Corvette Racing victorious at the Grand Prix of Mosport Teammates Fellows and O'Connell post third consecutive GTS victory at Canadian track Bowmanville, Ontario -- The General Motors Chevrolet Corvette Racing team claimed a dramatic GTS ...
Corvette Racing victorious at the Grand Prix of
Teammates Fellows and O'Connell post third consecutive GTS victory at Canadian track
Bowmanville, Ontario -- The General Motors Chevrolet Corvette Racing team claimed a dramatic GTS class victory at the Toronto Grand Prix of Mosport on Sunday afternoon in Bowmanville, Ontario. Ron Fellows and Johnny O'Connell, driving the #3 Compuware Corvette C5-R, collected the victory after starting the race from the third position in class and 12th overall on the 33-car grid. The drivers recorded their sixteenth career victory together and third consecutive GTS class win at Mosport. The victory maintains Corvette's winning streak in the GTS class of the American Le Mans Series for 2003.
"Today's victory really shows why this is a first-class racing team," said Harry Turner, GM's Group Manager for Road Racing. "Track position is key at this circuit and the crew on the #3 Corvette did a fantastic job to get Johnny out in front of the pack. The competition is so tough in this series and it only makes us work harder. We expect quite a fight until the end of the year and we'll work hard to be ready for next weekend at Road America."
The Corvette Racing team ran quickly from the start of the weekend, consistently posting the fastest times in test and practice sessions; Chevrolet factory driver Oliver Gavin, in the #4 Compuware Corvette C5-R, shattered the qualifying record by over one second and a half on Saturday afternoon with his time of 1:14:417. Gavin and teammate Kelly Collins started Sunday's race from the first position in class, ninth overall, and were leading with a healthy margin until lap 24, when the Briton left the course to avoid making contact with a slower Porsche GT car. Gavin hit the wall at Turn 4 but sustained no injuries; unfortunately the team was forced to retire his #4 Corvette after what had been a record-setting weekend. >From that point on, the #3 Corvette C5-R crept through the pack and gained significant time on the leading Ferraris.
A crucial pit stop under caution on lap 65 changed the race: the hard-working Corvette crew brought Fellows into the pits and had O'Connell out with fresh tires and fuel in record time, beating both Ferraris out of pit lane and effectively securing the lead in the GTS class. O'Connell proved why he's won in four out of five ALMS races at Mosport as he masterfully held off his competitors and claimed the victory for Corvette.
"What a victory for Corvette and I must say it was one of the most difficult victories we've had here," said O'Connell. "We were able to keep the gap I needed throughout the course of my driver stint but the last few laps were a bit tricky. The guys on the crew won this thing for us in the pit lane and I tried to put some distance between myself and the other GTS cars in my first five laps out of the pits. Ron and I love driving here and this is a great win for us."
Native Toronto resident and Chevrolet factory driver Ron Fellows posted fast laps during his double-stint in the beginning of the race. Fellows has driven thousands of miles at Mosport, a circuit located less than an hour from his front door and the place where he saw his first automobile race at the age of nine.
"Track position is always such a key factor here and that was the story again today," said Fellows. "We have such a great crew and they gave us that advantage and Johnny capitalized on it. It's tough to win at home but I wouldn't want it any other way."
The drivers from the #4 Corvette, which captured pole position and led the GTS class until their unfortunate accident, were philosophical after an early end to their afternoon.
"We had a great race going until I ran into some problems with a few slower GT cars," said Gavin. "As I approached Turn 4 I attempted to pass both of them but one of the cars braked a bit early and I ran wide to avoid making contact. I got a bit wide and was unable to get back on the pavement, running sideways into the tire barrier. The car was damaged significantly as I left the track at over 130 mph but I feel fine -- I think it shows how well these Corvettes are designed that I'm able to walk away from this accident with no injuries. Kelly and I will be back prepared for battle next weekend in Wisconsin."
The Corvette Racing team will take to the track again in one week's time, for Round 6 of the American Le Mans Series at the Road America 500 in Elkhart Lake, Wis.