Corvette Racing’s next step in a planned return to the 24 Hours of Le Mans is a little side trip to Belgium and the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps.
Chevrolet veterans Antonio Garcia and Oliver Gavin will drive the No. 63 mid-engine Corvette C8.R race car in the Six Hours of Spa FIA World Endurance Championship GT race at Spa-Francorchamps on May 1.
According to the team, the tune-up race in Belgium will provide the Corvette Racing team “a bit of a refresher on specific rules and strategy methods that are unique to FIA WEC races. Pit stop operations and safety car procedures are among the biggest differences in IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and FIA WEC competitions.”
The 24 Hours of Le Mans is August 21-22. Corvette Racing has won eight times at Le Mans since 2001 and plans to enter two Corvette C8.Rs this year.
The race at Spa will be the first for Corvette Racing at Spa. It will also be the first time the mid-engined Corvette C8.R has raced outside the United States. Garcia and Gavin will pilot the one-car effort. The two have combined for an impressive 318 starts, 73 wins and nine championships for Corvette Racing, but they’ve never been paired as teammates.
A two-day test session will begin at Spa on Monday.
“It’s a nice idea to run this race at Spa to prepare for Le Mans,” Garcia said. “It’s not just as drivers but the engineers and the crew. Everyone will be up to speed on the WEC philosophy of racing. With all the rules and differences from IMSA, it’s a good warmup for Le Mans. It helps everyone clear their minds and be focused on being prepared. That’s the main thing.
“I’ve been in the Spa 24 Hours twice, and I just missed the podium my last time. I’m really looking forward to racing the Corvette at Spa. A proper racetrack deserves a proper car like the C8.R. I’m looking forward to going around there in a GTE car. I really enjoyed my time racing in a GT1 car several years ago, and I’m sure the Corvette will be even more pleasant this time around.”
Garcia won a class championship at Spa in 2001, while driving a Porsche 911 GT3-RS for RWS Motorsport. Gavin finished third as part of a Lamborghini Huracan GT3 effort for the British-based Barwell Motorsports team in 2016.
“When I was first spoken to about this opportunity to race at Spa, I had gone back to Antonio and he had asked if there was any chance that we could drive together,” Gavin said. “I’m really thrilled. We’ve become really great friends over the years. I’d been teammates with nearly everyone else but had never been teammates with Antonio! It’s just a really great thing to share the C8.R with him. It’s going to be special. We’ll want to push as hard as we can for as strong a result as possible.
“Spa is one of the greatest tracks where anyone could go race. It’ll be phenomenal to go there with the team and with such a great race car. It’ll certainly make all the hair stand up on the back of my neck as I’m driving down the pit lane for the first time and taking it all in. It’s going to be a very special weekend.”
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