Corvette maintains ALMS Championship lead after Laguna Seca Chevrolet factory drivers record team's 35th consecutive podium finish Monterey, Calif. The General Motors Chevrolet Corvette Racing team maintained its position on top of the ...
Corvette maintains ALMS Championship lead after Laguna Seca
Chevrolet factory drivers record team's 35th consecutive podium finish
Monterey, Calif. The General Motors Chevrolet Corvette Racing team maintained its position on top of the American Le Mans Series Championship after a podium finish in the Monterey Sports Car Championships. Ron Fellows and Johnny O'Connell, driving the #3 Compuware Corvette C5-R, finished second in the GTS class, eight overall, after two hours and 45 minutes of racing at Laguna Seca. Oliver Gavin and Kelly Collins, in the sister #4 Compuware Corvette C5-R, finish third in class, ninth overall. The podium result maintains Corvette's position at the top of the manufacturer, team and driver championships in the GTS class of the ALMS for 2003.
"We continue to learn from this race track," said Harry Turner, GM's group manager for Road Racing. "There are some areas where we'd like to improve and our intent is to simulate those as best as we can. Without the opportunity to test at this track due to noise regulations in the area, it's difficult to guess how our new cars and new tire package will react. We'll go to work and come back next year prepared to fight back."
After starting the weekend posting significantly faster lap times than last year's performance at the track, the Corvette team seemed poised to make history; the Corvette C5-R has never recorded a victory at Laguna Seca. After the green flag dropped both Corvettes were caught up in the congestion of an accident at Turn 2, with Oliver Gavin taking a wide line in his #4 Corvette and losing several positions in the process. From that point on the Corvettes fought to challenge the leading Ferraris but, in the end, secured the third and fourth positions from which they qualified. After the checkered flag dropped, the winning #88 Prodrive Ferrari 550M was disqualified after failing to pass technical inspection; the ruling moved both Corvettes up into the second and third places in class.
"We usually have the perfect performance package at every track that we go to but this one has always been a challenge for us," said Doug Fehan, GM's program manager for Corvette Racing. "We did run a very clean race, with great pit work and fuel strategy, but it wasn't enough for the victory today."
Ron Fellows, who started Sunday's race from the fourth position in class and finished second, noted the significant gains the team achieved in terms of chassis development.
"This is the best balance Johnny and I have ever had in Monterey," said Fellows. "We could have benefited from more grip, but we have to be happy with our progress compared to last year. We're happy to pick up more points for the championship and we're looking forward to Miami."
Oliver Gavin, in the #4 Corvette C5-R, raced for the very first time at the 2.238-mile circuit. The third place finish was an unfortunate result for Gavin and teammate Kelly Collins, but the duo are still within reach of the ALMS drivers' championship.
"Kelly and I were hoping for a better result today and we're disappointed," said Gavin. "What we can take away from today is that the crew ran flawlessly during our pit stops and the chassis felt very good. We just didn't have luck on our side but we'll put this one behind us and battle back for more points in the next round."
The Corvette Racing team will take to the track again in three week's time, for Round 8 of the American Le Mans Series in Miami, Florida.