Gavin/Beretta/Magnussen Hold Narrow Lead Over Fellows/O'Connell/Papis at Halfway Point of 12-Hour Race SEBRING, Fla., March 17, 2006 - At the halfway point of the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, Corvette Racing's twin C6.R race cars...
Gavin/Beretta/Magnussen Hold Narrow Lead Over Fellows/O'Connell/Papis at Halfway Point of 12-Hour Race
SEBRING, Fla., March 17, 2006 - At the halfway point of the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, Corvette Racing's twin C6.R race cars were running first and second in the GT1 class and fourth and fifth overall. Then one minute into the second half of the 12-hour race, the No. 3 Compuware Corvette went to the paddock with a gearbox problem.
The No. 3 Corvette Racing crew replaced the gears in the transaxle. Fellows was back in the car at 6:27 into the race, the engine was started at 6:29, and the car drove out of the paddock at 6:31 to a standing ovation by several hundred spectators who had gathered at the Corvette Racing transporter.
After six hours of racing, the No. 4 Compuware Corvette C6.R driven by Oliver Gavin, Olivier Beretta and Jan Magnussen had completed 166 laps and led the No. 3 Compuware Corvette of Ron Fellows, Johnny O'Connell and Max Papis by 1.850 seconds with the track under a full-course caution. Third in class was the No. 009 Aston Martin DBR9 of Bright/Lamy/Sarrazin, with 165 laps completed.
Gridded behind the two Aston Martin entries at the start, Fellows was third in GT1 and Gavin fourth after the first lap. Fellows moved to second in GT1 30 minutes into the race, passing the 009 Aston Martin in Turn 17, and then took the class lead from the 007 Aston Martin with another inside pass in Turn 17. One minute later, Gavin passed the 007 Aston Martin to take the No. 2 spot in the GT1 class.
After the first round of pit stops, the No. 3 Corvette was penalized for exceeding the pit lane speed limit. After a driver change in both cars, the No. 3 Corvette C6.R served a stop-and-go penalty, giving the class lead to Beretta in the No. 4 Corvette C6.R and dropping O'Connell to fourth in class, 29 seconds behind the leader. O'Connell passed Pedro Lamy in the 009 Aston Martin at 1:21 in Turn 16 to take third, and passed Tomas Enge in the 007 Aston Martin in Turn 17 at 1:33 to take second in the GT1 division.
Ron Fellows: "I left the pits and as I was going around Turn 3, it felt like the back of the car locked up. Coming around Turn 5, the rear tires locked up and I spun into the dirt. There was no fourth gear, and then it stuck in fifth."
Oliver Gavin: "This race has all the makings of a classic Sebring, very hot and very exciting. The heat is affecting the Corvettes in particular because of the extra ballast that's been added, about 120 pounds, and that's a big issue for us.
"This is the first race of the season for a lot of people so we're seeing some unusual driving out there. You have to be on your toes all the time.
"When we started off the Aston Martins were able to get away from us and got a bit of a lead. Then when their tires went off, they came back to us, and that's pretty much how it goes every stint.
"We'll have to see how things work out. Corvette is celebrating its 50th anniversary in international road racing, and we'd like to get another win 50 years on."
Olivier Beretta: "The Corvette C6.R and the Michelin tires are very good as usual. The team has been working very hard and very well together. The track conditions make the car slide because of the heat, but the team anticipated this, made the proper adjustments, and today it's paying off."