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 3/2/24 4:16pm
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Joined: 11/1/2010
Posts: 883

CORVETTE RACING AT QATAR: Lessons Learned in WEC Opener

LUSAIL, Qatar (March 2, 2024) – TF Sport left the season-opening event for the FIA World Endurance Championship with both its Chevrolet Corvette Z06 GT3.Rs combining to score points in what will be an extremely tough and deep LMGT3 class throughout the season.

The trio of Corvette factory driver Daniel Juncadella plus teammates Sébastien Baud and Hiroshi Koizumi teamed to finish 10th at the close of the Qatar Airways Qatar 1812 Km in the No. 82 Corvette Z06 GT3.R. It was the first race for TF Sport under the Corvette Racing banner, the first race for the trio and the first start as WEC full-season competitors for each of the three drivers. They earned two championship points for their efforts.

Koizumi began the race from 11th – after just missing Friday’s Hyperpole session – and had the worst of the traffic among all the TF Sport drivers. He handed over to Baud after a little more than 90 minutes of running. The youngest of the TF Sport driver lineup – at 23 years of age – was immediately on pace with laps that rivaled his more experienced factory teammates.

Juncadella had his first laps in WEC competition after three-and-a-half hours and ran 10th to stay in a points-paying position before the driver rotation began cycling through again into dusk. Koizumi drove two stints with his best pace of the race to keep the No. 82 in the points before his drive time was complete.

Both Baud and Juncadella recorded solid stints during intense competition in the middle of the 18-car field. That included the pole-sitting No. 81 Corvette of Tom Van Rompuy, Rui Andrade and factory driver Charlie Eastwood, which retired with an electrical issue after 177 laps. 

Van Rompuy led from pole position in the No. 81 Corvette Z06 GT3.R for the first 20 minutes before settling in for a solid double-stint to open the race. Each lap provided new data and more experience for the TF Sport team as it continued to learn about the Corvette in race conditions.

Teammate Rui Andrade remained in the top-10 just ahead of the 2.5-hour mark when he spun harmlessly but lost time to the pack of GT3 cars we was pursuing. Shortly thereafter, the TF Sport team got its first in-race experience of troubleshooting the Corvette when it had to replace the electronic shifter and lost seven laps in the process.

The Corvette ran well when it returned to the track in the hands of Eastwood before the team discovered an issue with an electrical harness, which ended up being a terminal issue. The trio still left Qatar with one championship point due to Van Rompuy’s pole run Friday.

The next race for TF Sport in the FIA World Endurance Championship is the Six Hours of Imola on Sunday, April 21. The team will travel to the Italian circuit for testing next week as development of the Corvette Z06 GT3.R continues.

DANI JUNCADELLA, NO. 82 CHEVROLET CORVETTE Z06 GT3.R: “I’m not entirely disappointed about the weekend. When we look back, there were zero issues, no reliability issues and no setbacks. We ran a very smooth program. Unfortunately we need to look into improving a little bit the balance for Hiroshi. He struggled in the beginning, and that made our race difficult. There were penalties and some drive-throughs… little things that we need to avoid in the future, but I’m sure we can. All in all it’s a positive start for TF Sport with the Corvette Z06 GT3.R. There is a long way to go in this championship.”

CHARLIE EASTWOOD, NO. 81 CHEVROLET CORVETTE Z06 GT3.R: "After the dream start to our WEC campaign with Tom getting pole in the brand new Corvette Z06 GT3.R, unfortunately today didn't go as planned. We had a great start to the race. Unfortunately after ending up a few laps down, we thought it best – as we're still new to this brand new car – to make a test out of the race itself. As we came in for a stop after my first stint, we realized that we had a problem with an electrical harness and had to retire the car. It was such a high yesterday, but unfortunately it wasn't the result we hoped for today. Imola is just around the corner, and I know we will come back strong."

Ryan Smith
Judy Kouba Dominick

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