The Circuit des 24 Heures du Mans has added another famous name to the pantheon already recognised for their exploits at La Sarthe, and given race fans a new section to conjure with by adding the Corvette Curves to the likes of Tertre Rouge, Mulsanne, Arnage and Indianapolis.

The Automobile Club de l'Ouest has recognised Corvette's rich racing heritage by naming the section of the circuit between Virage Du Pont and Maison Blanche in honour of the American marque, adding it to rivals such as Porsche and Ford on the roll.

"Success at Le Mans has played an important role in establishing the performance reputations of automobile manufacturers since the first 24 Hours of Le Mans was contested in 1923," said GM vice-president Ed Peper, "Chevrolet is truly honoured that the ACO has recognised Corvette's contribution to Le Mans' racing legacy by naming the Corvette Curves in perpetuity. It's a distinction that will forever link Corvette with this prestigious event."

This year's race marked Corvette's 48th anniversary at the 24 Hours and, after early visits involved legendary names such as 1960 class winners John Fitch and Bob Grossman, as well as Bob Bondurant, Jim Hall, Phil Hill and Cale Yarborough. The arrival of Chevrolet's factory Corvette Racing team in 2000 signalled the start of a new dynasty in the production-based GT1 category, with the squad taking five wins - including four one-two finishes - and 15 podiums since then.

Unfortunately, the two C6.Rs were unable to mark the honour with a sixth win, after being forced into second and third places by the best of the 'factory' Aston Martin DBR9s.

Johnny O'Connell, Jan Magnussen and Ron Fellows completed 344 laps in the #63 Compuware-backed Corvette, finishing on the same lap as the winning #009 DBR9 of David Brabham, Antonio Garcia and Darren Turner, while the #64 car driven by Oliver Gavin, Olivier Beretta and Max Papis finished third, three laps back.

The top two proved in step from the start, trading the lead and remaining separated by less than a lap for hour after hour. Even when rain arrived before sunrise - and returned as the race drew to a close - they stayed locked together in the duel.

The turning point came in the 17th hour, when the Corvette crew had to replace the #63 right front brake pads. Although the work was finished in less than 90 seconds, the Aston Martin gained valuable track position.

"Once again, we saw one of the epic battles in all of sportscar racing," Corvette Racing programme manager Doug Fehan noted, "When you can take two cars, run them for 24 hours, and have them finish just minutes apart, it's an incredible achievement for both teams.

"We had a brake issue with the #63 and overcame a problem with the alternator in the #64, and both cars finished on the podium. When we look at Corvette Racing's overall record and performance here at Le Mans, Chevrolet can be proud."

"This has probably been the best we've been able to race for the entire distance," team manager Gary Pratt added, "We had a good strategy to pick up a lap by running 14-lap fuel stints, but we got hung up by the safety car. In the night and in the rain, the Astons could pull away from us a little, and we couldn't seem to get it back. We started to catch up in the daylight, but then the rain returned.