BRASELTON, Ga. (Oct. 3) -- Two Chevrolet Corvette C5-R race cars, riding on Goodyear Eagles, proved their inaugural win in Texas was no fluke. Team Corvette made it two in a row last weekend in the American Le Mans Series with a stirring win in...
BRASELTON, Ga. (Oct. 3) -- Two Chevrolet Corvette C5-R race cars, riding on Goodyear Eagles, proved their inaugural win in Texas was no fluke.
Team Corvette made it two in a row last weekend in the American Le Mans Series with a stirring win in the series' premier race, the Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta. On Labor Day, drivers Ron Fellows and Andy Pilgrim won their first race at Texas Motor Speedway, besting Chevrolet's main rival, the Team Oreca Vipers.
While the Oreca team struggled with another manufacturer's tire performance on Texas' 120-degree track surfaces, the #3 Corvette sailed to victory on Eagle race tires.
Then at Road Atlanta on Saturday after racing nearly 1,000 miles and more than nine hours, Pilgrim in the #4 Corvette C5-R made a daring pass of the #92 Dodge Viper on the second to last lap and held on for the victory.
The #4 Corvette was driven by Pilgrim, Franck Freon and Kelly Collins.
The class win automatically qualifies the #4 Corvette for next year's 24 Hours of Le Mans. The #3 Corvette C5-R with drivers Fellows, Chris Kneifel and Justin Bell battled back from a lap-down early to finish third in the GTS class.
It was an all-Corvette front row to start the race as both the polesitting #3 car and #4 car broke the track record in qualifying.
"For Goodyear, Corvette and all the Corvette fans who came here, this is great and it's only going to get better," driver Kneifel said.
Herb Fishel, executive director of General Motors racing, said, "I'm not sure about the history, but I would have to say this is probably the biggest thing that's happened for Corvette in a number of years. This is big. Don't tell Texas, but in this case, Atlanta might be bigger."
For Goodyear, which also supplies all tires for production C5 Corvettes, including the new race-tuned Z06 Corvette, the two wins are notable. "Together, we're making history with the Corvette C5-R, and it all started with a new car at the Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona," according to Bob Shaffer, Goodyear's director of road racing programs.
"Every time General Motors' engineers made changes, we changed the tires," Shaffer said. "We built the tires to match the performance of the cars. The tires are only 12.5 inches wide, and that's not a lot to work with in a car whose top speed is close to 180 mph."
Road Atlanta actually could have been Corvette's third consecutive win. Less than a second kept Corvette from victory in a race at Mosport, Ontario. Fifteen minutes into the race, consistent drizzle forced teams to pit for rain tires. The Corvette C5-R rain tires proved superior and the #3 car led most of the race.
The track began to dry by the end of the race, and Corvette's Pilgrim stayed on the track, rather than giving up the lead and pitting for dry-track race tires. Pilgrim was passed with five minutes remaining and finished one-third of a second behind the Viper.
Doug Fehan, Corvette program manager, said, "If we're going to find a silver lining here, I think Goodyear demonstrated their absolute superiority in rain-tire technology. The Corvette was a minimum 3 seconds a lap faster than the Viper.
A month later, Corvette would be victorious in Texas; last weekend in Atlanta, they proved Texas was no fluke. "Both were big wins for us," Shaffer said. "There was a lot of engineering wrapped up in those tires. We are very proud of that success."