Belfast racer Charlie Eastwood is looking forward to run at Le Mans

Eastwood hopes to recreate his historic win at Le Mans in 2020 this weekend at the iconic track

A yellow Corvette Racing team car with he number 81 on it driving on a track
Corvette Racing team driven by Belfast's Charlie Eastwood alongside Tom Van Rompuy, Rui Andrade at the FIA World Endurance Championship Spa-Francorchamps leg in Belgium in May. PICTURE: Richard Prince/Chevrolet Photo. (Richard Prince, Prince/

AFTER a bumpy start to life at Corvette Racing, new recruit Charlie Eastwood is vying for a “proper result” at the longest and toughest event on the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) calendar this weekend.

Mechanical and electrical-related issues with the number 81 Corvette ZO6 GT3.R have meant that Eastwood and team-mates Tom Van Rompuy and Rui Andrade have banked seven points from the first three races, one of which was for securing pole position at the season opener, Qatar 1812Km.

In the period between May’s 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps and Le Mans, TF Sport – the British team that runs the car Eastwood shares – has completed a test at Silverstone to understand its potential in low-downforce configuration better.

At the same time across the Atlantic Ocean in America, drivers from Corvette’s IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship have been exploring set-up options.

“Le Mans is the big one. It is a very important race for us and obviously it is a big race for everyone,” admitted Eastwood.

He made history at the iconic French meeting in September 2020 when he became the first Northern Irish winner in 10 years.

“It is the first time the Z06 GT3.R is going to hit the streets of Le Mans. The good thing is, Rui and Tom have been to Le Mans, and I have been here many times myself, so hopefully we will be strong from the start, which should give us more time to get an understanding of what this car needs.

“It is the first time we have had the car at a low-downforce track with long straights, so the guys at Corvette Racing have run a lot of simulations and been in the Driver in the Loop simulator to get some good baseline setups ready for us. That will play a big part in helping us get up to speed.”

With the LMGT3 teams’ and drivers’ titles looking like a pipedream, getting the new Z06 GT3.R to the winners’ enclosure come Sunday afternoon will be the next best thing for Eastwood, who is making his fifth visit to Circuit de la Sarthe with Tom Ferrier’s TF Sport

“I have to say that I am looking forward to it,” continued the Belfast man.

A yellow Corvette Racing team car with he number 81 on it driving on a track
Charlie Eastwood is looking forward to Le Mans 2024 after becoming the first NI man t win the race in 10 years in 2020. PICTURE: Richard Prince/Chevrolet Photo (Richard Prince

“For the full crew, we need a proper result at Le Mans. We have had some misfortune at the last couple of races, so we are all as determined as ever to make no mistakes and make sure we are there at the end of the 24 Hours.”

The ninety-second running of the endurance classic is the blue riband fixture of the WEC and has attracted 23 hypercar entries, 16 LMP2 cars, and a further 23 LMGT3 machines.

Toyota, Porsche, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Alpine, Audi, Peugeot and Ford are just some of the makes represented.

Waved away by ex-France international and Real Madrid player Zinedine Zidane, the organising Automobile Club de l’Ouest has confirmed a 3pm Saturday start time for the 24 Hours of Le Mans.