2004 VIC­TORY IN THE FACE OF AD­VER­SITY

Autosport (UK) - - LE MANS GUIDE -

JAN MAG­NUSSEN ’VETTE CV Years 2004-19 Le Mans starts 14 Class wins 4 GARY PRATT Se­nior vice-pres­i­dent Pratt & Miller So drama-filled was Corvette Rac­ing’s 2004 Le Mans that it ran out of spares. Its cars fin­ished 1-2 in sixth and eighth po­si­tions over­all, led home by Oliver Gavin, Jan Mag­nussen and Olivier Beretta, but it was a long haul for a team that had to raid parts from a show car on dis­play in the old ‘Vil­lage’ area at Le Mans. That makes it spe­cial for Pratt be­cause his op­er­a­tion builds the cars.

“There were so many in­ci­dents that year that we plain ran out of spares; I don’t know why it was, but it seemed like the pro­to­type drivers weren’t giv­ing our guys a lot of room,” he re­calls. “The show car was a dummy chas­sis, but it had real body­work. I sent my wife up there with some of the guys to go get parts off it.

“I re­mem­ber telling Olly not to crash when he got back in the car for the fi­nal time: we didn’t have any­thing left to re­pair it with.”

Mag­nussen re­mem­bers what he calls “a crazy race” with fond mem­o­ries too.

“That was my first win at Le Mans, which makes it spe­cial, but we also had to come back from some­thing like six laps down,” he re­calls. “We were lead­ing at mid­night when one of the Audis [the Veloqx en­try driven by Jamie Davies] put me in the wall out of the Ford Chi­cane. It was just past the pit en­try, so I had to do a full lap with a dam­aged car to get back to the pits.”

The Pro­drive Fer­rari squad that had van­quished the Corvettes in 2003 was out front be­fore hit­ting prob­lems. To­mas Enge brought the lead­ing 550 Maranello he shared with Alain Menu and Peter Kox into the pits in the 20th hour with wheel­bear­ing is­sues.

“That prob­lem cost them ex­actly the amount of time they were ahead,” ex­plains Mag­nussen. “We left the pits al­most at the same time with me 20 me­tres ahead.”

Corvette squad ran out of parts dur­ing “crazy race”

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