ALMS Laguna Seca Race - Few Surprises

The 2007 ALMS Season Winds Down At Laguna Seca

Dr. Greg Johnson Apr 1, 2008 0 Comment(s)
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Early in the race, the Penske Porsche, driven by an aggressive Sascha Maassen, clipped Magnussen, damaging the body of the No. 3 Corvette. Then, with about an hour-and-a-half to go, Gavin was hit in the rear by the Kron Racing Ferrari, allowing No. 3 to slide past for the class lead. Later on, the No. 4 C6.R was able to reestablish first position by pipping its teammate in the pits.

In the end, the No. 4 team found its groove at Laguna, both on the track and in the pits, and motored away to take the GT1 category. Gavin and Beretta recorded their ninth class victory of the year and their third drivers championship together behind the wheel of a C6.R. The race win marked Beretta's 37th ALMS victory and Gavin's 28th.

Despite the lack of class competition, Corvette Racing did a yeoman job of keeping the Chevy faithful engaged throughout the '07 ALMS season. The two Velocity Yellow C6.Rs pushed each other to another GT1 manufacturers championship, extending their winning streak to seven years in a row. Is it any wonder the other marques continue to cower in the shadows?

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Just Deserts
The season-ending awards banquet was held at Laguna Seca the day after the race. Taking home top honors for Corvette were:

* GM/Chevrolet, GT1 Manufacturers Championship
* Olivier Beretta and Oliver Gavin, GT1 Drivers Championship
* Ray Gongla, GT1 Crew Chief of the Year
* Ron Fellows, Most Popular Driver of the Year

In addition to Fellows' Most Popular Driver Award, Don Panoz presented Ron and his wife, Lynda, with a specially commissioned Corvette painting in recognition of the couple's efforts at this year's Le Petit Elegance charity fundraiser.

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ZR-1 Breaks Cover at Laguna
A prototype version of the much-anticipated Corvette ZR-1 sneaked out into the open for a few moments of public exposure at Laguna Seca. The unannounced appearance gave Corvette fans their first look at the upcoming supercar.

Just before the final practice on Friday afternoon, the ZR-1 was rolled out of the Corvette Racing transporter enveloped in a full-car cover. The plan was to take the car on a one-lap tour of the track and then spirit it back into hiding. As the cover was removed, Corvette Racing driver Johnny O'Connell slipped behind the wheel, accompanied by a GM official sporting a video camera. The ZR-1 was driven to the pre-grid area and then out onto the track to sit in Turn 11, just before the front straight. Tipped off that this was the plan, we waited for Corvette's best-kept secret to make its debut.

The pictures you see here were taken as O'Connell was awaiting approval for his one-lap strike mission. Note the full-width rear spoiler and side vents, all covered in black tape. The hood, meanwhile, was covered with a black mat that was affixed with Velcro strips on either side. Removing the hood cover revealed a mass of tape that hid a see-through window exhibiting the supercharger. The wheels were obviously a one-off ZR-1 design, and the brake calipers were painted blue. Everything else on the car's body looked to be standard-issue Z06, albeit with more bulge to the wheel wells and slightly sculpted front and rear valances.

The ZR-1 eventually made its lap of the race course, a telltale whine giving evidence of its supercharged LS9 engine. O'Connell was obviously giving the car all it could take: At the end of his drive, he headed into the pits with both front brakes on fire. The C6.R ace jumped out of the car as the race team scrambled to respond to the overcooked binders. Soon after, the GM handler climbed into the ZR-1's driver seat and sped away, never to be seen again.

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