The #3 Corvette C6.R piloted by Johnny O’Connell, Jan Magnussen and Ron Fellows finished first in class to win the 1,000-mile/10-hour Petit Le Mans on Saturday. The Corvette completed 365 laps of the 2.54-mile road course and finished 6 laps ahead of their teammates in the #4 Corvette. The #3 Corvette C6.R also won the inaugural ALMS Green Challenge, beating all GT1 and GT2 cars in this race-in-a-race based on performance, fuel efficiency and environmental impact.
The Corvette Racing team put a lot of emphasis in winning the Green Challenge. The Corvettes are powered by cellulosic E85 ethanol made from waste wood from a national forest. The #3 Corvette C6.R’s score of 20.391 was the lowest in the GT class. The #007 Aston Martin running in the GT2 class was second with the #4 Corvette C6.R third.
“Going into the second half of the season, Corvette Racing’s goal was to win the first Green Challenge,” said Steve Wesoloski, GM Racing Road Racing Group manager. “Winning the Green Challenge with the best score among both GT cars and Prototypes was a team effort that combined the expertise of GM Powertrain, our engine supplier Katech, and Pratt & Miller Engineering.
“It’s not just about making the engine more efficient and more environmentally friendly,” Wesoloski explained. “We looked at things like reducing wheel bearing friction and aerodynamic drag to win the Green Challenge. Alternative renewable fuels are an important part of GM’s gas-friendly to gas-free program, and GM already has more E85-compatible vehicles on the road than any other manufacturer. Green Racing ties in with what the corporation is doing in production vehicles. We’re developing the technology to improve both efficiency and performance, and we’re proving it on the race track.”
The race did have its moments of drama for the team. Oliver Gavin was driving the #4 Corvette C6.R at the 5:43 mark when the throttle linkage malfunctioned coming out of turn 7. Gavin was able to nurse the Corvette back to pit lane by running at idle. The crew was able to fix the issue and 9 minutes later the Corvette was back to running at full speed.
“The fact that the Corvette C6.R engine has so much torque enabled me to get back to the pits,” said Gavin. “Otherwise the hills here at Road Atlanta would have left me stuck out on the track. It was dicey because I had to drive the entire length of the straight with the engine on idle. I was staring in the mirror to make sure I wouldn’t get in anyone’s way – I was going about 25 mph, and they were passing me at 180!”
Corvette Racingâ€™s next event is the Monterey Sports Car Challenge, the season finale of the 2008 American Le Mans Series, at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, Calif., on Saturday, October 18. The four-hour race is scheduled to start at 2:45 p.m. PDT. NBC will televise the race tape-delayed at 2 – 4 p.m. ET on Sunday, October 19.
Bondurant School of High Performance Driving