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Corvette Racing Celebrates 50th Victory

by Keith Cornett on July 23, 2006

Olivier Beretta and Oliver Gavin delivered Corvette Racing their 50th triumph in international road racing with a dominant lights-to-flag victory at Portland, the sixth round of the American Le Mans Series. It was also Gavin and Beretta’s fifth GT1 win of the year to giving the British and Monagasque duo a 12 point lead over Aston Martin’s Darren Turner and Tomas Enge who had to settle for second place on a day when temperatures reached record levels. “It’s fantastic to be part of Corvette’s 50th victory,” said Gavin. “The car was fantastic and the Michelin tires stood up extremely well under very hot conditions. We just managed everything as best we could and slowly eked out a lead. It was a hard fought battle in very difficult circumstances.” Corvette Racing’s milestone 50th win came as Chevrolet is celebrating Corvette’s 50th anniversary in international road racing. Corvette Racing’s resume includes 44 victories in the American Le Mans Series, five wins in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and a victory in the Rolex 24 at Daytona. “This one felt like it was 150 degrees,” said Corvette Racing program manager Doug Fehan. “We had cloud cover all day, and then just before the start the sun came out and superheated everything. The drivers did a magnificent job under adverse conditions, and their fitness levels paid off. It was a real dogfight with a great competitor, and fortunately we prevailed. Any time you get two cars on the podium, you’ve had a good day.” Beretta drove the first and third stints in the two-hour, 45-minute race. He had to contend with a malfunctioning air conditioner in the hottest part of the day. “I was trying very hard to keep the lead, and the Aston Martin was putting a lot of pressure on us,” said Beretta. “This was an amazing race, and this team is unbelievable. Corvette Racing never gives up.” Beretta qualified on the GT1 pole, and took the lead at the green flag. At 31 minutes into the race, the No. 009 Aston Martin made an unscheduled pit stop and subsequently received a stop-and-go penalty for a pit infraction. Beretta then came under pressure from the No. 007 Aston Martin. A full-course caution at the 50-minute mark signalled a round of pit stops and driver changes. Quick work by the Corvette crew put the C6.Rs first and second when the green flag flew at 1:05 into the race. The No. 007 Aston Martin regained second place as the final pit stops took place with 30 minutes remaining. “That was without a doubt the most physically demanding battle we’ve ever had,” said O’Connell, who drove the second stint in the No. 3 Corvette C6.R. “Unfortunately our air conditioner wasn’t working, and it was very difficult to breathe. It was very hard work, and we pushed very hard. “There are times when you want to quit, but you can’t because you know the team is pulling for you. Third place isn’t the result that Ron and I wanted, but sometimes you get those.”
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