Corvette Racing’s closed its 20th season of competition Sunday with hard-fought effort in the FIA World Endurance Championship’s Six Hours of Shanghai as Tommy Milner, Oliver Gavin and the whole of the Corvette Racing program weathered… well, the weather.
The Milner/Gavin pairing drove their No. 64 Redline/Mobil 1 Chevrolet Corvette C7.R to a 10th-place finish in the GTE Pro category on a challenging day at the SAIC International Circuit. Not only was it the first time for the Corvette Racing at Shanghai, but a moderate and steady rain in the race’s opening half and at the end made the day even more daunting.
Nevertheless, the team minimized both its time in the pitlane and mistakes in front of an enthusiastic crowd and a considerable group of Chevrolet’s Chinese guests.
Milner drove the first three hours and 20 minutes, but he and the rest of the field didn’t see the green flag until 75 minutes into the race. The first 15 minutes were under full-course yellow followed by nearly an hour of stoppage due to water on the circuit. After 10 minutes of green followed by 10 minutes of yellow, the race stopped again for about 35 minutes. The final red flag was lifted more than two hours into the race.
Milner was one of the first GTE Pro runners to make an initial stop for fuel just shy of the two-and-a-half hour mark. Once the race got into a rhythm, he found himself inside the top-five as conditions began to improve.
He handed over to Gavin with a little more than two hours and 40 minutes to go. Conditions continued to improve somewhat, which swung momentum toward the GTE Pro competitors which had more experience with the track and tire feedback.
Gavin did an admirable job despite struggling with grip level in the Corvette – a situation multiplied by the worsening weather. He finished the race in conditions as challenging as at the start, fighting mist and darkness to bring the Redline Corvette home in one piece.
Corvette Racing will open its 2019 season and its third decade of competition with the Rolex 24 At Daytona on Jan. 26-27. It will mark the start of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.
OLIVER GAVIN, NO. 64 REDLINE/MOBIL 1 CHEVROLET CORVETTE C7.R: “I don’t think I’ve ever been in a race quite like that. I’ve done a lot of races in the rain and a lot of races in the dark, but I’ve done it at a track like this without external lights. It was a bit of a lottery. We worked hard throughout the race to find as strong a setup as possible and took quite a big swing there for the end. Fundamentally we were lacking the pace we needed in the rain, kind of like how we did in the dry. We need to understand why that was with this tire and package so we can come back stronger if we have another shot at this event.”
TOMMY MILNER, NO. 64 REDLINE/MOBIL 1 CHEVROLET CORVETTE C7.R: “This has probably been one of the most challenging races I’ve done in my career with the changing conditions, the safety car periods and red flags. The trouble is when we went out on hot tires, the visibility wasn’t good so the tires cooled off when we were behind the safety car. It was a frustrating situation for all of us – the series, the fans and the competitors. We come to every track to win races but it wasn’t in the cards today. It was a difficult race in many aspects. But it ultimately was a lot of fun to come here to China for the first time and race. This was a big challenge for all of us. We did a pretty good job all things considered. We can now look forward to going home and getting ready for Daytona.”