Magnussen and O’Connell Rule GT1 in Detroit Street Race
Luck Goes Against Gavin and Beretta in First Pace Car Period
DETROIT – Corvette Racing drivers Jan Magnussen and Johnny O’Connell are on a roll in the American Le Mans Series. The pair backed up their win last weekend at Mosport International Raceway with a GT1 class victory today in the inaugural Detroit Sports Car Challenge at the Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix. They scored their third win of the season in the No. 3 Compuware Corvette C6.R with a one-lap margin of victory over their teammates Oliver Gavin and Olivier Beretta in the No. 4 Compuware Corvette C6.R.
The two-hour, 45-minute race on the 2.0-mile Belle Isle Park temporary street circuit was slowed by four caution periods, but it was the first full-course yellow that was the key to victory for Magnussen and O’Connell. After winning the GT1 pole on Friday, Magnussen pulled out to a six-second lead over Beretta in the first 26 minutes of racing. When the yellow flag flew just as the Corvettes had completed 19 laps, the race leader was between the two yellow cars. Consequently when the wave-by was completed, the No. 3 Corvette gained nearly a full lap on its stable mate, and held that advantage to the finish.
“I had a fantastic car today,” said Magnussen. “I was able to pull out a good gap in the first stint, and the way the safety car worked out we got almost a full lap. It seemed like I was bad luck for Johnny in the beginning of the year, but it’s all changed now and we’re starting a string.”
“There is a lot going on around you all the time on this circuit,” said the Danish driver. “It’s a matter of trying to minimize the loss of time through traffic, not hit anybody, and stick to the plan. The Corvette C6.R car worked great and the Michelin tires were absolutely mega.”
Beretta drove the first hour and four minutes and then turned over the No. 4 Corvette C6.R to Gavin. Two minutes later, O’Connell replaced Magnussen in the No. 3 Corvette C6.R. The cars then made simultaneous pit stops under caution at 1:47 into the race for fuel and tires only. Two subsequent caution periods made it difficult for the No. 4 Corvette to gain ground on its rival.
“We got a huge break when the caution came out; it worked against us in Elkhart Lake and it worked for us here,” O’Connell said. “We’ve suffered through enough bad luck, so it’s great to finally have things go our way. Jan got us going with a killer lap.”
“It’s sweet to get the first ALMS win for Corvette here in Motor City,” added O’Connell, who notched his 28th ALMS victory. “I look forward to coming back here year after year. To be able to display the performance of these race cars and show what this race team does to all the important people at General Motors is a cool thing. There’s nothing like driving a Corvette in Detroit!”
Although Magnussen and O’Connell won the battle in Detroit, Gavin and Beretta are winning the war for the GT1 drivers championship. They lead the championship race by 32 points with two races remaining.
“In my stint I struggled a little at the beginning,” Beretta reported. “The rear was light, and then we had the pace car. I didn’t want to take any risks today, I just wanted to bring home the points. I am looking for the championship now.”
“There was plenty of bumping and banging throughout the race, but both Corvettes stayed out of trouble,” Gavin noted. “Both cars were quick in and out on the pit stops, and Corvette Racing won the pit stop competition yesterday which proves we are the fastest team in the pit lane. My car ran faultlessly all day.”
“Congratulations to the No. 3 Corvette for their win today,” Gavin continued. “It was great to show off the C6.R’s technology, and great to race here in front of so many GM employees and fans.”
The inaugural ALMS race in Detroit capped a hectic week for Corvette Racing that included personal appearances, meetings with GM executives, charity events, and gatherings with Corvette club members.
“It is so exciting to have Corvette Racing in Detroit,” said Chevrolet general manager Ed Peper. “Corvette is the ultimate performance car and an American icon. To have racing back in Detroit is just sensational.”
Corvette Racing’s next event is the 10-hour/1,000-mile Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta in Braselton, Ga., on Saturday, Oct. 6. SPEED Channel will televise the race live starting at 11:30 a.m. ET.
Detroit Sports Car Challenge presented by Bosch GT1 Results
1. O’Connell/Magnussen, Chevrolet Corvette C6.R, 103
2. Gavin/Beretta, Chevrolet Corvette C6.R, 102
GT1 Championship Standings (unofficial after 10 of 12 events)
1. Chevrolet 209
2. Aston Martin 19
3. Maserati 16
1. Oliver Gavin 197
Olivier Beretta 197
3. Jan Magnussen 165
Johnny O’Connell 165
5. Ron Fellows 35
6. Max Papis 26
7. Antonio Garcia 19
Liz Halliday 19
Darren Turner 19
10. Didier Theys 16
Fredy Lienhard 16
12. Andy Pilgrim 13
Oct. 6, 2007, 11:45 a.m. ET, Petit Le Mans, Braselton, Ga.
TV: SPEED live telecast, 11:30 a.m. ET
Release Date: Sept. 1, 2007