GM Racing

Manufacturers, Drivers and Team Championships Are on the Line for Corvette Racing in ALMS Season Finale

Chevrolet Team Aims for Sixth Straight GT1 Manufacturers' Title at Laguna Seca

MONTEREY, Calif. - After nine hard-fought races that spanned the length and breadth of North America, it all comes down to this: four intense hours at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca that will decide the American Le Mans Series GT1 manufacturers, team and drivers championships.

The Monterey Sports Car Championships will pit America's premier sports car team against the best of Great Britain. Going into the decisive 10th round of the ALMS road racing series, Corvette Racing leads Aston Martin Racing in the points standings in every category. But with 23 championship points on the line and the imperative to complete at least 70 percent of the race distance to earn points, the titles hang in the balance.

"Winning a sixth straight GT1 manufacturers championship for Chevrolet is our primary focus," said Corvette Racing program manager Doug Fehan. "That means finishing first or second."

"Last year's race at Laguna Seca was a four-hour battle, and I fully expect a repeat of what we've seen there in the past," Fehan continued. "We'll go into this race the same way we've attacked every other race this year - doing our homework, running our track simulations, and engineering the best possible setup before we unload the Corvette C6.R race cars."

The sanctioning body has announced the seventh "performance balancing" adjustment of the season for Laguna Seca, and consequently the Corvette C6.Rs and the Aston Martin DBR9s will both race in compliance with the ACO weight regulations at 1150 kg (2535 pounds). However, the Corvettes are still handicapped with a 1.1-mm smaller engine restrictor than specified by the ACO regulations, a penalty of approximately 35 horsepower.

Corvette Racing's reigning GT1 co-champions Oliver Gavin and Olivier Beretta have an 11-point advantage over Aston Martin's Tomas Enge in the drivers' standings. That's an insurmountable margin - providing the pair completes the required 70 percent of the overall winner's total laps.

"The idea is to go there and win the race," said Gavin. "We don't want to just drive around for fourth place; we want to be going for the best result we possibly can. When you drive a race car at anything less than on the limit, you tend to make mistakes. I'm very wary of that. It's important to stay focused on winning the manufacturers championship for Chevrolet, and in doing that Olivier and I can then clinch the drivers championship."

"Winning the GT1 championship for the second year in a row would mean a lot because we're up against stiff competition from Aston Martin and from our own teammates," Gavin noted. "The championship would be even more satisfying than last year because it's been harder fought. Every one of the cars has been in a potential winning position in every round. Winning four ALMS races set up our championship run - and when Olivier and I couldn't win, we've learned to look at the big picture instead of getting caught up in any single event."

Although Fellows and O'Connell are no longer in contention for this year's GT1 crown, their No. 3 Compuware Corvette C6.R will certainly figure in the championship fight.

"The championship race is so tight that we are definitely going to have to bring our A game," said O'Connell. "Ron and I have had some bad luck this year that hurt us in the drivers championship, but now we're only thinking about the manufacturers' title. There's no reason for us to finish second; we want to win."

That task will be more difficult because of new pavement and reconfigured turns at the central California road course - variables that could play to Corvette Racing's strengths.

"Like the races at new ALMS venues in Houston and Salt Lake City, this will be a race where engineering resources are key," said GM Racing road racing group manager Steve Wesoloski. "While we have years of experience at Laguna Seca, it's a completely new surface this year and we're not sure what the level of grip is going to be. That puts a premium on prerace preparation, and we expect to be in good shape for the season-ending event."

Just the Facts

  • The crew of the No. 3 Compuware Corvette C6.R will defend their Klein Tools Pit Crew Challenge championship in the final round of the season-long competition at Laguna Seca at 11:30 a.m. PDT on Friday, Oct. 20. The Dan Binks-led Corvette team will face crews from Petersen/White Lightning Racing, BMW Team PTG and Aston Martin Racing in the championship round of the $100,000 competition.
  • A third-place finish by Oliver Gavin and Olivier Beretta in Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta on Sept. 30 gave the pair an 11-point lead (157-146) over Aston Martin driver Tomas Enge in the drivers championship with one race remaining.
  • Chevrolet and Corvette Racing lead Aston Martin Racing by 7 points (170-163) in the 2006 GT1 manufacturers and team championships. Chevrolet has won the GT1 title five consecutive years.
  • Corvette Racing has two consecutive GT1 class wins at Laguna Seca with two different lineups: Ron Fellows and Johnny O'Connell won in 2004, and Oliver Gavin and Olivier Beretta won in 2005.
  • Beretta also won at Laguna Seca in 1999 and 2000 driving a Dodge Viper GTS-R with Karl Wendlinger.
  • Gavin holds the record for the fastest GT1 race lap at Laguna Seca at 1:21.108 (99.334 mph), a mark he set in October 2005.

The Monterey Sports Car Championships, the season finale of the 10-race American Le Mans Series, is scheduled to start at 2:45 p.m. PDT (5:45 p.m. EDT) on Saturday, Oct. 21. The four-hour race will be televised on SPEED Channel from 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. EDT. American Le Mans Radio will have live coverage at www.americanlemans.com , which also will feature IMSA live timing and scoring.

Release Date: October 13, 2006