GT1 TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP AT FOREFRONT FOR CORVETTE RACING Braselton, Ga. - There's a race shaping up at Corvette Racing, one that could go down to the wire for the American Le Mans Series' GT1 drivers championship. All four team drivers are...
GT1 TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP AT FOREFRONT FOR CORVETTE RACING
Braselton, Ga. - There's a race shaping up at Corvette Racing, one that could go down to the wire for the American Le Mans Series' GT1 drivers championship. All four team drivers are bunched together as the ALMS enters its final stretch of four rounds.
In front are Ron Fellows and Johnny O'Connell, partners in the No. 3 Corvette C6-R, by 7 points. The two have won the last two GT1 titles, and Fellows is going for his record fourth straight class championship. The duo has won three rounds this season and placed second in class at Sebring.
Coming on strong, though, are Olivier Beretta and Oliver Gavin in the No. 4 Corvette C6-R. In addition to winning two of the last three rounds of the ALMS, they also are two-time defending class winners at Le Mans.
Yep, this one's gonna be close.
"It's always great to race against Ron and Johnny," Gavin said. "The cars are built incredibly strong and are consistent and incredibly fast. The plan for the Ollies is to keep winning. We feel we're on a roll."
By finishing 1-2 in five of the last six rounds, Corvette Racing has distanced itself from ACEMCO Motorsports in the class' team standings. Should one of the C6-Rs win at the Generac 500 at Road America and ACEMCO's Saleen finish sixth or worse, Corvette Racing would clinch its record fifth straight team championship.
"The important thing is that a Corvette wins," Beretta said. "We need to win, but the important thing is that a Corvette wins. If you look back at last year, we have been leading every race. Sometimes we have bad luck under yellow. The No. 4 car has been quick since last year and has won Le Mans twice. So it has been good."
After that is where the uncertainty lies. On one hand, O'Connell and Fellows each have an ALMS-record 24 career victories in addition to their championships.
"As close as it's been, we've had some good luck," Fellows said. "Between the brake rotor failure at Sebring that Johnny and the crew were able to recover from, and my incident at Lime Rock, it could have been devastating. Hopefully in the second half, we'll continue to be as fortunate and even a little smarter."
But Gavin (11 ALMS wins) and Beretta (20 wins) are no slouches themselves. Beretta won the GT1 title with Team ORECA in a Dodge Viper in 1999 and 2000. Plus, he and Gavin won last year at three of the four remaining tracks on the ALMS schedule.
"Doug (Fehan, GM racing program manager) always says to us to do the best you can. We know we are the best team and the best car. We have the best package," Beretta said. "He knows racing very well but doesn't ask us to do anything different. Hopefully by Atlanta we will have a good fight."
Naturally, it's hard to consider one team the favorite over the other. Sure, it could ease Corvette Racing's mind if all four drivers could share the drivers title. It's likely, however, that the math will work out like that. Instead, both teams will have their chances to win the title.
"There is one championship we share, which is the team and manufacturer championship," O'Connell said. "As a competitor, you want to compete against the other car. They motivate us and we motivate them. It's really good. All of us are quite well thought of by GM. Championships are always nice, but you have to look at the bigger picture, which is showing the fans a good show and hope it entices other teams to come in and compete."
The Generac 500 at Road America, Round 7 of the 2005 ALMS, is set for 3 p.m. EDT Aug. 21 at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wis. The race will be broadcast on SPEED Channel. Qualifying is scheduled for 2:55 p.m. EDT Aug. 20. American Le Mans Radio, and Live Timing and Scoring will be available at www.americanlemans.com.