O’Connell and Magnussen Score Third GT1 Win of Season in Sizzling Utah Grand Prix
No. 3 Corvette C6.R Continues Hot Streak in High Desert
SALT LAKE CITY – Corvette Racing’s final warm-up for the 24 Hours of Le Mans was run in near-record temperatures as a heat wave in Utah’s high desert tested America’s premier production sports car team. Johnny O’Connell and Jan Magnussen kept their hot streak alive in the No. 3 Compuware Corvette C6.R, scoring a one-minute, 4.9-second victory over the No. 4 Compuware Corvette C6.R of Olivier Beretta and Oliver Gavin in the American Le Mans Series Larry H. Miller Dealerships Utah Grand Prix. It was the third victory in four races this season for O’Connell and Magnussen, who now hold an eight-point lead (86-78) in the GT1 drivers championships over their teammates.
“The car worked really well, and this was a really good final test before Le Mans,” said Magnussen as he shrugged off the 90-degree heat at Miller Motorsports Park. “We were able to get some good data, and the main thing is there’s not a scratch on the car.”
Beretta led the first 52 minutes in the pole-winning No. 4 Corvette C6.R, but O’Connell and the No. 3 Corvette C6.R took the point after the first round of pit stops when a problem with the refueling system cost the No. 4 car precious time in the pits. The No. 4 Corvette increased its margin on the two subsequent pit stops. Both Corvettes completed 88 laps and finished 10th and 11th overall in the 30-car field.
“Luck is a big part of it, and the luck is going our way now,” said O’Connell. “Jan is driving well, I feel that I’m driving well, so this is a great way to go into Le Mans. Hopefully we can continue with a lot of momentum.
“We had the luxury of being able to run a Le Mans setup with low downforce,” O’Connell reported. “It makes the car more difficult to drive, but that’s what we’ll run in Le Mans. One of the great things about our association with Michelin is that we’re always challenging them to improve and they’re constantly challenging us to get better.”
Beretta and O’Connell both drove two stints before handing off to their co-drivers at the 1:35 mark in the two-hour, 45-minute race.
“Congratulations to the No. 3 Corvette for the win,” said Beretta. “I pulled away a bit on the first stint, and then we had a refueling problem and lost a lot of time. The most important thing is that both cars are in good shape for Le Mans.”
Gavin agreed: “It’s not been a great weekend for the No. 4 car,” conceded the Briton. “There’s been some bumps in the road, topped off today by something strange going on in the refueling system. The car is a bit dusty, but it’s still in one piece.”
The twin Corvette race cars will begin their transatlantic journey in three days as the team prepares for its assault on the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
“I think we came away with some great data and we are absolutely ready for Le Mans,” commented Corvette Racing program manager Doug Fehan. “Today was very helpful running the tires in hot conditions, and that is something we wanted to do. We’re very satisfied with the information we collected.”
Corvette Racing’s next event is the 24 Hours of Le Mans in Le Mans, France, on June 14-15. The 76th running of the classic 24-hour endurance race on the 8.5-mile Circuit des 24 Heures du Mans will begin at 3 p.m. local time (9 a.m. EDT). Portions of the race will be televised live on SPEED.
Larry H. Miller Dealerships Utah Grand Prix GT1 Results
1. O’Connell/Magnussen, Chevrolet Corvette C6.R, 88
2. Gavin/Beretta, Chevrolet Corvette C6.R, 88
GT1 Championship Standings (unofficial after four of 11 events)
1. Chevrolet 90
2. Aston Martin 23
1. Jan Magnussen 86
Johnny O’Connell 86
2. Oliver Gavin 78
Olivier Beretta 78
3. Ron Fellows 30
4. Max Papis 26
5. Terry Borcheller 23
Chapman Ducote 23
Antonio Garcia 23
June 14-15, 3 p.m. CEST, 24 Hours of Le Mans, Circuit des 24 Heures du Mans, Le Mans, France
TV: SPEED live, see local listings
Release Date: May 18, 2008