Corvette Notches Ninth Win at Canadian Circuit, Scores First ALMS GT Victory of Season
BOWMANVILLE, Ontario, Canada, July 24, 2011 – Corvette Racing returned to the winner's circle today at the Mobil 1 presents the Grand Prix of Mosport as Oliver Gavin and Jan Magnussen scored the team's first American Le Mans Series victory of the season. Gavin and Magnussen won the GT class by 4.4 seconds in their No. 4 Compuware Corvette C6.R over the Ferrari 458 Italia of Jaime Melo and Toni Vilander. Tommy Milner and Olivier Beretta finished sixth in the No. 3 Compuware Corvette C6.R after contact with a backmarker cost them valuable time on the high-speed Canadian circuit.
After qualifying sixth and eighth on Saturday, Corvette Racing rebounded with a strong race day setup that ultimately broke BMW's three-race winning streak. The two-hour, 45-minute race was anything but predictable as spins, crashes, close calls and penalties added to the drama.
To pull a win from where we were after qualifying is just fantastic.
"We had a team meeting after qualifying and agreed that we all just needed to do our jobs because anything can happen," said team manager Gary Pratt. "The crew made great pit stops, the drivers made smart decisions, the engineers made good calls, and here we are with a victory. You have to be able to take advantage of opportunities, you have to be able to close the deal, and today we did."
Gavin and Milner were the starting drivers, and slotted into sixth and eighth respectively as the race began. The running order changed dramatically after the first round of pit stops under a full-course caution, as Gavin emerged in third after two cars were penalized. When the second-place Porsche went off track shortly after the one-hour mark, Gavin moved into second and began an extended battle with Vilander in the Risi Competizione Ferrari.
"We started coming on these big clumps of traffic, and things started getting crazy," Gavin said. "I had this mad battle with Toni, where he passed me going into Turn 2 and then he went around the outside of a GTC car. I managed to undercut them both and come back around the outside into Turn 3 – it was fantastic racing!"
Contact with the Ferrari in Moss Corner punctured a tire, and the crew scrambled as Gavin dove into the pits with one hour and four minutes to go. Magnussen took over the No. 4 Corvette and emerged in third. The Dane passed the Ferrari with 30 minutes to go, and then took the lead with 20 minutes remaining when the leading No. 55 BMW driven by Dirk Werner was assessed a stop-and-go penalty for avoidable contact.
"I knew that for us to get a good result out of this race, we had to be 100 percent focused every second," Magnussen said. "We could never relax, just push all the time. To pull a win from where we were after qualifying is just fantastic. These guys have done it before and they'll do it again – you can never count Corvette Racing out. The way this team pushes, I'm so proud to be part of it."
Gavin agreed: "The team won this race," said the Englishman. "We got our first win on the board and we've broken BMW's stranglehold on ALMS victories this year. I'm absolutely delighted!"
The No. 4 Corvette's second pit stop proved pivotal. "We had 10 seconds for everyone to get ready," said crew chief Brian Hoye. "The guys know what to do and they were ready to go. We knocked out a quick stop, kept the car in contention, and we ended up with a victory. We used every session to make the car the best it could be for the race, and it turned out be a spectacular result."
The No. 3 Corvette was less fortunate today as contact with the No. 11 Porsche GTC and a resulting spin took them out of contention. Milner had executed a series of passes to pull the No. 3 up to fourth place before the accident.
"The No. 3 Corvette was really, really good, the best I've driven all year long," said Milner. "My spot today was Turn 5, where a lot of people were getting held up in traffic and I was able to get underneath them entering 5B. It's a pretty safe spot to pass, and you can rub fenders there without it being an issue. I got a number of passes done there, but then we had that contact in Turn 10. Unfortunately we have a few drivers who need more seat time, especially running with other class cars. I gave him a lot of room going into 9, but he wanted to race me. The result was I got spun out."
The contact damaged the Corvette's left-rear suspension and an extended pit stop dropped the No. 3 off the lead lap. Beretta drove the last 62 minutes to secure sixth for the Le Mans-winning Corvette.
"It's a good win for the No. 4 Corvette and good for the whole team," Beretta said. "Tommy did a very good job, we were just unlucky to be touched by a gentleman driver and that was the end of our race. I was hoping for a yellow to close up the field, but it didn't come, so I just brought the car home."
Corvette Racing celebrated its ninth win at Mosport and captured the Michelin Green X Challenge as the fastest, cleanest, and most efficient entry in the GT class.
"As the inaugural winner of the Michelin Green X Challenge, it's always an honor when Corvette Racing collects one of these trophies," said Corvette Racing program manager Doug Fehan. "It's a testament to how hard our engine group, our chassis group, and our aero group have worked to maximize the efficiency of the Corvette. It's also a testament to Chevrolet's willingness to race with cellulosic E85, and as the world's largest producer of flex-fuel vehicles, it's only appropriate that the Chevrolet team won the Green X Challenge today."
ESPN2 will televise the Grand Prix of Mosport tonight at 10 p.m. ET. Corvette Racing’s next event is the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Challenge in Lexington, Ohio, on Saturday, August 6, starting at 3:30 p.m. ET. Live video coverage will available on ESPN3.com in the US and americanlemans.com for international users. ESPN2 will televise the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Challenge on Sunday, August 7, at 10 p.m. ET.
By: gm/corvete racing