|By Sam Tremayne||Friday, June 15th 2012, 15:37 GMT|
Corvette’s Richard Westbrook and Oliver Gavin believe the #51 AF Corse Ferrari is still a major threat in the GTE Pro class at this year’s Le Mans 24 Hours despite the car missing most of qualifying and having to start from the back of the field.
Gavin insists the Ferrari’s lack of running – the result of Giancarlo Fisichella’s Wednesday crash at the Porsche curves – will not count against it during the race, and fully expects it to be a contender for victory.
“You often sit there and try and study what other drivers and cars are doing, but the one car that hasn’t really been there in the whole of qualifying is the #51 AF Corse Ferrari,” he explained.
“It’s quite a blow for them what happened on Wednesday, having to go back and re-shell that car and effectively use a new chassis, but I think they’ll bounce back. If I had to put my money on any car going for the pole, that is the car I would have selected.
“I would still say they are the strongest in our class, and they’re going to be fighting extremely hard. We know that we are going to see that car at some point and go up against it.”
Westbrook, who alongside Gavin and Jan Magnussen was fighting with AF Corse for victory in last year’s race, said starting from the back would not prove a massive hindrance for the #51 machine.
“We won’t do anything different, and they won’t do anything, given their starting position,” he said. “OK they had the accident, but it was just a blip and I’m sure they will come back even stronger.”
Asked whether Corvette could match Ferrari, he said: “We are definitely not as fast over one lap as the Aston Martin and the Ferrari, but we are getting more and more confident with our race pace.
“Our confidence is definitely going up as the week has progressed though – we have certainly made more of a step than anyone else.”