Sears Point: Round five preview

AS SUMMER HEATS UP, SO DO LE MANS WINNERS BERETTA, GAVIN Olivier Beretta and Oliver Gavin have won GT1 titles in Corvette Racing's last two events: Le Mans and the New England Grand Prix. Braselton, Ga. - It was only a matter of time. They...

AS SUMMER HEATS UP, SO DO LE MANS WINNERS BERETTA, GAVIN

Olivier Beretta and Oliver Gavin have won GT1 titles in Corvette Racing's last two events: Le Mans and the New England Grand Prix.

Braselton, Ga. - It was only a matter of time. They were strongest at Mid-Ohio and won for the second straight year at Le Mans. Now it looks like Olivier Beretta and Oliver Gavin may be getting on the kind of roll their teammates are used to.

With their first victory of the 2005 American Le Mans Series season at the New England Grand Prix, Beretta and Gavin are looking for their second straight ALMS victory at the Infineon Technologies Grand Prix of Sonoma, Presented by Ravenswood Winery. It's a track where the two have done fairly well.

Beretta, from Monoco, pulled a hat trick of sorts in 1999 by winning the GT1 class, posting the GT1 fast lap and taking the class pole. England's Gavin sat on the GT1 pole in 2003 and '04 and posted the fastest GT1 race lap last year in the pair's No. 4 Corvette. Now they're rolling into Infineon with their new Corvette C6-R and plenty of momentum.

"We'll try to win for sure," Beretta said. "Infineon always has been a good track for me, whether it has been with the Corvette or with the Viper. It's very fast and very strong. We know how to win. Hopefully we will have no problem."

There have been very little problems for the Gavin-Beretta duo lately. They both said winning their second straight GT1 victory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans about a month ago was a springboard of sorts into a critical July stretch that sees three ALMS races in the span of five weeks. Already, it's one race down for Gavin and Beretta.

Oliver Gavin and Olivier Beretta celebrate their GT1 class victory at Lime Rock, their first win in the No. 4 Corvette Racing C6-R.

"Le Mans is the biggest race of the year. If you're going to win any race, that's the one we all want to win," Gavin said. "Everybody at Corvette Racing was working for that victory, whether on the No. 3 car or No. 4 car. Every race that Olivier and I go into, we want to win. Ultimately we want to make sure a Corvette wins. That's the most important thing for the whole program. We were a little frustrated with one or two things not going our way earlier. As the season continues, we'll come away with a few more victories."

Ron Fellows and Johnny O'Connell, who drive the No. 3 Corvette Racing C6-R, receive much of the spotlight and attention with their combined 46 career ALMS victories and 109 career starts. But the toughest obstacle standing in the way of their fifth straight class title at Infineon may be their teammates in the No. 4 Corvette.

"They had Sebring covered and had an incident with a slower car that probably took victory away from them. At Atlanta and Mid-Ohio, they certainly were very close," Fellows said. "Those guys did an absolutely terrific job at Le Mans. They were a little bit quicker than us, and that proved to be the difference."

Gavin and Beretta have been fastest at each ALMS race except the Grand Prix of Atlanta. Gavin started from the class pole at Sebring, having posted the fastest time in the week's practice session (qualifying was rained out). He also qualified on the pole at Mid-Ohio and posted the fastest race lap there. Beretta turned the trick at Lime Rock, winning his 15th career pole and recording his 16th career fast lap, both tops in ALMS history.

The No. 4 Corvette Racing C6-R of Oliver Gavin and Olivier Beretta have finished on the GT1 podium at each ALMS race this year.

But at Atlanta and Mid-Ohio, they were second to Fellows and O'Connell. Gavin and Beretta finished sixth overall and third in class at Sebring, 15 laps behind the winning Aston Martin DBR9.

"That is the game. That is racing," Beretta said. "Sometimes you have luck, sometimes you don't. The main thing is that Corvettes win the race when we are on the track."

That has been the case at three of the four ALMS races this year. Heading into Infineon, Corvette Racing is well ahead in the team GT1 standings. Fellows and O'Connell are 6 points ahead of Gavin and Beretta in the driver's championship standings.

"We're coming into Sonoma knowing we were leading last year and have done well there. It's quite a slick track at times. It does slip and slide across the surface. The grip you do have, you need to maximize," Gavin said. "That's one of the great things about the Corvette. You can dial it in and get more grip than any other car out there. We're going in thinking we have a good base setup. It's always a challenging place to go because it's quite sandy and dusty. It can affect the way certain corners are. You sometimes have to be extremely patient there. All in all, it's a real challenge and one of the great circuits we go to."

The Infineon Technologies Grand Prix of Sonoma presented by Ravenswood Winery, Round 5 of the 2005 ALMS, is set for 11 a.m. PDT on July 17 at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif. CBS Sports will have television coverage from 3 to 5 p.m. EDT. American Le Mans Radio and Live Timing and Scoring can be found at www.americanlemans.com.

-www.americanlemans.com

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series ALMS
Drivers Ron Fellows , Johnny O'Connell , Oliver Gavin , Olivier Beretta
Teams Corvette Racing