Corvette Racing Gets the Kinks Out at Road America
Corvette Drivers Relish Return to High-Speed Wisconsin Road Course
ELKHART LAKE, Wis. – The polls have closed and the votes have been tabulated. By a three-to-one margin, Corvette Racing’s drivers have acclaimed the Kink to be the greatest corner on the classic Road America circuit. The drivers will test their mettle on this challenging road course in Saturday’s four-hour Generac 500 at Road America, the seventh round of the American Le Mans Series.
Exit poll interviews showed strong backing for the Kink:
“I love the Kink,” said Olivier Beretta.
“The Kink is the corner that gets every driver’s heart going,” said Jan Magnussen.
“If you can get the Kink right, you are really gaining a lot of lap time,” said Oliver Gavin.
Ever the contrarian, Johnny O’Connell expressed a dissident view: “I didn’t pick the Kink because it’s one mean corner,” said the Georgian. “I don’t think any of the other guys on the team have wrecked there, but I have. I’ll take Canada Corner instead.”
What is it about this strip of asphalt in the rolling hills of Wisconsin’s Kettle Moraine forest that inspires such passion? On paper, the Kink is simply the 11th of 14 turns on the 4.048-mile course, a 725-foot radius bend at 900 feet of elevation. But behind the wheel of a 600-horsepower Corvette C6.R, it is something quite different.
“It’s a corner where you feel your car sliding, you feel the speed, and you feel like you are alive,” said Beretta, a three-time GT1 winner at Road America. “You have to have a very good car, and when the car is good, it’s quite challenging. You always think you can go quicker, but you discover that you cannot or you will have a big one.”
Gavin echoed his teammate’s sentiments: “It’s very important to come out of that corner with a lot of speed because it leads onto a very fast, long straight to Canada Corner,” said the Briton. “It’s a great race track and one that I really enjoy driving around.”
Like the Le Mans circuit in France, Road America demands speed and stability. It’s a combination that Corvette Racing crew knows how to deliver. The Corvette race cars will generate 2.6 g’s of lateral force as they negotiate the Kink at over 145 mph.
“The Kink is a unique turn in the American Le Mans Series, totally unlike any other corner,” explained Ken Flory, chief engineer for the No. 3 Compuware Corvette C6.R. “It’s flat, it’s blind, and it’s very fast. You pick a turn-in point, turn the wheel, and hope for the best.”
“At that speed, it’s all about aerodynamic grip,” said Flory, who has raced his SCCA championship-winning Pontiac Solstice at Road America. “We want high-speed downforce in the corner to give the car stability and to give the drivers confidence.”
The Carousel that leads into the Kink also gets rave reviews from Corvette Racing. It’s a constant 525-foot radius corner that turns more than 180 degrees.
“The Carousel is a fantastic corner,” declared Gavin. “You approach it in third or fourth gear and carry lot of speed into the turn. About halfway through the Carousel, the road starts to fall away and it’s a real challenge to balance the car. You need to have good, progressive steering to keep pointing the car into the corner. You don’t want a darty or nervous car there because that will instantly catch you out.”
Magnussen agreed: “The Carousel is a long corner and the car has to work well on the entry, work well in the middle when you’re a little off the power, and work well when you’re on the gas going out,” the Dane explained. “The technique is the same as always: Try to do it a little better than everyone else!”
So why does O’Connell rate Canada Corner over the Kink as his No. 1 choice at Road America?
“The feeling is almost like being in a tunnel with the trees around you,” O’Connell said. “In truth, Road America is one of the few circuits in this country where every corner is a challenge and every corner is beautiful.”
Bike Ride to Fight Cancer
The four-hour Generac 500 may have to vie with the bicycle match race of the year for top billing at Road America. Corvette Racing program manager Doug Fehan has challenged driver Oliver Gavin to a one-lap sprint around the circuit to raise funds for the Tour de Road America Bike Ride to Fight Cancer. The race will take place on Friday, Aug. 8, at 7:15 p.m.
As of August 4, supporters have pledged $5,270 to the Corvette Challenge Bike Ride. In a strong vote for age and treachery, the 60-year-old Fehan has raised $3,490 to $1,780 for the 35-year-old Englishman.
Fans can show their support for Fehan or Gavin by pledging donations to the Lance Armstrong Foundation online at http://www.pelotonride.org/corvettechallenge.html. Pledges also can be made in person at the Corvette Corral and by mail with a donation form available on the website.
Corvette Racing’s next event is the Generac 500 at Road America presented by Time Warner Cable in Elkhart Lake, Wis. The four-hour race is scheduled to start at 4 p.m. CDT on Saturday, Aug. 9. SPEED will televise the race tape-delayed on Sunday, Aug. 10, at 2 p.m. EDT.
Release Date: August 4, 2008