CORVETTE GETS HERO'S WELCOME IN LE MANS CELEBRATION
DETROIT (July 18, 2006) - A month after triumphing once again at Le Mans, Corvette Racing received a hero's welcome in Motor City today when a Corvette caravan commemorated the team's fifth victory in the GT1 class at the prestigious 24 Hours of Le Mans.
The celebration began with the presentation of the 24 Hours of Le Mans trophy at Compuware Corporation, the primary sponsor of the championship- winning Corvette C6.R race cars, and concluded at GM World Headquarters at the Renaissance Center after a parade through Detroit's downtown business district.
The roar of the No. 64 Compuware Corvette C6.R's 7-liter GM small-block V-8 racing engine reverberated through the skyscrapers as the caravan motored from Woodward Avenue to Jefferson Avenue The parade featured Corvette Racing drivers Oliver Gavin, Olivier Beretta, Jan Magnussen, Ron Fellows, Johnny O'Connell and Max Papis in Corvette convertibles, the Corvette Indianapolis 500 pace car, and dozens of Corvettes from local clubs.
Corvette Racing is a five-time champion in the GT1 class of the American Le Mans Series.
When the caravan arrived at its destination Tuesday, crew chief Ray Gongla demonstrated the race car's power with a tire-smoking burnout. Chevrolet general manager Ed Peper and Compuware chairman and CEO Peter Karmanos Jr. then thanked and congratulated the Corvette Racing team in front of an enthusiastic crowd of fans and supporters.
"This is a big day for all of us because we're celebrating another huge win for the Corvette Racing team - their fifth victory in the biggest, most prestigious and most important road racing event in the world," said Peper. "We're very proud that Corvette competes and wins on that global stage. Today we applaud the accomplishments of the men and women of Corvette Racing, and we salute the team that works behind the scenes at General Motors and our affiliated sponsors and suppliers to make this a world-class racing team.
"We believe a great race car begins with a great production car," Peper noted. "One look at the Corvette Z06 supercar and the Corvette C6.R race car shows the two-way transfer of technology between racing and production that benefits our customers. A major reason that Chevy is the most successful marque in motorsports is the GM small-block V-8, the world's most successful production-based racing engine. There's no better way to celebrate Corvette's 50th anniversary in international road racing than with this win at Le Mans."
On June 18, drivers Gavin, Beretta and Magnussen scored Corvette Racing's fifth GT1 victory in the last six last years in the grueling 24-hour endurance race contested in Le Mans, France, since 1923. It was the trio's third consecutive class victory at the Circuit des 24 Heures du Mans, the site of the twice-around-the-clock race. The winning Corvette C6.R completed 355 laps of the 8.481-mile circuit (3,011 miles) and won by a five-lap margin of victory over Aston Martin Racing.
"It's an honor to be here with General Motors and Corvette Racing," said Karmanos. "Our sponsorship is really a natural one - it works out so well for us as we're both Detroit-based companies. Of course GM has been here a little while longer than we have, but we feel honored to be able to help with the Corvette racing program. I want to congratulate the team for their third victory in a row and fifth overall at Le Mans; that's quite an achievement."