Chevrolet Corvettes fastest in Wednesday practice at Sebring

New drivers, tires and gearbox off to a strong start in preparation for Saturday

SEBRING, Fla. The General Motors Chevrolet Corvette Racing team posted the fastest times in the GTS class during Wednesday's practice sessions before the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring. The championship-winning two-car team claimed the top two spots in both hour-long practice sessions on the 3.7-mile Florida circuit. Both Corvette C5-Rs posted lap times in each session faster than Oliver Gavin's 2003 pole position time of 1:59:024.

"We are taking a conservative approach and I'm happy with the way practice went today," said Doug Fehan, GM's program manager for Corvette Racing. "We're lapping a little bit faster than we did in qualifying last year but that is to be expected given the year of development and new technology on the car. The new drivers are getting a good amount of track time in the cars but we are also pleased to see them gelling with the team as a whole."

The Corvette Racing team starts off the 2004 season of the American Le Mans Series with a third straight GTS championship trophy in its case. New drivers Olivier Beretta, Jan Magnussen and Max Papis said they are looking forward to continuing a winning tradition for the Corvette C5-R.

"It was a good practice session and I'm very happy to be driving the Corvette," said Beretta, driver of the #4 Corvette C5-R along with Oliver Gavin and Jan Magnussen. "We have a lot of setup changes to work through but we are all happy with where the car is as of right now. Right now we are working on braking and the ride height. I am very happy to be with this team and we are all working to do our best this weekend."

Max Papis, driver of the #3 Corvette C5-R along with Ron Fellows and Johnny O'Connell, said that he believes the Corvette has more speed left in it for the race on Saturday.

"We are working on getting a better setup and it's been better each time," said Papis. "Today we are trying to get a very comfortable race car and I am very impressed with the way the team has worked. Up until this point I have only driven the C5-R by myself on the track during testing so this was a very different experience. I drove pretty conservatively so I believe the car has some additional speed in it and we are excited for this historic race."

The Corvette Racing team will qualify for the 12 Hours of Sebring on Thursday afternoon.

Practice 1 Results (GTS Class)
Pos. Car Drivers Best Time
1 #04 Chevrolet Corvette C5-R Gavin/Beretta/Magnussen 1:58.524
2 #03 Chevrolet Corvette C5-R Fellows/O'Connell/Papis 1:58.826
3 #26 Ferrari 575 GTC Deletraz/Hezemans/Barde 2:02.471
4 #71 Dodge Viper GTS-R Weickardt/Belloc/Allen 2:03.064
5 #25 Ferrari 575 GTC Bosch/Sullivan/Biagi 2:05.562
X #63 Saleen S7R Borcheller/Mowlem/Brabham No time*
*Did not practice
Practice 2 Results (GTS Class)
Pos. Car Drivers Time
1 #04 Chevrolet Corvette C5-R Gavin/Beretta/Magnussen 1:58.248
2 #03 Chevrolet Corvette C5-R Fellows/O'Connell/Papis 1:58.260
3 #63 Saleen S7R Borcheller/Mowlem/Brabham 1:59.888
4 #26 Ferrari 575 GTC Deletraz/Hezemans/Barde 2:04.224
5 #25 Ferrari 575 GTC Bosch/Sullivan/Biagi 2:04.360
6 #71 Dodge Viper GTS-R Weickardt/Belloc/Allen 2:09.640