MONTEREY, Calif. (October 10, 2000) -- Olivier Beretta is one of the most accomplished road racing drivers in the world and has enjoyed tremendous success over the last 18 months on the American Le Mans Series. As a racer, Beretta certainly...
MONTEREY, Calif. (October 10, 2000) -- Olivier Beretta is one of the most accomplished road racing drivers in the world and has enjoyed tremendous success over the last 18 months on the American Le Mans Series.
As a racer, Beretta certainly isn't backing down from the challenge that he and other members of Dodge Viper Team ORECA will face in Sunday's GlobalCenter Sports Car Championships presented by Honda at Laguna Seca Raceway. That challenge will come in the form of a couple of bright yellow Chevrolet Corvettes.
American race fans love rivalries between American cars, and there's no hotter battle right now in sports car racing than Dodge vs. Chevrolet in the GTS class of the American Le Mans Series. Since joining the series in 1999, the red Vipers have won 13 of 15 races, including 12 consecutive at one stretch.
But that dominance came to an end in early September at Texas Motor Speedway when Corvette scored its first victory. Viper won again at Portland the next week, but Corvette made it two out of three by winning the GTS class in the Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta, the most recent ALMS race.
Now the two rival manufacturers will square off on the historic Laguna Seca circuit, a 2.238-mile layout that challenges drivers and machines. The competition in the GTS class will get even tougher with the addition of the new American-built Saleen S7, with road racing standout Tommy Kendall as one of the drivers.
"I am very happy that they are there," Beretta said of the rival manufacturers. "It is always better to have competition next to you to give you a hard time. The motivation for us is a lot higher."
Beretta, who has Formula One racing experience, and co-driver Karl Wendlinger looked to have the better of the Corvettes at Road Atlanta until experiencing mechanical problems, but that is one of the aspects of endurance racing. As it was, it took a thrilling, last-lap pass by Corvette driver Andy Pilgrim of Viper driver Tommy Archer to secure the win for Corvette.
"It was a great fight between the two cars," Beretta said. "The Corvette is now up to a good level, and the Viper has been at that level for a long time. I am confident for Laguna."
Beretta, a resident of Monaco, has competed at Laguna Seca twice in FIA GT cars, as well as last year in the ALMS, when he and Wendlinger were GTS winners.
"I like to go to Laguna," he said. "I think that is one of the best circuits in America for the ALMS. The Corkscrew is a very special corner and not like anything that we have in Europe. It is a nice area and I like the people."
The ALMS will run a two-hour, 45-minute race on Sunday. The race will be televised live by Speedvision beginning at 3 p.m. (U.S. Eastern time), and will also be televised live by Eurosport. In addition, the ALMS Radio Web will have live coverage online at www.americanlemans.com.
Ticket information for the event can be found online at www.laguna-seca.com, or by calling 1-800-327-SECA.