PORTLAND - The General Motors Chevrolet Corvette Racing team won the GTS class in Round 5 of the American Le Mans Series at Portland International Raceway on Sunday. Ron Fellows and Johnny O'Connell drove the ...
PORTLAND - The General Motors Chevrolet Corvette Racing team won the GTS class in Round 5 of the American Le Mans Series at Portland International Raceway on Sunday. Ron Fellows and Johnny O'Connell drove the #3 Compuware Corvette C5-R to victory in the GTS class, third overall. Oliver Gavin and Olivier Beretta finished second in class, two laps behind. The win continues Corvette's undefeated streak in the 2004 season.
"With the adverse weather conditions and the change in temperature, this was a difficult environment for setup," said Harry Turner, GM's group manager for road racing. "Right up to qualifying on Saturday we were improving our performance and that kind of hard work is very impressive. By the time we hit the track we had the absolute best product from the absolute best team. This is another great day for Corvette and Chevrolet."
After qualifying 1-2, the Corvettes secured the top two positions on the start, with Olivier Beretta taking the lead in the #4 Corvette C5-R over Ron Fellows in the #3 Corvette C5-R. After pit stops for both cars, including fuel and tires, Johnny O'Connell took the lead on lap 57 after Oliver Gavin came in for an unscheduled pit stop for a front right tire change. The #4 Corvette C5-R had an action-packed race, making contact with a prototype before pit lane as Oliver Gavin was coming in for a stop-and-go penalty, which resulted from an earlier incident with a different car. Later on, Gavin brought his car back to the pits again for repairs to the front right section of his nose. All the while, the #3 Corvette ran a trouble-free race and ALMS co-champions Fellows and O'Connell won their fourth race of 2004.
"Today is my son's birthday and I wanted to push hard to get a win for him," said O'Connell. "The team made a great call in between our first and second stints to change our tire pressures a bit and it seemed to do the trick. Sunday just seems to be our day."
After capturing the pole position, the #4 Corvette team appeared to be on pace for victory until a series of unfortunate incidents put them back as low as fourth in class. They were able to claw back to second place, where they remained until the finish.
"The car was fantastic today but our luck was not," said Beretta. "We were very quick all weekend and the crew worked very hard. At the end of the day it was another great 1-2 finish for Corvette and for that I am happy."
Ron Fellows left the track immediately after the podium festivities. The Canadian road racing expert will travel via airplane to Watkins Glen, NY for a NASCAR Nextel Cup test on Monday with Dale Earnhardt, Inc. Fellows is set to drive the #1 Chevrolet Monte Carlo at Watkins Glen on August 15.
The Corvette Racing team will return to the track on August 6 at Mosport International Raceway in Bowmanville, Ontario.