Gavin And Beretta Clinch GT1 Championship With Petit Le Mans Victory
Oliver Gavin, Olivier Beretta, and Max Papis drove their No. 4 Compuware Corvette C6.R to a GT1 class victory in the 1,000-mile Petit Le Mans endurance race at Road Atlanta. It was the sixth class title at Petit Le Mans for Corvette Racing, and the win clinched a third consecutive GT1 drivers championship for Gavin and Beretta. The trio completed 364 laps, finishing 50 laps ahead of the runner-up, No. 27 Maserati MC 12, which retired after an accident. The No. 3 Compuware Corvette C6.R, driven by Jan Magnussen, Johnny O'Connell, and Ron Fellows, was sidelined in an accident after completing 15 laps.
The race was slowed by nine caution periods for accidents and off-course excursions. The first serious incident of the day occurred 20 minutes after the start when Magnussen was hit by Bryan Herta in the No. 26 LMP2 prototype in the high-speed downhill Esses. The impact sent Magnussen hard into the tire barrier at Turn 3, damaging the front end and left-front suspension. Magnussen got out of the car under his own power and was examined and released by the medical staff. Race officials subsequently penalized Herta for avoidable contact.
"I'm sore, but I'm OK," said Magnussen. "We had a great car, and I was feeling really good about the race. Then something like this happens. he went for a gap that wasn't there. When you're half an hour into a 10-hour race, it's too big a chance to take. As far as wrecks go, this one ranks pretty high. The fact that I can stand here now shows how strong the Corvette C6.R is. All the safety devices built into the car absolutely did their job."
"There is no question that all the safety systems, including the HANS device, performed admirably," said Corvette Racing program manager Doug Fehan. "The crush zone in the nose box and the way the framerail is designed to absorb an impact did exactly what they were supposed to do. When you build a car to that specification, the driver can avoid injury in a big hit like the one we had today.
"It was a huge disappointment for the No. 3 Corvette team because they had a great car for the race," Fehan said. "The upside is that the No. 4 Corvette ran flawlessly, the crew did eight perfect pit stops, and despite a great challenge from Maserati, Corvette once again prevailed."
Papis also had a close encounter of the prototype kind when he was hit by the No. 2 Audi LMP1 in the same corner where Magnussen was punted off course. "I was pretty upset when I saw Jan's accident and my semi-accident with the Audi," said Papis. "There was absolutely no room to pass in that corner. People were taking a lot of risks, braking very late, and diving under you at the last moment."
Beretta extended his record for ALMS career victories with his 36th win. He also became the first ALMS driver to win five championships: three with Corvette Racing and two with Oreca. "It was unfortunate today that we lost the No. 3 Corvette C6.R because we could have finished one and two," said Beretta. "I'm very happy about winning in the No. 4 Corvette. Our biggest problem was to stay out of trouble. The car was quick, but I have never seen such traffic. I didn't have one lap where I didn't overtake or was overtaken.
"It's a very special moment to win the championship," Beretta continued. "The crew and engineers have done a perfect job since the beginning of the year. Everybody is working in the same direction. I have a fantastic teammate-Oliver is super quick, very straightforward, very clever, and a good guy. We work well together; we don't even need to speak, we just understand each other from an expression or a gesture. We trust each other completely, and that is a very good thing."
"It's great to win the championship by winning here today," said Gavin, who tallied his 27th career ALMS victory. "This makes up somewhat for the huge disappointment of Le Mans. I'm delighted for everyone in the team, and, especially, for my engineer, Steve Cole, who's done a marvelous job all season."
Gavin And Beretta Cap Season With Ninth GT1 Victory At Laguna Seca
Corvette Racing's twin Compuware Corvette C6.Rs waged a fierce battle in the season finale of the American Le Mans Series at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. When the four-hour race was finished, Oliver Gavin and Olivier Beretta stood on the top step of the victory podium in the GT1 class for a record-tying ninth time in 2007. The "two Ollies" drove their No. 4 Compuware Corvette C6.R to a 30-second victory over the No. 3 Compuware Corvette C6.R of Johnny O'Connell and Jan Magnussen.
