Sebring Eight-Hour Report: Class-Leading C6.Rs Survive Crashes
Nightfall Brings Reversal of Fortune for Corvette Racing
SEBRING, Fla. – With eight of the 12 hours of Sebring completed, Corvette Racing was running 1-2 in the production-based GT1 class and ranked third and fourth overall. Then just as the ninth hour began, both Corvette C6.Rs were damaged in separate incidents.
The No. 3 Compuware Corvette driven by Johnny O’Connell was first to suffer misfortune when a front brake rotor failed on the long straight leading into Turn 17. O’Connell pitched the car sideways into the tire barrier, and then limped the Corvette back to the pits with right-side body damage. The Corvette Racing crew replaced the front brake, taped the bodywork, and O’Connell returned to battle.
“The fact that the crew on the No. 3 car got the car running again says everything about Corvette Racing,” said O’Connell. “GM is a leader in racing safety, and I didn’t plan to be a crash dummy, but all of the safety systems worked perfectly.”
Moments later the No. 4 Corvette driven by Olivier Beretta, running third overall, had hard contact with another car and sustained serious damage to the right-rear suspension. The Corvette Racing pit crew was working to replace the damaged rear upright, control arms and halfshaft.
“The car hit me on the rear right,” Beretta reported. “It was dark and I think he didn’t see me. I went to the left and carried on my speed and suddenly something hit me.”
“The impact knocked out the right rear suspension,” explained Doug Fehan, GM Racing program manager for Corvette Racing. “If there’s no damage to the gearbox we’ll be back in and try to make up some ground in the final three hours.
“The No. 3 Corvette had a scary moment when a brake rotor failed at 175 mph,” he continued. “Only quick thinking by Johnny O’Connell saved the car. He downshifted, got the car slowed down and spun it around into the tires so it hit a lot softer. The team got it fixed, he’s back out there running and reports that everything is OK.”
The 12-hour race will conclude at 10:45 p.m. ET. The event is televised live on SPEED.
ALMS 12 HOURS OF SEBRING GT1 STANDINGS (after eight hours)
1. Gavin/Beretta/Magnussen, Corvette C6.R, 226 laps
2. Fellows/O’Connell/Papis, Corvette C6.R, 226
3. Brabham/Turner/Ortelli, Aston Martin DBR9, 225
4. Kelleners/Borcheller/Mowlem, Saleen S7R, 222
5. Kox/Lamy/Sarrazin, Aston Martin DBR9, 214
6. Weickardt/Rugolo/Belloc, Viper, 207
7. Figge/Dalziel/Empringham, Corvette C5-R, 207
8. Bertolini/De Simone/Babini, Maserati MC12, 205
9. Sutherland/Smith/Cole, Saleen S7R, 157
10. Bouchut/Bourdais/Gollin, Ferrari 550, 155 (retired)
Release Date: March 19, 2005