Corvette Racing Scores 50th Victory in Portland Grand Prix
Gavin and Beretta Back on Track with Fifth GT1 Win in 2006
Portland, Ore. – Record-breaking heat gave way to a history-making performance today as Oliver Gavin and Olivier Beretta notched Corvette Racing’s 50th victory. It was a day of champagne and roses in the Rose City for the pair as their No. 4 Compuware Corvette C6.R finished 54.8 seconds ahead of the No. 007 Aston Martin DBR9 of Tomas Enge and Darren Turner. Ron Fellows and Johnny O’Connell finished third in the No. 3 Compuware Corvette C6.R.
“It’s fantastic to be part of Corvette’s 50th victory,” said Gavin. “The car was fantastic and the Michelin tires stood up extremely well under very hot conditions. We just managed everything as best we could and slowly eked out a lead. It was a hard fought battle in very difficult circumstances.”
Corvette Racing’s milestone 50th win came as Chevrolet is celebrating Corvette’s 50th anniversary in international road racing. Corvette Racing’s resume includes 44 victories in the American Le Mans Series, five wins in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and a victory in the Rolex 24 at Daytona.
“This one felt like it was 150 degrees,” said Corvette Racing program manager Doug Fehan. “We had cloud cover all day, and then just before the start the sun came out and superheated everything. The drivers did a magnificent job under adverse conditions, and their fitness levels paid off. It was a real dogfight with a great competitor, and fortunately we prevailed. Any time you get two cars on the podium, you’ve had a good day.”
Beretta drove the first and third stints in the two-hour, 45-minute race. He had to contend with a malfunctioning air conditioner in the hottest part of the day.
“I was trying very hard to keep the lead, and the Aston Martin was putting a lot of pressure on us,” said Beretta. “This was an amazing race, and this team is unbelievable. Corvette Racing never gives up.”
Beretta qualified on the GT1 pole, and took the lead at the green flag. At 31 minutes into the race, the No. 009 Aston Martin made an unscheduled pit stop and subsequently received a stop-and-go penalty for a pit infraction. Beretta then came under pressure from the No. 007 Aston Martin. A full-course caution at the 50-minute mark signaled a round of pit stops and driver changes. Quick work by the Corvette crew put the C6.Rs first and second when the green flag flew at 1:05 into the race. The No. 007 Aston Martin regained second place as the final pit stops took place with 30 minutes remaining.
“That was without a doubt the most physically demanding battle we’ve ever had,” said O’Connell, who drove the second stint in the No. 3 Corvette C6.R. “Unfortunately our air conditioner wasn’t working, and it was very difficult to breathe. It was very hard work, and we pushed very hard. There are times when you want to quit, but you can’t because you know the team is pulling for you. Third place isn’t the result that Ron and I wanted, but sometimes you get those.”
Beretta and Gavin solidified their hold on the GT1 championship with 106 points, 12 ahead of their Aston Martin rivals. Fellows and O’Connell are third in the championship race with 90 points.
The Portland Grand Prix will be televised tape-delayed on CBS Sports on Sunday, July 23, at 3 p.m. EDT. Corvette Racing’s next event is the Generac 500 at Road American in Elkhart Lake, Wis., on Sunday, August 20. The seventh round of the 10-race ALMS series will be televised live on SPEED starting at 3 p.m. EDT.
Portland Grand Prix GT1 Results
1. Gavin/Beretta, Chevrolet Corvette C6.R, 133
2. Enge/Turner, Aston Martin DBR9, 133
3. Fellows/O’Connell, Chevrolet Corvette C6.R, 133
4. Lamy/Sarrazin, Aston Martin DBR9, 131
Aug. 20, Generac 500 at Road America, Elkhart Lake, Wis., 4.048-mile road course TV: CBS Sports, Aug. 20, 3 p.m. EDT
Release Date: July 22, 2006