2008 Petit Le Mans - Race For The Green

The C6.Rs Surmount A Fresh "Challenge" At Road Atlanta

Dr. Greg P. Johnson Apr 1, 2009 0 Comment(s)
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The green flag did finally drop, prompting still more mayhem on the course. Ryan Lewis stalled his Lola/Judd prototype at the entrance to Turn 6, bringing out a full-course caution just three minutes into the race. Next, Scott Sharp put his Acura-powered proto hard into the wall, prompting another yellow flag just 17 minutes after the restart. The event would go on to experience no fewer than 11 full-course cautions during its 1,000-mile duration, most of which were spread throughout the first half of the race.

Corvette Racing managed its two entries with characteristic poise. It was obvious that the No. 4 team was pushing hard, with the No. 3 crew doing everything it could to stay ahead in its sibling rivalry. The first two pit stops went according to plan, but during the third pit stop, Max Papis managed to slide behind the controls of No. 4 and get out ahead of freshly installed No. 3 pilot Ron Fellows. When the next pit stop came, the Danny Binks-helmed No. 3 crew executed a flawless stop, allowing its C6.R to retake the lead.

At around six hours into the race, Oliver Gavin reported that the No. 4 car had lost power and he was coming in for repairs. Mike West's crew quickly removed the hood and determined that the engine's throttle linkage had come loose. Ron Helzer, the team's Katech support expert, immediately got to work on a fix. Unfortunately, the rest of the field was able to complete around five laps before the crew could get the C6.R back onto the track. This placed the No. 4 car at a serious disadvantage, one it would not be able to overcome. The race ended with Jan Magnussen piloting No. 3 to the GT1 win over teammate Gavin.

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Corvette Racing also became the first recipient of the GT Class Green Challenge trophy, barely nudging out the GT2 Aston. With more "green" cars on the road than any other manufacturer, General Motors is keen to demonstrate its commitment to alternative energy sources. Capturing the first Green Challenge trophy is just another indication of that commitment. As Corvette Racing's Doug Fehan put it, "If we can compete successfully on the world stage in racing with cellulosic E85, Mom can certainly use it in her SUV taking the kids to school, and Dad can put it in his truck going to work."

In a miraculous turnaround, the overall win was taken by Alan McNish in his Audi R10. After wadding up the prototype before the start of the race, McNish scythed his way through the field to end up in a three-way battle with Audi teammate Marco Werner and Peugeot driver Christian Klien. The race ended with the Audis in First and Third; Klien took Second in the Peugeot.

Despite the multiple crash delays, the record crowd was treated to a thrilling race. Next year's Petit promises to be even more exciting, as Corvette Racing will be running in the hotly contested GT2 category. It should be a blast.

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