Corvette Captures 1-2 GTS Victory at Lime Rock Park
Gavin and Beretta win their first race together since Le Mans
LIME ROCK, Conn. – The General Motors Chevrolet Corvette Racing team continued its winning ways in 2004 with a 1-2 GTS victory at Round 3 of the American Le Mans Series at Lime Rock Park on Monday. Oliver Gavin and Olivier Beretta, driving the #4 Compuware Corvette C5-R, won the GTS class after starting from pole position while Ron Fellows and Johnny O’Connell finished second in the #3 Compuware Corvette C5-R. The factory Chevrolets are undefeated in 2004.
“This was a good, clean race between two very skilled teams, two equally prepared cars and four experienced drivers,” said Doug Fehan, GM’s program manager for Corvette Racing. “The competition was very intense against the Saleen in the first part of the race but our team worked very hard and we were able to give the fans an excellent show and a Corvette 1-2 finish.”
The factory Chevrolets put the exclamation point on an already stellar weekend, after posting the fastest times in each practice session and taking the first two positions during Saturday’s qualifying session. While the #63 Saleen ran an impressive start, taking the lead at the first corner of the race, the Corvettes paced steadily and regained the 1-2 position at lap 13. As dark clouds gathered in the sky, many drivers called into their pits requesting intermediate-tread tires for the rain; the Corvette engineers referred to their weather radar, which indicated the storm would pass, and the two Chevrolets stayed on course and gained speed in their slick tires as the course dried. While the #3 Corvette enjoyed a small lead for the middle of the race, Oliver Gavin gained time in his #4 car and, when both Corvettes came in for pit stops at lap 110, the two cars ran nose-to-tail with full tanks of gas, new tires and new drivers. Ron Fellows held the lead coming out of the pit lane, but Olivier Beretta made a fantastic pass for position at Turn 1 of lap 124. The two would cross the finish line in the same order, with pole-sitter Beretta taking the win in the # 4 Corvette C5-R.
“I am very happy to win for Corvette today,” said Beretta. “I’ve known Ron Fellows since 1999 and we always have good, fair racing. When I saw I had a clean pass at Turn 1, I took it and then pushed to get a bit of a lead. I think that it was exciting for the fans and I am proud for the crew that I was able to win for them.”
Beretta’s teammate, Oliver Gavin, worked hard to regain lost time during his driving stint.
“We pushed and pushed all day long,” said Gavin. “I gave the car to Olivier and I knew he would push as hard as I did and the fans saw the great job he did. He made a great pass to get us the lead. This is a wonderful day for Corvette and Chevrolet.”
Ron Fellows and Johnny O’Connell finished second after holding the lead for the majority of the middle of the race.
“I thought we had a great car today and I’m happy for our entire team,” said Fellows. “Olivier made a good pass on me after I had a bad exit from Turn 7, and he was able to get around me at Turn 1. During the last caution period I got a little bit off the line and my tires got dirty, and he was able to get a better restart. It was a good fight and a good show for the fans.”
Fellows’s teammate Johnny O’Connell was happy to see both teams in the top positions.
“Anytime we finish 1-2, it’s a great weekend for us,” said O’Connell. “The main goal for everyone on this team is to win the Manufacturers’ title for Chevrolet and today we’re one step closer to that goal. I’m glad we are able to leave Lime Rock with no damage to our cars.”
The Corvette Racing team returns to competition at Sonoma’s Infineon Raceway on July 16, with Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and Boris Said in a third Corvette C5-R.
|Provisional Results (GTS Class)|
|1||4||#4 Chevrolet Corvette C5-R||Gavin, Beretta||160|
|2||5||#3 Chevrolet Corvette C5-R||O’Connell, Fellows||160|
|3||6||#63 Saleen S7R||Borcheller, Mowlem||159|
|4||14||#71 Dodge Viper GTS-R||Belloc, Weickardt||149|
|5||21||#5 Lamborghini Murcielago||Brabham, Kox||103|