MONTEREY, Calif., May 22, 2010 – Billed as the warm-up for the upcoming 24 Hours of Le Mans, the six-hour American Le Mans Series Monterey was contested on an unseasonably cold day in central California. With track temperatures in the low 50s, getting a grip on the roller coaster 2.238-mile Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca circuit was the chief challenge.
After a fast and furious battle in the GT class, Corvette Racing’s No. 4 Compuware Corvette C6.R driven by Oliver Gavin and Olivier Beretta finished third. The No. 3 Compuware Corvette C6.R of Jan Magnussen and Johnny O’Connell finished sixth and won the Michelin Green X Challenge in the GT category. The No. 45 Porsche driven by Patrick Long and Joerg Bergmeister won the class with a 0.365-second margin of victory over the Mueller/Hand BMW.
Both Corvettes ran at the front in the hard-fought GT division. Starting third on the GT grid, the No. 4 Compuware Corvette C6.R lost track position to its rivals on its fourth pit stop, but Gavin charged from seventh to first during his second stint. After the final round of fuel stops, Gavin was in third and within striking distance of the leader – but two late-race cautions stymied his attempts to move up in the finishing order.
“I wish that last caution hadn’t come because I think we had them,” Gavin said. “We had the speed but that last caution just killed any chance. It was great fun racing against the Porsche and the BMW – there was a bit of bumping, but it was all fair. In the back of my mind was always the thought that this car needs to go Le Mans in a few days, and any damage today could have a direct effect on how we perform there. I wanted to make sure that it would be ready to leave for France next Thursday.
“It was great to be fighting for the victory,” Gavin continued. “We still need to find that last little bit, but it will come. We got some good points today and I’m pleased about that. This championship is going to be about grabbing podiums and points whenever you can because it’s full-out racing.”
The No. 3 Corvette took the lead after the first round of pit stops, but was penalized for a pit-lane infraction after its second stop. The stop-and-go penalty dropped the car to seventh, but Magnussen was on a mission. He took the GT class lead at 4:18 and was fifth overall after a heated battle of the brands between Corvette, Ferrari, Porsche, and BMW. A punctured right-front tire in the final 20 minutes and subsequent penalty consigned the No. 3 to sixth at the checkered flag.
“It was really good racing, but it’s a shame when it goes that way towards the end and you feel all your hard work is for nothing,” Magnussen said. “It was just one of those days where it looked like we had a great shot at winning it in the beginning, and then things got in the way.”
The No. 3 Corvette won the Michelin Green X Challenge in the GT class by going the farthest, the fastest, with the least environmental impact. “Our focus at Corvette Racing is multi-faceted – to design and build top-quality race cars that are fast and that demonstrate leading-edge green technology,” said Corvette Racing program manager Doug Fehan. “Capturing another Michelin Green X Challenge title for Chevrolet and GM is a huge accomplishment.”
Corvette Racing’s next event is the 24 Hours of Le Mans at the Circuit de La Sarthe in Le Mans, France. The 24-hour race will start at 3:00 p.m. CET on Saturday, June 12. Portions of the classic endurance contest will be televised live on SPEED.
American Le Mans Series Monterey GT Results:
- Bergmeister/Long, Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, 227 laps
- Mueller/Hand, BMW E92 M3, 227
- Gavin/Beretta, Chevrolet Corvette C6.R, 227
- Melo/Bruni, Ferrari 430 GT, 225
- Sharp/van Overbeek, Ferrari 430 GT, 225
- O’Connell/Magnussen, Chevrolet Corvette C6.R, 224
- Sellers/Henzler, Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, 224
- Auberlen/Milner, BMW E92 M3, 222
- Krohn/Jonsson, Ferrari 430 GT, 220
- Robertson/Robertson/Murry, Ford GT, 215
- Law/Neiman/Bernhard, Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, 213
- Brown/Cosmo, Ferrari 430 GT, 194
- Dalziel/Goosens, Jaguar XKRS, 191
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