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24H Le Mans

Corvette’s Race Ended “Within a Blink of An Eye”

Alexander Sims, Jordan Taylor reflect on team’s first Le Mans double retirement since 2010…

Photo: MPS Agency

Alexander Sims believes it was Corvette’s ‘race to lose’ in GTE-Pro, with the factory squad leaving the 24 Hours of Le Mans with its first double retirement in the French endurance classic in more than ten years.

Sims’ No. 64 Chevrolet Corvette C8.R was forced out of the race with six hours to go while battling for the class lead after contact between the No. 83 AF Corse Oreca 07 Gibson of Francois Perrodo on the Mulsanne Straight sent the Englishman hard into the barriers.

The crash came moments after the Pratt & Miller-run operation retired its No. 63 Corvette due to various mechanical issues following suspension failure earlier in the race.

Sims, who shared driving duties with full-season FIA World Endurance Championship drivers Tommy Milner and pole-winner Nick Tandy, was uninjured in the high-speed shunt.

“It was a huge, huge shame,” Sims told Sportscar365. “We had a bit of a setback early in the race, but we stuck at it and our pace was sensational at times, to put some of the laps in that we did.

“The car was working so well and was so hooked up. We got back into the race and then got into a position where we had a pit stop advantage on the Ferrari. It was all looking really good.

“I was driving down the straight and one of the prototypes just mid-judged things.”

Bronze-rated driver Perrodo as well as AF Corse team principal Amato Ferrari visited the Corvette Racing garage following the accident to offer their apologies for the incident.

Perrodo’s LMP2 Pro-Am entry received a three-minute stop-and-hold penalty for causing an incident.

The Frenchman admitted he made a “judgement mistake” in a three-wide move that included the No. 45 Algarve Pro Racing Oreca.

“We were three wide on the road,” Perrodo said in a TV interview. “[The APR car] to my right makes a tiny swerve and at this point, I thought I passed the Corvette. So I swerved left as well. The road is slightly curved there.

“To be fair: There is no excuse. I made a terrible mistake. It’s like a small movement with huge consequences.

“So I had to apologize to Corvette. It’s the least I can do. I know that nothing will make them feel better at this stage. It’s horrible. It’s horrible for me, for them, but of course particularly for them.”

The Corvettes entered Le Mans as pre-race favorites and controlled the opening hours until issues befell both entries.

The No. 63 car Jordan Taylor, Antonio Garcia and Nicky Catsburg had a lengthy trip to the garage to repair broken left-rear suspension, prior to an Hour 10 stop to change its diffuser.

It then sustained “significant mechanical damage – seen and unseen – at the rear of the car” according to a team statement, which forced its retirement in the 18th hour.

Prior to its race-ending accident, the No. 64 Corvette rebounded from an unscheduled trip to the garage for an early race brake change after trash built up within the right-rear wheel arch.

“Our race ended within the blink of an eye,” Sims added.

“It was a big shame for the whole Corvette team because they worked so hard. It felt like a ‘one hand on the trophy’ sort of thing.

“The race was ours to lose and we didn’t even do anything wrong. A huge shame, but it’s been a pleasure.”

The double retirement was Corvette’s first since 2010 when it also swept its category’s front row in qualifying.

What’s more, this weekend’s race marked the final year for the GTE-Pro class and all-pro driver lineups in the production-based ranks at Le Mans.

“Definitely a lot of things didn’t go our way. It started off so well,” Taylor told Sportscar365.

“Our No. 63 car led the first six hours pretty comfortably and felt like we were somewhat in control of it, running our own program.

“We unfortunately had some sort of failure on the left-rear, which tore up a bunch of other stuff as the car was coming back to the pits. Which is what took it so long to get fixed.

“From there, one issue that shook the car apart led to other mechanical issues, so we had to keep coming in to fix things and re-balance the car.

“The car was never back to normal after that incident. The balance was always a bit funny.

“It was putting ourselves a little bit in danger and putting other people’s races in danger: I felt like I was getting in people’s way and messing up people’s races. I think that was the right call.

“We usually never give up and always work to fix it, but this was one of those days where it was a little too much for us to overcome.

“And then to have the No. 64 car be in control of the race, with such a nice, comfortable lead, to have their race end the way it did, was pretty hard to swallow.”

Daniel Lloyd contributed to this report

John Dagys is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sportscar365. Dagys spent eight years as a motorsports correspondent for and SPEED Channel and has contributed to numerous other motorsports publications worldwide. Contact John

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