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Corvette Racing Celebrates Chevrolet's 100th Anniversary with Victory at Le Mans

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Chevrolet celebrates its 100th anniversary and the 10th anniversary of the team's first Le Mans victory in 2001.
Chevrolet celebrates its 100th anniversary and the 10th anniversary of the team's first Le Mans victory in 2001.
"Drama, excitement, all the way to the end" is how Radio Le Mans described the 79th running of the legendary 24 Hours of Le Mans race in France. For Pratt and Miller/Corvette Racing, their victory in the 2011 endurance contest comes as Chevrolet celebrates its 100th anniversary and the 10th anniversary of the team's first Le Mans victory in 2001. It was the sixth Le Mans title for Beretta, the third for Garcia, and the first for Milner.
The Compuware Corvette C6.R No. 73, driven by Olivier Beretta, Tommy Milner and Antonio Garcia won the GTE class, completing 314 laps and finishing two minutes and 29 seconds ahead of the runner-up Ferrari.
The Compuware Corvette C6.R No. 73, driven by Olivier Beretta, Tommy Milner and Antonio Garcia won the GTE class, completing 314 laps and finishing two minutes and 29 seconds ahead of the runner-up Ferrari.


The K&N sponsored No. 73 Compuware Corvette C6.R driven by, Olivier Beretta, Tommy Milner and Antonio Garcia, unremittingly pursued the class-leading No. 51 Ferrari 458 Italia, cutting their margin by seconds with every lap. American driver, Tommy Milner, overtook Ferrari driver, Toni Vilander, with two hours and 10 minutes to go, and steadily increased his lead as he completed his double stint.

Garcia next took over the yellow and black car for the last hour and the final run to the checkered. The winning Corvette completed 314 laps and finished two minutes and 29 seconds ahead of the runner-up Ferrari. The victory was the seventh class win at Le Mans for Corvette Racing, and it's first in the GTE Pro category.
The 2011 endurance contest victory was the seventh class win at Le Mans for Corvette Racing, and it's first in the GTE Pro category.
The 2011 endurance contest victory was the seventh class win at Le Mans for Corvette Racing, and it's first in the GTE Pro category.


"In the final minutes, everything comes into your mind," Garcia said. "It went perfectly, a real easy last stint compared to all the ones before it. This was the first time I drove a car at the finish at Le Mans, and it was very special. There is no better time to win this race than in the centennial year for Chevrolet. Now I'm already thinking about next year."

"This is my first time at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, but I've watched Corvettes race here my whole life," said Mark Reuss, President GM North America. "To come here for the first time on the 100th anniversary of Chevrolet, and to have another Corvette victory is beyond words."

As advertised, the race was clearly filled with drama and excitement, as the No. 74 K&N sponsored Corvette C6.R of, Oliver Gavin, Jan Magnussen and Richard Westbrook, suffered a stunning dose of misfortune. After leading for nearly 16 hours, the car was extensively damaged in a crash in the 17th hour. Although Magnussen was uninjured in the high-speed shove, the car was retired on the spot.

The No. 73 Corvette C6.R had been running in the top five, and the No. 74's bad luck moved it to second in the GTE standings. More than a lap behind the No. 51 Ferrari 458 Italia at the time of the accident, the No. 73 Corvette drivers chased down the class leader. As rain began to fall in the 20th hour, Garcia was gaining 1.5 seconds per lap. Milner took over at the 21st hour and continued to reel in the Ferrari, gaining as much as six seconds per lap during his stint. Milner made the pass for the lead on the Mulsanne Straight on lap 283.

"That was the hardest drive of my life," said the 25-year-old Milner. "It would have been a lot easier if it hadn't been sprinkling, raining, not raining, and then wet - all that plus the pressure of the situation. I'd been super comfortable in the car all day long, but I was certainly not comfortable then. I was just trying to drive the car to what the track would allow. Every lap it changed, every corner it changed."

Beretta became ill after driving behind the safety car during an extended caution period, and drove a limited time in the second half of the race.

"Today was not my sixth win, but a win for the team, Tommy, Antonio, and all of the engineers and crew who did a wonderful job," Beretta said. "I was sick in the middle of the night from following the pace car, but I recovered. I'm very happy for the entire team."

"If I were to write a script to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Chevrolet and the 10th anniversary of Corvette Racing's first win at Le Mans, this would undoubtedly be it," said Corvette Racing program manager Doug Fehan. "Louis Chevrolet was himself a racer, and his motto, 'Never give up!' is a philosophy we embraced from our first visit here. I think the result today embodied the spirit of Chevrolet's co-founder and of that iconic phrase."

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