Corvette Racing Takes Fifth at Road America
Gavin and Magnussen Run at the Front in GT, Beretta and Milner Retire after Accident
ELKHART LAKE, Wis., Aug. 20, 2011 – The fans wanted a four-hour race at Road America, and the American Le Mans Series teams delivered four hours of nonstop action in the Time Warner Cable Road Race Showcase. The No. 4 Compuware Corvette C6.R driven by Oliver Gavin and Jan Magnussen finished fifth in the GT class after running in the lead pack throughout the race. The No. 3 Compuware Corvette C6.R of Tommy Milner and Olivier Beretta retired with suspension damage after an accident at the three-hour mark. The No. 62 Risi Competizione Ferrari 458 Italia driven by Jaime Melo and Toni Vilander won the hard-fought GT category, and the No. 4 Corvette won the Michelin Green X Challenge competition.
After qualifying second and sixth, the yellow Corvettes were third and fourth when the first lap was completed. An early full-course caution opened the opportunity to split the race strategies, and Milner pitted the No.3 for fuel only at 20 minutes. After a spirited fight with the No. 56 BMW and the No. 62 Ferrari, Gavin took the lead at 54 minutes into the race. He held the point through the No. 4 Corvette's first pit stop, then had contact with the Ferrari as the two cars exited the pit lane simultaneously. After dropping to fifth, Gavin worked his way back to the front, passing the BMW again for the lead at 1:52. The Briton then handed off to Magnussen when the No. 4 pitted at 2:16.
"It was an action-packed stint," Gavin said. "I was tapped at the start, got sideways, and several cars screamed by on the inside. Then there was a big scrap as we went into Turn 5, with cars everywhere. Finally things settled down a little.
"On the first pass for the lead, the BMW was pushed wide by the Ferrari and they got bottled up in Carousel," he recalled. "I got around the BMW, and then passed the Ferrari as we came into Turn 14. After the pit stop, the Ferrari's door was open as we went down the pit lane, Vilander was trying to get himself secured, and he spun me around. On the next restart, I passed the Ferrari and was having a good battle with the leading BMW. When we came up behind a slower GTC car, he went left, I went right, and I managed to outdrag him on the front straight. It was great fun and great racing!"
Milner agreed. "The start was unbelievable," he said. "They've been trying to pack everybody up at the green flag, and they got that here at Road America. There was definitely some good action where I was sitting. After everything settled down, the No 3 Corvette was quick. The guys made the right call to switch strategy and pit us out of sequence."
That gamble nearly paid off as Beretta was running third in the No. 3 Corvette C6.R after taking over from Milner at 1:28 into the race. Milner was back in at 2:36, and stopped for fuel and two tires at 3:02. On the out-lap, he spun off in Turn 13 and damaged the right-side suspension.
"If I hadn't wrecked, that would have been the right call," Milner said. "It's frustrating because we had such a really good car today. We ran quick laps when I was by myself, but in traffic it's hard to run to the capabilities of the car. We put on two tires to go to the end, and the car was tough to drive with two sticker tires. I turned in for Turn 13, the rear was loose and I had to catch it. I was off the line, and there's a big bump at the exit. I tried to avoid it, but got the car sideways and into the wall."
"We got off sequence early and hoped that it would pay off," explained crew chief Dan Binks. "After that last pit stop, I think we had 'em smoked. The engineers made a great call, but with cold tires, Tommy just spun off. The rear suspension was too badly damaged to fix safely in 30 minutes, so we called it."
Magnussen was consistently in the top five in the No. 4 Corvette in the second half, and was attacking the No. 45 Porsche for third with 30 minutes remaining. In the closing minutes, however, he was passed by the No. 56 BMW, and then had to defend his position against the No. 17 Porsche.
"My first stint in the car was quite good," Magnussen said. "Then as the temperature cooled down, the balance of the car changed and I backed off to bring the car home. Fifth place is absolutely not satisfying in any way; it's not where I thought we were going to finish."
The No. 4 Corvette C6.R won the Michelin Green X Challenge competition as the fastest, cleanest, and most efficient entry in the GT class for the third consecutive race.
"Corvette Racing won the inaugural Michelin Green X Challenge in 2009, and to win for the ninth time in the milestone 25th competition shows Chevrolet's enduring commitment to efficiency, performance, and alternative fuels," said Corvette Racing program manager Doug Fehan. "The team did a masterful job of executing a two-car strategy, but unfortunately circumstances prevented us from reaching our goal."