Team Corvette C6.Rs - Parting Shots

Close Calls And Controversy Mark The ALMS Finale At Laguna

Dr. Greg P. Johnson Mar 22, 2010 0 Comment(s)
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Meanwhile, back on the track, the No. 3 car was playing catch-up to the class-leading Porsche. Johnny O'Connell kept the pressure on and turned in some very competitive laps. He was able to reduce the Porsche lead to just 6 seconds as he came in for the last pit service of the race. Magnussen was subbed for O'Connell, and the car received fuel and fresh tires. However, the driver's window net did not seat into place, and the crew had to reopen the door to resolve the problem. That took way too much time, and Magnussen returned to the track 14 seconds down to the Porsche with about 10 laps to go-a seemingly insurmountable gap.

But the Dane is known for his speed, and he did not disappoint. He quickly hacked down the Porsche's lead and took up position on the tail of the German entry, hounding him all over the track. Magnussen was desperate to get by, but Jorge Bergmeister in the No. 45 Flying Lizard car made his vehicle as wide as possible, taking driving lines dictated purely by defense. Magnussen put an outside passing move on the Porsche going into the hairpin lefthand Turn 2, but he couldn't make it stick, as Bergmeister re-passed underneath and forced the Corvette into the dirt.

Magnussen continued to shadow the Porsche, darting left and right in an attempt to pull up alongside. With two laps to go, he took a head of speed up the start/finish hill and down into Turn 1, running left of the Porsche and cutting into the pit-out lane that runs parallel to the racing track surface. This lane is marked with a double white line delineating it from the track, and the course marshals regard those white lines as "the wall"-they do not allow competitors across them. Magnussen completed the pass before Turn 2 and quickly moved out ahead of the Porsche, putting a fair distance between the two in just 3/4 of a lap.

IMSA officials ruled the Corvette's pass into Turn 2 illegal and demanded that Magnussen give back the first-place position to Bergmeister. The trade was performed as they crossed the start/finish with just one lap to go, and it seemed impossible that Magnussen could run down the Porsche again in the allotted time. The pair circulated the Monterey track nose to tail, with Magnussen trying everything he could to get a passing opportunity. As they rounded Turn 11, heading to the finish line, the Corvette was just not close enough to make a successful run at the Porsche. However, the race-leading prototype of Gil de Ferran was on its last lap and just behind the Corvette/Porsche pairing. De Ferran took the checkered flag to end the race with the two GT2 combatants still ahead of him. This meant that Magnussen would get one more lap to make his move, and Bergmeister would have to play defense for another 11/2 minutes. The two ran a heated exchange, with both pushing their cars to the limit.

It was going to come down to the last corner. Magnussen was about 50 yards behind Bergmeister entering the very tight lefthand Turn 11. It seemed as though the Corvette wouldn't be able to make up the distance and drag-race the Porsche to the finish, unless Magnussen could somehow make up ground by late-braking, carrying momentum through the corner, and then getting the C6.R rotated and back on the gas without incident. With the slower car and little left in his tires, Bergmeister felt he wasn't going to be able to hold off the Corvette. In mid-corner he brake-checked Magnussen and forced him onto the brakes-and also into the rear of the Porsche. Bergmeister's aim was to upset the Corvette's entry and exit of the corner, and possibly even to make Magnussen lose control.

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