Watch the Corvette Team’s Le Mans Dream End With a Gentleman Racer’s Crash
For Corvette, the last year of GTE Pro ended in heartbreak.
It was Sunday at around 10 a.m. local time; only five hours remained on the 2022 24 Hours of Le Mans. Alexander Sims in the No. 64 Corvette was charging to the front to fight Ferrari for the GTE Pro class lead. He wouldn't get the chance to, however, because Francois Perrodo, a gentleman driver in the LMP2 class, crashed into the Corvette while trying to make a pass of his own down the Mulsanne straight. This, in addition to the No. 63 Corvette's mechanical woes, would effectively end the American team's hopes for a successful race.
Adding insult to injury is the fact that Sims is one of the nicest men in motorsport; I've worked with him a lot in Formula E and you'd be pushed to find a more humble, genuinely kind person who lives his values. Sims is also known for being one of the most aggressive and quick drivers on track, just as hungry for the win as any other.
"Le Mans always holds surprises and unfortunately this was the biggest one I’ve had for a while," Sims said after the crash. "I sincerely believe it was a mistake [by Perrodo] and I hold no grudges. We are all human and it’s just part of the game we play. Just glad that I walked away without as much as a bruise. Amazing to share the car again with Tommy Milner and Nick Tandy, who did such a great job to help get us back into the race after an early setback with brakes."
In a show of sportsmanship, Perrodo visited the Corvette garage later to apologize for causing the contact between the two race cars, with Eurosport claiming that the gentleman racer was emotional about the entire ordeal. Per the report, the gesture was "warmly received" by the Corvette crew.
The Corvette Racing team, who fielded big talent this year with Sims, Milner, Tandy, Antonio Garcia, Jordan Taylor, and Nicky Catsburg behind the wheel, had to go home empty-handed after a long stint in Europe. It's not like Corvette had been getting creamed by other GT manufacturers, but for a car built specifically for the convoluted Le Mans regs, the Porsches and Ferraris had the better of the Chevys. That said, it was rad to see the yellow cars thundering through the night at Le Mans in the lead—I mean, who doesn't love it when some hotshot Americans take on the solemn Europeans on hallowed home turf?
That's Le Mans for you; it takes months to set up, weeks to run the event, and it's over in the blink of an eye. It's a lot like the Le Mans GTE Pro class, which enjoyed its last hoorah on Sunday, too. Last week, during the practice days for Le Mans, the organizing body of the World Endurance Championship and FIA, announced that this was the swansong for GTE Pro. The class will be combined with the amateur category to create one set of regulations for all future GT cars from the end of this year's WEC season in November.
It might be sensible, really. There'd been a massively dwindling interest in manufacturers joining the factory GT program, and spec LMP2 prototypes show you don't need to be running a brand logo to be attracting big names and attention. So perhaps Le Mans is just like that, but it's a shame not to have had the fight that had been brewing all night to the final laps.
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