Corvette Racing Takes Second and Fifth in Streets of Long Beach
Gavin and Magnussen Finish on GT Podium, Milner and Beretta Charge from Back of the Grid
Corvette Racing survived two hours of close combat to finish second and fifth in the American Le Mans Series at Long Beach. Jan Magnussen and Oliver Gavin took the second spot on the GT podium in the No. 4 Compuware Corvette C6.R when the race finished under caution. Tommy Milner and Olivier Beretta fought their way from the back of the grid at the start to fifth at the finish in the No. 3 Compuware Corvette C6.R. The BMW of Dirk Mueller and Joey Hand was first across the stripe under the yellow flag.
Not even Los Angeles' notorious rush hour could rival the traffic on the historic 1.968-mile, 11-turn temporary course. With 29 starters on the concrete-lined circuit, close calls and contact were commonplace, although only two full-course cautions slowed the race. Gavin started the No. 4 Corvette second on the GT grid and held that position through the opening segment, which was interrupted by a lengthy full-course caution. When racing resumed he took the lead with an opportunistic move.
"I had a very eventful stint with lots of bumping and banging and cars spinning in strange places," Gavin said. "The start was pretty standard, everyone got a bit strung out, and then the LMPC cars were getting in the way. It all started when the BMW behind me disappeared. On the next lap he was turned around at the fountain turn! The race leader went the wrong way, I went the right way, and I got myself into the lead."
Hand's BMW and Patrick Long's Porsche subsequently got around the Corvette, but Long soon encountered the wall and the Porsche eventually retired. As green-flag pit stops began shortly after the one-hour mark, Gavin handed off the No. 4 Corvette to Magnussen.
"I was pushing absolutely as hard as I could, and I was cutting the margin," said Magnussen, who ran the fastest lap of the race in GT and trimmed the BMW's lead to six seconds before the race-ending caution period. "There was a lot of traffic, and in a race like this you have to take so many chances. After the race I had a walk around the car and looked at all the places where I'd tapped the walls. It's a shame we weren't closer at the finish, we could have had a good fight."
Milner was on a mission when the race began, moving from 14th in class to fourth before the pit stop sequence put Beretta behind the wheel of the No. 3 Corvette. The car was moved to the back of the grid at the start after a post-qualifying change of tires.
"I got lucky with the first yellow flag because we'd just cleared all of the Challenge cars and LMPC cars," Milner said. "The car was great, and although it was a little banged up, it was still quick. That's just street racing -- everyone gets bunched up."
I was pushing absolutely as hard as I could, and I was cutting the margin.
Beretta brought the No. 3 home in fifth after a relatively uneventful run. "I'm happy for the team -- we got our second podium in two races which is really important," Beretta said. "Tommy did a good stint, he was very clever, and the car was quite fast. Then it was just using my brain to keep the position and put the points in the pocket."
Gavin and Magnussen are now second in the unofficial GT class points standings with 36 markers, and Beretta and Milner are third with 31. Mueller and Hand lead with 50 points.
"When you can leave Long Beach with two cars intact, you've accomplished something," said Corvette Racing program manager Doug Fehan. "The fact that we were able to finish second and fifth make this a very satisfying day. Now it's on to Le Mans!"
ESPN2 will televise coverage of the American Le Mans Series at Long Beach from 5 to 7 p.m. ET on Sunday, April 17.Corvette Racing's next event is the 24 Hours of Le Mans in Le Mans, France, on June 11-12, 2011.