Just because there are no other teams competing in the ALMS GT1 class doesn’t mean there’s no competition for Corvette Racing. Taking a line from an old joke, I was watching a fight over the weekend when a race broke out. The GT1 class is all about the win, and according to Jan Magnussen “If you aren’t first, your last”. Magnussen and co-driver Johnny O’Connell extended their win steak to four in a row and fifth for the season by taking the checkered flag at Saturday’s Mid-Ohio Acura Sports Car Challenge. But the win wasn’t easy as our video recap shows.
It was at the two hour mark that the race for the flag really began. During a yellow caution period, both the #3 and #4 C6.R Corvettes entered pit row together for fuel, tires and a drivers change. With O’Connell in the #3 Corvette and Beretta in the #4 car, both Corvettes dropped and left their stalls simultaneously and a bit of fender rubbing occurred as the Corvettes went door to door, blowing through a red flag at the pit exit lane with Beretta finally getting out in front. The shenanigans on pit road were not appreciated by the officiating crew and both cars were sent to the penalty box for 2 minutes and thirty seconds.
“We are a very competitive group,” said O’Connell after tallying his 33rd career ALMS victory. “Both cars left at the same time and it was like the Hatfields and McCoys for a moment with two guys arguing for the same area of road. It was just two great race cars today running in very difficult conditions.”
After leaving the Penalty area, O’Connell was able to pass Beretta but both Corvettes were again summoned to the penalty box where they sat for five minutes for what officials called “taking unjustifiable risks”.
“A prototype drew down inside of him and he went wide,” O’Connell recalled. “I was on the proper line and my momentum carried me by. He was just gathering it up, but there was a gaggle of prototypes doing battle and it was chaotic.”
O’Connell maintained the lead and finished first in class. The win gives Magnussen and O’Connell 126 points for the Championship cup while Gavin and Beretta are 16 points back with 110.
“Who says you need more than two cars in a class to have exciting racing?” asked Corvette Racing program manager Doug Fehan. “I think what we saw today are two cars that are separated by thousandths of a second on the race track and separated by thousandths of a second in pit lane. Each of them is trying to win. I think it was exciting for the fans, and it was certainly exciting for us in the pits. It’s hard to deny the intramural rivalry that exists, and we saw two guys racing hard and getting caught up in the heat of the moment. We’ll all learn a lesson from today’s race.”
Corvette Racing will head to Road America for the Generac 500 in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin on August 9th at 4pm CDT. SPEED will televise the race tape-delayed on Sunday, Aug. 10, at 2 p.m. EDT.
Bondurant School of High Performance Driving