The pair completed 150 laps of the 2.238-mile road course and finished 11th overall to crown their third championship season together. Beretta extended his record for career ALMS victories with his 37th win, while Gavin notched his 28th career ALMS title. Corvette Racing won the GT1 manufacturer and team championships for the seventh consecutive year.
"I have to take my hat off to Olivier because he drove brilliantly," said Gavin. "We were knocked off the track twice today, and there was big pressure all the time from our sister car. The one thing that kept us in front was the pit stops. The guys did a fantastic job with every stop, and our engineer Steve Cole and Corvette Racing gave us a mighty car. This was the best car we've had at Laguna Seca, and a victory was a fitting way to finish the season."
The lead in the GT1 division changed hands three times in the four-hour race. Magnussen started on the pole and led until the first round of pit stops at 56 minutes into the race. Gavin took the lead over O'Connell at the first driver change, but surrendered the point after contact with a GT2 Ferrari in the Andretti Hairpin shortly after two hours of racing. The No. 4 car regained the lead on the second round of pit stops and driver changes at the 2:16 mark. Beretta and Magnussen then drove the last hour and 45 minutes, stopping for a splash of fuel and tires at 20 minutes before the checkered flag.
The GT1 race was literally won in the pits. "We were a little down after finishing second in the pit stop competition, but we pulled together," said Ray Gongla, crewchief for the No. 4 Corvette. "The guys had to do three flawless pit stops in a row, and they did it." Magnussen mounted a furious charge from lap 99 to lap 109, cutting Beretta's lead to 1.74 seconds at one point.
"It's been a great season with Corvette Racing," said Magnussen after his first full year with the team. "To be with this team and to see all the Corvette fans, I feel like it's the best time of my life right now. I hope somebody comes out and races with us next year to make it even better."
Corvette Racing program manager Doug Fehan reflected on the results: "I think the final race of the season was the crowning touch to what we did all year-perfect races, no mistakes, and dedicating ourselves to getting better every time. It's a great ending to a great season."
The Monterey Sports Car Championships marked the conclusion of Laguna Seca's 50th anniversary celebration and a milestone for Corvette Racing.
"Fifty years ago, Zora Arkus-Duntov, the godfather of Corvette Racing, conceived the Corvette SS race car to put Corvette squarely in the arena of international endurance racing," said Chevrolet general manager Ed Peper. "This year marks the 50th anniversary of both the Corvette SS and of the Laguna Seca circuit. As we look back on the results today at this great track and reflect on Corvette Racing's record of success over the years, it's clear that the Corvette C6.R has realized Zora's dream.
"Corvette Racing has again set the standard for engineering excellence, preparation, and commitment in the American Le Mans Series," Peper noted. "The team came to race at every event, and ran with all of the passion and skill that have made Corvette Racing America's premier production sports car racing team. The drivers, mechanics, engineers, support personnel, and team managers of Corvette Racing have made everyone at Chevrolet proud, and I congratulate every one of them on a job well done."
Zip Products Corvette Trivia Challenge
This is the sixth and final installment of the new Corvette Fever/Zip Products Corvette Trivia Challenge. The Zip Products Corvette Trivia Challenge question will be featured in this issue of Corvette Fever and at www.corvettefever.com. You will be able to answer via e-mail or regular mail. The online poll will start at 12:01 a.m. on 12-18-07, and expire at 11:59 p.m. on 1-14-08. Those who answer correctly will be part of a drawing for a $200 gift certificate from Zip Products. The winner of the contest will also be featured in a future issue of Corvette Fever. Enter the Zip Products Corvette Trivia Challenge by answering the question and filling out the required information online, or by sending the answer on a 3x5 card with your name, address, phone number, and date of birth. See Rules on page 87.
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This month's Zip Products Corvette Trivia Challenge question is:
John Greenwood was a GT class winner at Sebring in 1970. What celebrity was his co-driver?
* Jay Leno
* Robert Redford
* Steve McQueen
* Dick Smothers
* James Garner