Corvette Racing Wins Petit Le Mans
BRASELTON, Ga. – Corvette Racing beat the heat, beat the clock and beat its rivals to win today’s 1,000-mile Petit Le Mans endurance race at Road Atlanta. Corvette Racing teammates Oliver Gavin, Olivier Beretta and Jan Magnussen duplicated their earlier win in the 24 Hours of Le Mans with their No. 4 Compuware Corvette C6.R. The trio completed 379 laps, finishing one lap ahead of the No. 57 Aston Martin DBR9 and third overall.
Gavin and Beretta scored their sixth win in their last seven starts and took a 15-point lead (173-158) over their Corvette Racing teammates Ron Fellows and Johnny O’Connell in the GT1 championship standings. The No. 3 Compuware Corvette of Fellows, O’Connell and Max Papis retired after 357 laps and was credited with a sixth-place finish in the GT1 division.
Beretta started on the GT1 pole and the yellow Corvette was in control throughout the event. The race took a decisive turn shortly after the 4-hour mark when Gavin gained a one-lap advantage on his closest pursuer. The team was able to maintain that margin throughout the remainder of the 9-hour, 17-minute race despite a pit stop for a splash of fuel in the final minutes.
“It’s been hard, it’s been hot, it’s been everything you would expect of Petit Le Mans,” said Gavin. “Aston Martin pushed us all the way. At times the track got very slick and everyone in the class was struggling. A few things went our way today, and we were able to take those opportunities with both hands. The team did a fantastic job with the race strategy and tire selection today. As always, the Corvette C6.R performed brilliantly.”
“My heart was in my throat when Olivier made that final pit stop because anything can happen,” Gavin admitted. “Fortunately it went like clockwork.”
“Now we have won the big Le Mans and the small Le Mans in one year!” said Beretta, who scored his 23rd career ALMS victory. “Olly and Jan are fast and clever teammates; they know when to push and when it is time to save the car. The Corvette C6.R has shown it’s the car to have in GT1. This race was quite hard because of the traffic, but we didn’t have contact once today. At the end I was just taking care of the car.”
Magnussen was unable to join the victory celebration because he departed for Denmark after his final stint. He was scheduled to compete in the season finale of the Dutch Touring Car championship on Sunday.
“I’m so proud to be involved with this program and with a team that is as professional as this one,” said Magnussen as he left to catch a private jet for his trans-Atlantic journey.
“We haven’t had good luck at this race, but congratulations to the team on the No. 4 Corvette,” said O’Connell. “It was a difficult weekend for us, but everyone gave 110 percent. We have one more race to run this season, and we’ll go to Laguna Seca to see if we can’t get No. 3 back in the winner’s circle.”
“At the end of the day, there’s still a yellow car in the winner’s circle, and that’s good news for Corvette Racing,” added Fellows. “Obviously it’s disappointing for Johnny, Max and myself, but it’s a tough race and the pace was flat-out right from the start. That’s why Corvette Racing has two cars in the race because you never know if you’re going to have a problem. Often it’s a 1-2 finish, but not today.”
Today’s result marked Corvette Racing’s fifth Petit Le Mans victory in six years.
“I think the race lived up to expectations, with great race cars, great teams and great drivers,” said Corvette Racing program manager Doug Fehan. “Any time you get a mix like that, this is the kind of exciting show you’re going to get.”
“We knew the race would be a formidable challenge and we were as well prepared as we could possibly be,” Fehan noted. “In the end, Corvette Racing prevailed.”
Corvette Racing’s next event is the season-ending Monterey Sports Car Championships at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca on Saturday, Oct. 15, starting at 3:15 p.m. PDT. The 4-hour race will be televised tape-delayed on the SPEED Channel on Sunday, Oct. 16, at 3 p.m. EDT.
Petit Le Mans GT1 Results
1. Gavin/Beretta/Magnussen, Chevrolet Corvette C6.R, 379
2. Brabham/Turner/Kane, Aston Martin DBR9, 378
3. Borcheller/Mowlem/Kelleners, Saleen S7R, 372
4. Bertolini/de Simone/Babini, Maserati MC12, 371
5. Kox/Lamy/Enge, Aston Martin DBR9, 359
6. O’Connell/Fellows/Papis, Chevrolet Corvette C6.R, 357
7. Weickardt/Rugolo/Belloc, Dodge Viper, 303
Oct. 15, Monterey Sports Car Championships, Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, Monterey, Calif.
TV: SPEED, Oct. 16, 3 p.m. EDT
Release Date: October 1, 2005