Gavin and Beretta Return to Winning Form in Motor City
Pit Stops and Safety Car Put No. 4 Corvette C6.R in Detroit GT1 Winner’s Circle
DETROIT – As General Motors revs up for its centennial celebration on September 16, Corvette Racing drivers Oliver Gavin and Olivier Beretta raced to victory in the team’s milestone 100th race, the Detroit Sports Car Challenge. Held on the riverfront Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix temporary circuit within sight of GM’s world headquarters at the Renaissance Center, the ninth round of the American Le Mans Series saw Gavin and Beretta win their second race of the season in the No. 4 Compuware Corvette C6.R. The duo completed 100 laps and finished one minute and 7.3 seconds ahead of the No. 3 Compuware Corvette of Johnny O’Connell and Jan Magnussen. The No. 008 Aston Martin DBR9 finished third, seven laps behind the Corvettes.
The race also marked a turning point for Gavin and Beretta, who have now scored a record combined total of 69 American Le Mans Series victories but hadn’t won since the St. Petersburg street race in April. Beretta extended his record as the series’ most prolific winner with his 39th career victory, and Gavin joined the exclusive club of racers with 30 or more ALMS wins.
“It’s been a rough season for us, but if you’re going to win anywhere, Detroit is the one you want to win,” said Gavin. “Everybody on the team was very focused on this event, and it was a hard, close race for many laps. I have to thank all of the guys on the No. 4 Corvette C6.R – they’ve worked brilliantly over the last few events. I haven’t been so kind to this car, I’ve had some incidents and accidents, but they’ve fixed it fantastically. (Crew chief) Mike West and (engineer) Steve Cole have worked magic, setting up the car and getting it good for the races. We’ve been fast in every event, and finally it’s all fallen into place for the No. 4 Corvette.”
Gavin qualified four spots on the starting grid behind Magnussen in the pole-winning sister car, and had to contend with a trio of GT2 cars at the start. He cleared the traffic after 10 laps, and set off to catch Magnussen. Both cars pitted under caution at the 40-minute mark for tires, fuel, and driver changes. They entered the pits nose-to-tail, with the No. 4 car emerging in front with Beretta at the wheel and O’Connell in hot pursuit.
“I need to thank my crew because they work hard on the pit stops, and they work hard at the shop even when we are having bad luck,” said Beretta. “We have been quick all year, but even when we didn’t achieve what we wanted to do, they never gave up. That is the spirit of Corvette Racing.”
The two Corvettes again pitted simultaneously at 1:43 for their final stops, with Gavin taking over from Beretta and Magnussen replacing O’Connell for the final stint to the checkered flag. Magnussen mounted a late-race charge on Gavin, but was stymied by a full-course caution to remove debris from the track with 18 minutes remaining. This time it was the No. 3 Corvette that encountered misfortune – the race leader was between the two Corvettes, and Gavin gained nearly a full lap on the wave-by. Ironically, Magnussen and O’Connell had sealed their victory in last year’s inaugural Detroit ALMS race when they gained a lap on their teammates during a safety car period.
“We were looking good up until the first stop when the other car beat us out of the pits,” said Magnussen. “I think in traffic and over a long run we had a really good car. At the end when I was trying to attack, we got caught out with the safety car between us and lost a lap. That’s just how it is. The No. 4 Corvette has been so unlucky all year, it’s about time some luck went their way.”
Gavin agreed: “The race did hinge on the first pit stop,” the Briton explained. “It was a short fuel fill and the other car did have a small problem. Olivier withstood the pressure from Johnny, and Jan was pushing me hard but I managed to resist that. Our car was much improved from qualifying. We were aiming to run this differential and this setup just to see if we could improve our performance on street circuits. Today it all went according to plan.”
Today’s event also marked Corvette Racing’s 72nd victory in international road racing competition.
“It was an awesome event, and once again it came down to pit stops,” said Corvette Racing program manager Doug Fehan. “The fans saw flawless execution, with the No. 4 Corvette just a little quicker than the No. 3 Corvette on that first stop. It’s a great day for Oliver, Olivier, and the No. 4 crew – they haven’t had many breaks go their way this year, and eventually it had to change. You can’t hold great people down, and in the true spirit of Corvette Racing, they never gave up.”
Corvette Racing’s next event is Petit Le Mans, the 10th round of the 2008 American Le Mans Series, at Road Atlanta in Braselton, Ga. The 1,000-mile/10-hour race is scheduled to start at 11:15 a.m. EDT on Saturday, October 4. SPEED will televise the race live starting at 11 a.m. EDT.
Detroit Sports Car Challenge presented by Bosch GT1 Results
1. O’Connell/Magnussen, Chevrolet Corvette C6.R, 100
2. Gavin/Beretta, Chevrolet Corvette C6.R, 100
3. Borcheller/Ducote, Aston Martin DBR9, 93
GT1 Championship Standings (unofficial after nine of 11 events)
1. Chevrolet 195
2. Aston Martin 73
1. Jan Magnussen 187
Johnny O’Connell 187
2. Oliver Gavin 164
Olivier Beretta 164
3. Terry Borcheller 70
Chapman Ducote 70
4. Ron Fellows 30
5. Max Papis 26
6. Antonio Garcia 23
October 4, Petit Le Mans, Road Atlanta, Braselton, Ga.
TV: SPEED live, Oct. 4, 11:00 a.m. EDT
Release Date: August 30, 2008