Corvette Racing has reverted to its spare car for this weekend’s Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen, following Marcel Fassler’s race-ending accident at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Fassler escaped injury in the high-speed accident in the early stages of the French endurance classic when his No. 64 Chevrolet Corvette C7.R was clipped by a GTE-Am class Porsche in the Porsche Curves.
According to team manager Ben Johnson, it became quickly apparent the team’s third chassis, which was on-site at Le Mans as a fully race-prepped spare car, would need to be put into action for the fifth GT Le Mans round of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season.
“After we got through understanding Marcel was OK and dealing with all of the paperwork trackside during the race, the severity of the impact, just from history, we knew the car would probably wasn’t going to be something we were going to be racing here at Watkins Glen,” Johnson told Sportscar365.
Johnson said Chassis No. 4, which was last used in the 1000 Miles of Sebring FIA World Endurance Championship race in March, was taken from the expo area at Le Mans, as a show car, to the team’s pit box post-race and prepped for a first-class trip back Stateside.
“We made plans to put that on the air freight and put the damaged 64 chassis back on the sea freight,” he explained.
“That night, the guys stayed late after the race, took the engine and gearbox out of Chassis 6 and put them in Chassis 4 and brought it home.
“It added work because there’s electronics changes and a few updates we needed to go from Le Mans to IMSA [spec] but it really wasn’t a huge additional effort because the car was already prepped to race, it just needed to be updated to the latest components.”
While Johnson said the effort was pretty “turn key” in reverting to the third car, he doesn’t expect to see the other chassis put into service later this year.
“We’ll fix it and it will be there to be used but there is no functional difference between the cars,” he said. “It’s more of a rotation of chassis throughout the season.
“This one is in a good position to run the rest of the season, barring any more accidents.”
Gavin Has “Fond Memories” of Championship-Winning Corvette Chassis
Oliver Gavin said he’s delighted to be reunited with Chassis 4, which took he and longtime co-driver Tommy Milner to a number of milestone victories and the GTLM championship in 2016.
It included class honors in the Rolex 24 at Daytona and Twelve Hours of Sebring, as well as Corvette Racing’s 100th win at Lime Rock Park, prior to it being replaced after a fire at the Roar Before the Rolex 24 the following year.
“It certainly has some very fond and happy memories for Tommy and I,” Gavin told Sportscar365.
“It was a freak fire incident at Daytona in 2017 that basically took that car out of circulation and then it’s been the car we’ve had as a spare and run in WEC.”
Gavin said he’s hoping the change of chassis will help turn the No. 4 crew’s luck around following a challenging start to the season.
The Englishman and Milner currently sit 7th in the GTLM standings, with only a single podium finish to their credit.
“I don’t think [our run] could get any worse!” Gavin said. “Every single race this year, you could point to things that have unfortunately went wrong for us.
“We all know that it happens this way. You have these runs and they do end, it breaks, and your luck changes and you start getting results.
“We’ve been fast. The last three events, Long Beach, Mid-Ohio and even at Le Mans, we had a car to challenge for the victory, but everything didn’t fall into place.
“Let’s hope it turns for us this weekend.”