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Corvette’s Le Mans Prep Boosted By Full WEC Campaign

Tommy Milner and Nick Tandy think Corvette can launch victory bid after increased prep work…

Photo: MPS Agency

Tommy Milner reckons that Corvette Racing is better prepared for its second 24 Hours of Le Mans with the C8.R thanks to its decision to commit to a full-season FIA World Endurance Championship campaign for the first time, as opposed to running a one-off round prior to the French enduro.

The American manufacturer is in the midst of a full-season tilt in the GTE-Pro category, with Milner and co-driver Nick Tandy driving the No. 64 Corvette C8.R against factory efforts from rival manufacturers Ferrari and Porsche.

In previous years, Corvette would typically run one or two single-car entries in the buildup to Le Mans as a way to prepare for the event.

In 2018, it ran a single C7.R in the 6 Hours of Shanghai, followed by appearances at Sebring (2019), COTA (2020) and Spa (2021).

Now, with more WEC running leading into Le Mans, Milner believes that the team was able to learn the nuances of the series in a way that it was not able to do previously, which has boosted its preparation.

“More than anything, it’s probably the operational side of things that is a benefit for the team,” Milner told Sportscar365.

“The team has spent a lot of time in the offseason preparing for the way the pit stops work, which they do most years anyways but a lot of the time is also spent practicing IMSA pitstops.

“We saw at Sebring and at Spa as well that there was a little bit of time to be gained in the pitlane compared to our competitors. So I think in that sense, it’s been a huge help.” 

According to Milner, the extra running has also allowed Corvette to get a better grip on the WEC-specific tire compounds.

This was especially useful as the IMSA WeatherTech Sportscar Championship traded the ‘confidential’ Michelin specification for customer-spec Pilot Sport S9M tires when it introduced GTD Pro at the beginning of the year.

That switch meant that Corvette would have been at a disadvantage, had it not committed to the full WEC campaign, says Milner.

“It’s also been helpful for us as we haven’t done as much testing as now this year and with IMSA being on a customer Michelin tire, we normally would have run on the confidential tire [there],” he said.

“So had we not done the WEC this year, we would have been behind the eight ball a bit on track running on the compound of tires that we’ll use this year.”

“So we have some experience on that and we have a good baseline for that as well.

It’s always different coming here to Le Mans, with the track being so unique, long straightaways.

“The compounds that we typically use here are a little bit different than what we would normally use in the U.S.

“So all things considered it has been a good change for Corvette Racing to spend more time here in WEC and understand how the pit stops work and more running on a tire that we wouldn’t normally have run in the U.S.”

Tandy, who is going into his second Le Mans start with Corvette, echoed his co-driver’s sentiment and indicated that the added preparation will allow the team to launch a serious bid for class honors – something Milner agrees on.

“I think we have everything needed to have a really strong run at it,” Tandy said.

“We’ve done the whole WEC season buildup, we know the car, we know the tires, we know from this race last year what we need to focus on.

“So there’s no excuses, we’re here to win and anything else will be a failure.”

Davey Euwema is a Sportscar365 reporter based in The Netherlands, covering the FIA World Endurance Championship, DTM, Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, among other series.

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