.”
The Corvette team have been busy in the time from Le Mans repairing the chassis that was side-lined in a high-speed crash following 16 hours in lead of the class. “After Le Mans, the team took the car back to the shop, put it on the chassis plate, and assessed the damage,” Fehan reported. “When we saw how the production aluminium frame had compressed perfectly to absorb the impact, it gave everyone an even greater appreciation of the effort that the production Corvette engineers put into vehicle safety for the consumer. No pun intended, but things like that don’t happen by accident – they’re designed in. That’s why Corvette competes in the GT class: The race car is relevant to the product because it is the product.”
The American Le Mans Northeast Grand Prix is scheduled to start at 2:05 p.m. ET on Saturday, July 9. Live video coverage is available on ESPN3.com in the US and americanlemans.com for international users.