Corvette C6.R Races to 1-2 Finish at Road Atlanta
Fellows and O’Connell Score First Victory for New Corvette Race Car
BRASELTON, Ga. – Corvette Racing made history today at Road Atlanta when Johnny O’Connell and Ron Fellows drove the new Corvette C6.R to its first victory. Following in the tire tracks of the championship-winning Corvette C5-R, the production-based Corvette C6.R notched Corvette Racing’s 36th win at the Sportsbook.com Grand Prix of Atlanta. Oliver Gavin and Olivier Beretta were second across the strip to score a 1-2 finish for Corvette Racing.
With today’s win by the No. 3 Compuware Corvette, teammates O’Connell and Fellows tallied their 22nd ALMS victories, tying the series record for career wins. O’Connell put the C6.R on the GT1 pole, and the duo led the class for the entire 2-hour, 45-minute race. They finished fifth overall and one lap ahead of Gavin and Beretta in the No. 4 Compuware Corvette.
“Ron and I were able to get the last win in the C5-R, and to get the first win with the C6.R at my home track is very special,” said O’Connell, who lives seven miles from the Road Atlanta circuit. “I knew in qualifying that this was the best car I’ve driven since I joined Corvette Racing. Ron and I did what we always do – push as hard as we can and stay out of trouble.”
Fellows concurred: “It’s been a tremendous team effort by Corvette Racing since I joined the program in November 1997. I’m really proud to be part of it.
“I want to dedicate this win to an old friend who died last week,” Fellows said. “He built a race track in Ontario and gave a lot of us a place to race. This one’s for John Nelson.”
While the race was trouble free for O’Connell and Fellows, their teammates had to overcome adversity. At the 90-minute mark, Oliver Gavin made an excursion into the Turn 10 gravel trap that dropped his yellow Corvette from second to fifth in class. Just as they did in the season-opening Sebring race, the team battled back to get a podium finish.
“I put a little drama into the day – going off in Turn 10 was not in the plan,” Gavin explained. “I think I had the brake balance just a little too far to the rear. When I got hard on the brake pedal, it just locked the rears and looped me into the gravel.”
Gavin then proceeded to hunt down and overtake the Maserati MC12 and Saleen S7R that had benefited from his misfortune. With 12 minutes left in the race, he passed the Maserati in Turn 10 and secured the second spot on the podium.
“I had to pass the Saleen and pass the Maserati, and they were very strong,” Gavin noted. “In the season to come we’re going to have some very good races.”
GM Racing program manager Doug Fehan has played a key role in every Corvette Racing victory. He characterized today’s 1-2 finish by the factory team as another example of the racing spirit that infuses every Corvette.
“Today’s race again demonstrated that this team just does not give up,” said Fehan. “The cars ran flawlessly all day long. Except for the slight off by Olly, it was clockwork.”
Corvette chief engineer Dave Hill was on had to witness the Corvette C6.R’s milestone first victory.
“Customer enthusiasm this weekend was at all all-time high with the production Z06 on display and the factory team racing here with the Corvette C6.R,” said Hill. “It was a marvelous accomplishment for Corvette Racing to fight back to get a good finish, and we’ve now done that twice in two races. That shows tremendous determination.”
The next round of the American Le Man Series will be contested at the historic Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on May 22. The race will be televised on CBS.
Sportsbook.com Grand Prix of Atlanta GT1 Results
1. Fellows, O’Connell/Chevrolet Corvette C6.R, 108 laps
2. Beretta, Gavin/Chevrolet Corvette C6.R, 107
3. Bertolini, DeSimone/Maserati MC12, 107
4. Borcheller, Mowlem/Saleen S7R, 107
5. Figge, Dalziel/Chevrolet Corvette C5-R, 106
6. Weickard, Rugolo, Belloc/Dodge Viper, 103
May 22, American Le Mans at Mid-Ohio, Lexington, Ohio
Release Date: April 17, 2005