Connect with us

24H Le Mans

Eastwood Bullish After ‘Big Jumps’ With Corvette Z06 GT3.R

Combination of Corvette, TF Sport and experienced drivers giving Charlie Eastwood confidence for Le Mans…

Photo: Corvette Racing

Corvette factory driver Charlie Eastwood says he’s confident about TF Sport’s chances of success in LMGT3 in the 24 Hours of Le Mans owing to the better-than-expected progress made so far during the FIA World Endurance Championship season.

Full-season WEC entrant TF is flying the flag for Corvette at Le Mans in the new-for-2024 LMGT3 class with its pair of Chevrolet Corvette Z06 GT3.Rs following the discontinuation of the GTE-Am class.

The British outfit’s No. 82 entry was quickest in Sunday’s test day in the hands of rookie Sebastien Baud, who set a best lap of 3:59.883 to top the class by 0.037 seconds.

Rui Andrade was 10th quickest in the No. 81 Corvette he shares with Eastwood and Tom van Rompuy, just over half a second off the pace.

Looking ahead to his fifth consecutive appearance at Le Mans with TF, which previously ran Aston Martin machinery, Eastwood believes the team’s growing understanding of the Z06 GT3.R and the experience of the No. 81 crew puts he team in good shape.

“The jumps we’re making race to race are more than I would have expected, which is great,” Eastwood told Sportscar365. “We’ve been learning so much and we learnt so much at Spa about what we need to do for Le Mans.

“The brand has been so successful at Le Mans and alongside TF, they always come with a rocket, so on paper it’s a good package.

“Both Rui and Tom have done the race as well and there are a lot of drivers in LMGT3 who haven’t done it. You can’t underestimate this place. This is my fifth year, and year one to year two was a huge step, and so was year two to year three, and I won it my third year.

“Nobody wants to mess up in their first year, but if you underdrive this track, you’ll lose literally seconds per lap. On paper we are looking strong.”

The No. 81 Corvette has failed to finish two of the opening three races of the WEC season, having retired in Qatar when damage to the electrical harness was discovered after an early gear shift issue, before further gearbox led to a further DNF at Spa.

But Eastwood says he is encouraged by the steps that Corvette has made on the reliability front since the car’s debut at the start of the year, which include the implementation “erratum” fixes permitted under the FIA GT3 regulations.

“For sure with a brand new car, we are fault-finding quite quickly at the moment,” said the Irish driver.

“But having the two [GTD] Pro cars at IMSA and the extra car in GTD as well, as well as GT World Challenge America, there are more and more cars we can use to find out what we need to be more reliable.

“The No. 82 has been faultless throughout the season. We’ve had a couple of niggles [on the No. 81], but they were all stemming from the same issue so hopefully we don’t have that issue going forward.”

Eastwood admits there is pressure to continue Corvette Racing’s incredible legacy at Le Mans, as the American brand chases what would be a 10th class win in the French classic and with a fifth different model of car.

“I was sent the press release and I was like, ‘Oh, wow!’ That’s quite impressive how they’ve won with every iteration of the car,” Eastwood said.

“In GTE-Pro, you always knew the yellow cars would be in the hunt. The Z06 is so fast, so if we can get there, we can be in the hunt.”

Jamie Klein is Sportscar365's Asian editor. Japan-based Klein, who previously worked for Motorsport Network on the Motorsport.cоm and Autosport titles, covers the FIA World Endurance Championship and SUPER GT, among other series.

Click to comment

More in 24H Le Mans