Corvette racing has entered a new chapter in the annals of GM motorsports history with the introduction of its GT2 competition Corvette C6R. This most recent edition of the C6.R was introduced at the ALMS Mid Ohio event, where the veteran team lobbed an opening salvo at the competition by scoring a Second Place finish in class. Two weeks later at Elkhart Lake, the first two class positions went to the BMW team in a wave-by pass under yellow that left the rest of the field battling for the final position on the podium. Johnny O'Connell, piloting Corvette Racing's No. 3 car, made a late-race pass to take a hard-fought Third in class.
With these early successes under its belt, the team was looking forward to another successful outing in the next race, held at Mosport in Canada. Saturday morning's practice session was beset by occasional rain and shrouded in a descending fog that completely obscured portions of the track. The afternoon brought another hour-long practice followed by a two-minute qualifying round. The BMWs picked up where they left off at Elkhart and took the first two positions on the starting grid. A Porsche GT3 claimed third, while Oliver Gavin was fourth in the No. 4 C6.R, and Johnny O'Connell took fifth in No. 3.
The weekend brought near-constant rain interspersed with bouts of sunshine early on, leaving competitors without any clear idea of how conditions would develop. The Corvette team usually employs a very effective satellite-based system to monitor the threat of precipitation. But the system was not effective in this part of Canada, so the engineers were essentially flying blind when it came to the weather. The team would be forced to start the race prepared for any climatic scenario-and adapt as best it could along the way.
The pre-grid ceremonies celebrating Johnny O'Connell's record 100th ALMS start featured a bagpipe marching band, underscoring the multinational makeup of the field. The green flag fell right on time and the prototypes sped away, leaving the GT2 competitors to sort out who would dominate the 2 hour, 45-minute event. Mosport's beautiful 2.3-mile circuit features minimal fencing, so it's an excellent place to set up camp, start a roaring fire, and settle in for an entertaining weekend of racing.
The BMWs showed great speed in qualifying but fell off the pace shortly after the start. Ollie Gavin soon took over the class lead, with Johnny O'Connell right behind. The Risi Competizione Ferrari 430s have always done well at Mosport (in fact, the team had never lost there prior to 2009), and they weren't about to let the "new kids on the block" take control. Jamie Melo quickly split the two Corvettes, relegating O'Connell to third. This lead group was closely followed by Patrick Long in one of the Flying Lizard GT2 Porsches, but the German cars didn't appear to be a serious threat in class.
With the Ferrari pushing, and O'Connell intent on regaining second, Gavin certainly had his hands-and mirrors-full. The first pit stop came under yellow toward the end of the first hour, when the lead group ducked into pit lane together to change drivers. Jan Magnussen subbed for O'Connell, and Olivier Beretta jumped in for Gavin.