Corvette Racing’s Countdown to Le Mans Begins at Utah Grand Prix

May 14 2007 admin News Comments Off on Corvette Racing’s Countdown to Le Mans Begins at Utah Grand Prix

Salt Lake City Race Is Final Rehearsal Before 24 Hours of Le Mans

SALT LAKE CITY – Geographically and culturally, Salt Lake City and Le Mans are worlds apart. While Utah’s high desert has little in common with France’s lush Loire Valley, both cities are the home of impressive racing facilities. When Corvette Racing competes in the Utah Grand Prix at Miller Motorsports Park on May 19, it will be the final dress rehearsal for the team’s assault on the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

After three consecutive races in the tight confines of concrete-lined street circuits, Corvette Racing’s drivers are eager to return to the wide-open spaces of the 24-turn, 4.5-mile Miller Motorsports Park for the fifth round of the American Le Mans Series. The track is the longest road course in America, and its flat, smooth asphalt replicates the conditions that Corvette Racing will encounter on the immense 8.5-mile Circuit des 24 Heures du Mans on June 16-17.

“Parts of the track are very similar to Le Mans,” observed GT1 co-champion Oliver Gavin, driver of the No. 4 Compuware Corvette C6.R. “Miller Motorsports Park doesn’t have the same straight-line speed and heavy braking that we experience at Le Mans, but its racing surface is just as smooth and the circuit has elements that remind me of the Dunlop chicane and the Esses in Le Mans. We will also be evaluating Michelin tires and the new GM air conditioning system that we’ll use in France, so this race will be a good test before we go off to the challenge of the 24 Hours of Le Mans.”

“I love to race on the streets, but after three street races in a row, it will be good to go back to a dedicated road racing track,” added Olivier Beretta, Gavin’s teammate in the No. 4 Corvette C6.R. “My impression of the track in Salt Lake City is it’s like a European track, but even better because it’s longer. I never raced on a course with so many corners before we went there last year, and I’m happy to be going back.”

Last July at Miller Motorsports Park, the combination of 100-degree heat, 5,000-foot elevation and series-mandated performance handicaps handcuffed the Corvettes’ performance. With the prospect of milder spring weather and no performance adjustments in sight, the twin C6.R race cars will be flying high in this year’s Grand Prix of Utah.

“We were really shackled at that track last year, so it will be good to go back there and see what the Corvettes can really do,” Gavin noted. “I truly enjoyed driving the track in spite of the handicaps. It has a good combination of bends – in fact, there are so many turns and so few reference points that at first you wonder which way the track goes. It’s one circuit where you really need a map on the steering wheel to remember which way to turn!”

With race cars and supplies scheduled to be air freighted to France just days after the race in Salt Lake City, taking care of the equipment will be the team’s top priority.

“This will be the last race before we go the big one in Le Mans, so we must leave this race with both cars in good shape,” said Beretta. “Then it will be easy for everyone to fly to France.”

The Larry H. Miller Dealerships Utah Grand Prix, the fifth round of the 12-race 2007 American Le Mans Series, is scheduled to start at 5 p.m. local time (7 p.m. EDT) on Saturday, May 19. The two-hour, 45-minute race will be featured live on XM Radio, and be televised tape-delayed by CBS Sports on Sunday, May 20, at 1 p.m. EDT.

Release Date: May 14, 2007