Gavin and Beretta Repeat in St. Pete
Corvette Racing Makes History with First ALMS Win with Cellulosic E85 Ethanol Racing Fuel
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Corvette Racing made motorsports history today, scoring the first victory with E85R ethanol racing fuel in American Le Mans Series competition. On a sultry, sunny day, Oliver Gavin and Olivier Beretta sailed to their second consecutive class victory on the waterfront street circuit in St. Petersburg, Fla. The reigning champions won the GT1 division in the Acura Sports Car Challenge of St. Petersburg with a 4.754-second margin of victory in their No. 4 Compuware Corvette C6.R over Johnny O’Connell and Jan Magnussen in the No. 3 Compuware Corvette C6.R.
“I think we demonstrated not only to our fellow competitors but also to the world of racing that E85R is a viable and powerful fuel,” said Corvette Racing program manager Doug Fehan. “We’re very pleased with how it turned out.”
The one-hour, 55-minute race began under caution with a single-file start on the 1.8-mile street circuit alongside Tampa Bay. When the green flag flew, pole-sitter Beretta made a fast break through traffic while O’Connell had to contend with a radio problem. Both cars stayed out during the first full-course caution at the 41-minute mark, then pitted on consecutive laps as the first hour of racing ended. Gavin replaced Beretta, Magnussen replaced O’Connell, and the two yellow Corvettes ran to the finish without another stop.
“Olivier made a great start, we had a fantastic pit stop, and we extended our lead when we could,” said Gavin, who tallied his 29th career ALMS victory today. “It’s been a very good weekend for Olivier and I. We’ve been fast all weekend, and we wanted to get back to winning form after a disappointing race in Sebring.”
The winning duo completed 79 laps around the 14-turn temporary circuit and finished eighth overall.
“This was our first race running cellulosic E85 ethanol, and we had great performance and great fuel efficiency,” Gavin said. “We could have done the entire race on one pit stop. There were question marks about that from some people, but it’s been proven it’s a great fuel to run and it’s doing a bit for the green issue.”
“The car was absolute dynamite today,” the Englishman declared. “Steve Cole, our engineer, did a great job with the setup. It was also a great first victory with our new crew chief, Mike West. Our former crew chief, Ray Gongla, was an integral part of the No. 4 Corvette crew and he’s sorely missed, but he’s back in the shop working hard and we’re thinking of him.”
Beretta extended his record as the all-time leader in ALMS victories with his 38th career win.
“Everything was good with the car and I just stayed out of trouble,” Beretta reported. “When the No. 3 Corvette pitted, it was a challenging moment because I was stuck in traffic. I had to stay off the wall, keep the car on the track, and try to run as quickly as I can to avoid losing time.”
“It was hot today, but the cockpit temperature was very comfortable,” he noted. “GM did a fantastic job with the air conditioning system to keep us cool. It’s warm, but that’s normal – we’re not sitting on a beach, we’re driving a racing car!”
The Aston Martin DBR9 of Borcheller and Ducote split the two Corvettes after their pit stops, but the green machine was sidelined after contact with a GT2 Viper. The damaged car retired after 48 laps.
“Normally when I’m out there on the track, I’ve got (crew chief) Dan Binks spotting for me, but today with our radio problem, I had no spotting,” said O’Connell. “I had to keep an eye on everything going on around me in traffic. Fortunately, everyone was reasonably well behaved.”
Magnussen agreed: “It was tough today without radio communication on most of the circuit. My Corvette was actually quite good, but it took some time to get the tires up to speed after the safety car periods, so that’s something I’m going to work on.”
The race was slowed by four caution periods, but the twin Corvettes emerged unscathed.
“There were many close calls, but I kept thinking about Doug Fehan’s three rules: Don’t hit anybody, don’t go off the track, and don’t break anything,” Gavin said. “As long as you keep those golden rules in mind, everything will be all right.”
Corvette Racing’s next event is the Tequila Patron American Le Mans Series race on the temporary street circuit in Long Beach, Calif., on Saturday, April 19, at 4:10 p.m. PT. ABC will televise the one-hour, 40-minute event tape-delayed at 12:30 p.m. ET on Sunday, April 20.
Acura Sports Car Challenge of St. Petersburg GT1 Results
1. Gavin/Beretta, Chevrolet Corvette C6.R, 79
2. O’Connell/Magnussen, Chevrolet Corvette C6.R, 79
3. Borcheller/Ducote, Aston Martin DBR9, 48 (accident)
GT1 Championship Standings (unofficial after two of 11 events)
1. Chevrolet 50
2. Aston Martin 36
1. Jan Magnussen 46
Johnny O’Connell 46
Oliver Gavin 46
Olivier Beretta 46
2. Terry Borcheller 36
Chapman Ducote 36
3. Ron Fellows 30
4. Max Papis 26
5. Antonio Garcia 23
April 19, 2008, 4:10 p.m. PT, Tequila Patron American Le Mans Series, Long Beach, Calif.
TV: ABC tape delay, Sunday, April 20, 12:30 p.m.
Release Date: April 5, 2008