Magnussen and O’Connell Win GT1 Battle in Lime Rock
No. 3 Corvette C6.R Notches Fourth ALMS Victory in 2008
LAKEVILLE, Conn. – Jan Magnussen and Johnny O’Connell didn’t give up when they were a lap behind the GT1 leader in today’s American Le Mans Northeast Grand Prix at Lime Rock Park. That perseverance was rewarded when they scored a come-from-behind victory after a sudden reversal of fortune put their No. 3 Compuware Corvette C6.R in front with 25 minutes remaining in the race. The pair’s fourth victory of the season was highlighted by a wheel-to-wheel battle between O’Connell and Olivier Beretta as they jockeyed for position as the No. 3 emerged from the pits after its final splash-and-go fuel stop.
O’Connell and Magnussen completed 157 laps on the reconfigured and repaved Lime Rock Park road course, finishing eighth overall. The No. 4 Compuware Corvette C6.R driven by Beretta and Oliver Gavin finished second with 146 laps after a gearbox problem sidelined the car with eight minutes remaining. The No. 009 Aston Martin DBR9 of Borcheller and Ducote was third in the GT1 class, completing 61 laps before retiring after an accident.
“Today’s race was a perfect example of why you never give up,” said Corvette Racing program manager Doug Fehan. “Coming off our second and third-place finishes in Le Mans, you might think that this team might be a little bit down. But take a look at what happened today: Nobody gave up when one of the cars was almost a lap down. That’s what makes Corvette Racing a great team.”
Magnussen started in the No. 3 Corvette and Gavin in the No. 4, and they completed their 57-minute stints without a caution period. The first full-course yellow began at the one-hour mark just after the Corvettes had pitted for fuel, tires and driver changes. When racing resumed 25 minutes later, the two Corvettes were nose-to-tail with O’Connell in the No. 3 and Beretta in the No. 4. The complexion of the race changed dramatically when a second safety car period began at 1:34 into the race. With the leading prototype between the two Corvettes, the No. 4 gained nearly a full lap on its sister car. Then a third yellow at 2:02 put the two cars back on the same lap.
Lime Rock Yellow Flag “It was looking dark for a while, but No. 3 Corvette C6.R was a great race car today,” Magnussen said. “I was unlucky with traffic in my stint, and then just after Johnny got into the car, the race leader was between the two Corvettes when the yellow flag came out. We lost nearly a full lap on the wave-by. It looked grim, but then we got back on the lead lap when the other car had to stop. Then they had a small problem and stopped again. We needed just a few gallons of ethanol to make it to the finish, and Johnny just pipped Olivier coming out of the pit lane. That was very exciting!”
O’Connell notched his 32nd career ALMS victory today, but it was his first win ever at Lime Rock Park.
“There are so many races we could have won but for bad luck,” said O’Connell. “I don’t know if we should have won this one, but I’m going to take it!”
“When I came out of the pits after the last stop, I saw Olivier coming,” O’Connell continued. “I held the inside line, and the only way he was going to take me was on the outside – and that would have been impossible.”
With their victory today, O’Connell and Magnussen now hold a 12-point lead (106-94) over their teammates in the GT1 drivers championship with six races remaining.
“That is racing,” said Beretta. “We were fast again like we were in Long Beach and Salt Lake City, but the luck was not with us. At the end of the day, Corvette Racing finished one and two, and we are still working to improve for next year.”
Gavin agreed: “You wonder when the luck will turn our way,” he said. “Olivier drove brilliantly and the team did a great job. Now we need to get to the bottom of the issue with the gearbox. We’re pleased that both cars have come out of this race unscathed and are ready for next weekend in Mid-Ohio, because this is a very difficult track.”
Corvette Racing’s next event is the Acura Sports Car Challenge at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio, on Saturday, July 19. NBC will televise the race tape-delayed on Sunday, July 20, at 12 p.m. EDT.
American Le Mans Northeast Grand Prix GT1 Results
1. O’Connell/Magnussen, Chevrolet Corvette C6.R, 157
2. Gavin/Beretta, Chevrolet Corvette C6.R, 146
3. Borcheller/Ducote, Aston Martin DBR9, 61 (accident)
GT1 Championship Standings (unofficial after five of 11 events)
1. Chevrolet 110
2. Aston Martin 23
1. Jan Magnussen 106
Johnny O’Connell 106
2. Oliver Gavin 94
Olivier Beretta 94
3. Ron Fellows 30
4. Max Papis 26
5. Terry Borcheller 23
Chapman Ducote 23
Antonio Garcia 23
July 19, 3:30 p.m. EDT, Acura Sports Car Challenge, Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, Lexington, Ohio
TV: NBC, July 20, 12 p.m. EDT
Release Date: July 12, 2008