Fellows, O’Connell and Corvette Win Five Straight at Infineon Raceway
Teammates Set ALMS Victory Record as Corvettes Finish 1-2 in GT1 Class
SONOMA, Calif. – Corvette Racing drivers Ron Fellows and Johnny O’Connell uncorked another vintage performance today in California’s wine country as GM’s factory racing team scored its fifth straight GT1 victory at Infineon Raceway. Fellows and O’Connell finished .455 seconds ahead of their Corvette Racing teammates Oliver Gavin and Olivier Beretta, setting the ALMS record for most victories with their 24th win in the series.
“We had a great pit stop when we did the first driver change, and I think that was a key for us,” said Fellows, who drove the first and third stints in the winning No. 3 Compuware Corvette. “We anticipated that the track would get slippery as the temperature rose, which is what happened when I drove in the Nextel Cup race here. We had a setup on the car that was better as the track got slicker, so it worked out for us.”
If race cars were judged like fine wine, the No. 3 Corvette would have earned a perfect 100 points today after starting on the GT1 pole and making a flawless run in the 2-hour, 45-minute Infineon Technologies Grand Prix of Sonoma.
“The trick is to make it look easy, but we were flat out on every lap,” O’Connell reported. “Ron and I have a lot of history at Infineon Raceway, and I remember every win here. The reason we have success is that we don’t make mistakes and we work together as a team.”
Dan Binks, crew chief for the No. 3 Corvette, has played a key role in Corvette Racing’s domination at the Northern California road course. “We just stayed on the track, and didn’t have any problems,” he explained. “It was hot and the pace was surprising, but the car was perfect. All in all it was a good day with both Corvettes up front at the finish.”
While the No. 3 Corvette had a relatively uneventful run to the winner’s circle, its sister car had a rough road to the runner-up finish. Gavin took the GT1 lead on the second lap, then lost it to Fellows eight laps later. He then had to make his first pit stop early when he felt a punctured tire.
After a driver change, Olivier Beretta lost radio communication with the pits, and then spun twice on the course without damage. Radio contact was restored when Gavin got back in for the final stint, passing the Saleen S7R with 25 minutes remaining to secure the 1-2 finish for Corvette Racing.
“It was very close between me and Ron at the start,” said Gavin, who recorded the fastest lap of the race in the GT1 division. “Ron and I had some backwards and forwards with the passing; I got him going into Turn 7 and then he got me going into Turn 11. It was good, clean racing and good fun.”
“Then we ran over something and punctured a tire, so I came in,” Gavin continued. “Unfortunately Olivier then had some incidents, too. The most important thing is that we came away with another 1-2 finish for Corvette Racing.”
“It was difficult because I had no radio since the beginning of my stint,” Beretta said. “In the first spin, I was braking hard into the turn and didn’t want to crash my teammate, so I spun. The second spin was my fault; I was trying to get the radio working and having difficulty with the air system, and I missed the hairpin.”
Fellows and O’Connell extended their lead in the GT1 drivers championship with their third win of the season, gaining an 11-point advantage over Gavin and Beretta. Corvette has a commanding lead in the manufacturers standings with four ALMS victories in 2005.
“The No. 3 Corvette ran a perfect race,” said GM Road Racing Group Manager Steve Wesoloski. “They had a great qualifying lap yesterday and followed it up with a flawless run today. The No. 4 car had some issues, but it was right there at the end, with two yellow Corvettes running nose-to-tail at the finish.”
Corvette Racing’s next event is the American Le Mans Portland Grand Prix at Portland International Raceway on July 29-30. The race will be televised live on the SPEED Channel on Saturday, July 30, at 8 p.m. EDT.
Infineon Technologies Grand Prix of Sonoma GT1 Results
1. O’Connell/Fellows, Chevrolet Corvette C6.R, 104
2. Gavin/Beretta, Chevrolet Corvette C6.R, 104
3. Borcheller/Mowlem, Saleen S7R, 104
4. Bertolini/DeSimone, Maserati MC12, 102
5. Weickardt/Rugolo, Dodge Viper, 80 (retired)
6. Figge/Dalziel, Chevrolet Corvette C5-R, 78 (accident)
July 30, American Le Mans Portland Grand Prix, Portland International Raceway
TV: SPEED, July 30, 8 p.m. EDT
Release Date: July 17, 2005