SWEET SEBRING IN THE SPRING FOR THE 'OLLIES'! Corvette Racing celebrated the marque's 50th anniversary in international road racing with a victory on Saturday at the home of US sportscar racing, Sebring International Raceway, Florida. The No. 4...
SWEET SEBRING IN THE SPRING FOR THE 'OLLIES'!
Corvette Racing celebrated the marque's 50th anniversary in international road racing with a victory on Saturday at the home of US sportscar racing, Sebring International Raceway, Florida. The No. 4 Compuware Corvette C6.R driven by Oliver Gavin, Olivier Beretta and Jan Magnussen ran like clockwork throughout the 12-hour endurance race, finishing first in the GT1 class and third overall with a one-lap margin of victory over their rivals in the No. 009 Aston Martin DBR9. GT1 Driver Champions Gavin and Beretta have now won every race in their last six starts, a streak that began in Portland in July 2005.
It was a tense and extremely close battle throughout, and a tired but jubilant Oliver reflected on his victory.
"This was the one race which we hadn't been successful at in the last two years, and even though we were really determined to show what we could do, we knew victory here is never a given. It had been a long, hard and hot week leading up to the race, and although we hadn't managed to claim pole, we knew we'd be capable of a fast and steady race pace. Our aim was to stay out of trouble and fortunately that's exactly what happened. Well, more to the point, nothing happened! Our pit stops and strategy were good, the performance of the car and drivers faultless, and we didn't hit anything. It was pretty much a faultless race for us.
"In the first half of the race we could see that it had all the makings of a classic Sebring; very hot and very exciting. This is the first race of the season for a lot of people so we saw some unusual driving out there at times. You had to be on your toes all the time.
"Because Corvette was carrying an extra 120 pounds (55kg) of ballast over the Aston Martins, we knew that weight - plus the high temperatures (over 100oF/35oC) - would have an affect on our lap times, our brake wear and brake temperatures. That turned out to be just the case and our biggest problem during the race was in the hottest section of the day when our rear brake callipers were getting very hot. We had to 'manage' that for the first half of the race, driving in a certain style which was lighter on the brakes. It proved quite a challenge but we all did it and didn't have to make any unscheduled pit stops for any reason.
"One area we didn't have to worry about was tyre wear as our Michelins performed brilliantly. We had no punctures or big drop-off in lap times which was another thing which got us the breaks over the Astons. We found that from the very start of each stint, when our tyres were cold, we could stretch the gap a bit between us and them, and again towards the end of a stint when our tyre wear had held up a good deal better than the opposition's. It was only in the middle of the stints, when the tyres were up to temperature, that the Astons were able to get away from us and get a bit of a lead. It was yo-yoing like that pretty much through the race but because everyone else had one problem or another and we didn't, we were able to cruise home to the win.
"It was the best result possible for us and the start to our 2006 Championship fight, but it was also great for everyone to see such a close race with the Astons. We really hope they'll be around for a bit longer. We now move on to a two day test at Road Atlanta which is part of our endurance preparations for Le Mans. After that our focus will be back to Houston and we'll definitely be going for another win. After all, there are more records to break. Why stop now?!"