Road Atlanta II: GM Racing practice report

Bowtie Bullet Points: Chevy notes for Petit Le Mans Corvette fastest in Thursday practice After three official practice sessions before the 1,000-mile Petit Le Mans, Corvette has proven to be the fastest GTS competitor. Oliver Gavin, driving the...

Bowtie Bullet Points: Chevy notes for Petit Le Mans
Corvette fastest in Thursday practice

After three official practice sessions before the 1,000-mile Petit Le Mans, Corvette has proven to be the fastest GTS competitor. Oliver Gavin, driving the #4 Compuware Corvette C5-R, recorded a time of 1:19:206 during morning practice on Thursday. The Briton's lap eclipses Corvette's previous 2003 qualifying time at Road Atlanta, set during Round 2 of the ALMS in June, by nearly two seconds. "Our new chassis is quite good on this circuit, particularly through high speed corners such as turn twelve and one," said Gavin. "We have our cars pretty much where we want them." The Corvette Racing team takes to the track Friday morning for a practice session before qualifying begins at 2:20 p.m.

Petit in Name Only

Millions of Corvette enthusiasts and owners worldwide will focus their attention on Georgia this weekend for what has, in only six years, become one of the most important sports car races in the world: Petit Le Mans. The ALMS series finale has been the sight of great moments in the history of the Corvette C5-R and this year's contest promises to be not without its share of excitement. With manufacturers' and team championships on the line, the bowtie marque will shoot for the top spot on the GTS podium as the four regular Corvette drivers are joined by Franck Freon and Andy Pilgrim, their long-distance counterparts. The picturesque Road Atlanta course, a favorite of Corvette drivers for years, is the site of the team's second ever victory. Claimed at Petit Le Mans in September of 2000, the victory was arguably the team's most dramatic of the season. After racing nearly 1,000 miles and a little over 9 hours, it took a daring pass of the #92 Dodge Viper by Andy Pilgrim in the #4 Corvette C5-R to claim the win. The "Pilgrim Pass" remains one of the most significant moments in the history of the Corvette.

We've Been Here Before

Corvette Racing has won the past four events at Road Atlanta and also holds the all-time GTS qualifying record at the track, which was set by Ron Fellows in 2000 with a record time of 1:18.632. Oliver Gavin and Kelly Collins, driving the #4 Corvette C5-R, recorded an impressive victory at the Chevy Grand Prix at Road Atlanta earlier this year, on the very same weekend as Corvette celebrated its 50th Anniversary. After starting from the second position in the GTS field, the #4 Corvette C5-R lost position on the first lap of the race after a stalled prototype car caused traffic on the grid. Kelly Collins displayed great skill as he passed both Ferraris and took the lead from the #3 Corvette C5-R after just 24 minutes into the race. Oliver Gavin took over near the one-hour mark and held position for the victory, the pair's first as teammates.

New Chassis for Gavin, Collins and Pilgrim

Drivers of the #4 Corvette C5-R will drive a young chassis, #010, at this weekend's season finale; after an accident during the previous round in Miami, the team was forced to withdraw chassis #008 and call their test car into competition for this weekend's race. The new car was built to the same specifications as the #3 Corvette C5-R. The team's tenth chassis saw action earlier this season at the Road America 500, where Oliver Gavin shattered the circuit's qualifying record by nearly two seconds.

Corvette Leads ALMS Point Standings

With five GTS victories to date in the American Le Mans Series in 2003, the factory-backed Chevrolet team is on the brink of capturing a third consecutive manufacturers' crown; Corvette has to finish in the third position in class to clinch the title. Drivers Ron Fellows and Johnny O'Connell go into this weekend's Petit Le Mans with the GTS drivers' title locked, while Oliver Gavin and Kelly Collins, driving the #4 Corvette C5-R along with Andy Pilgrim, hope to protect their second position in the drivers' standings with an impressive showing on Saturday.

GM Racing Takes Checkered Flag Worldwide

With motorsport championships coming to a close worldwide in October and November, GM Racing is putting the cap on a very successful year. Along with an ALMS drivers' championship for Corvette aces Ron Fellows and Johnny O'Connell and pending team and manufacturers' titles, GM Racing notched high marks in other motorsport series as well. Pontiac driver Greg Anderson clinched the 2003 NHRA Pro Stock championship and provided the brand with its 123rd all-time Pro Stock victory and the Manufacturers' Cup; Larry Dixon secured the NHRA Top Fuel championship for Chevrolet. In NHRA Sport Compact Pro FWD, Nelson Hoyos won the title driving his Ecotec-powered Chevrolet Cavalier. In NASCAR Winston Cup, Chevrolet is currently at the top of the manufacturer standings after posting 15 victories to date. Across the pond, the factory-backed Vauxhall VX Racing team clinched the manufacturers', teams', and drivers' titles in the British Touring Car Championship for a record third year in a row. The ultra-successful Vauxhall program has announced a works presence for an unprecedented sixteenth consecutive year in 2004, proving GM's excellence in racing production-based cars.

Road Atlanta Facts

Road Atlanta, located in Braselton just north of Atlanta, was built in 1970 and became part of the Panoz Motor Sports Group in 1996. The 12-turn, 2.54-mile course has a high point of 1,015 feet above sea level (Turn 12) and a low point at 900 feet above sea level (Esses, Turns 3 - 5).

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About this article
Series ALMS
Drivers Larry Dixon , Greg Anderson , Ron Fellows , Johnny O'Connell , Franck Freon , Andy Pilgrim , Kelly Collins , Oliver Gavin
Teams Corvette Racing