Red Flag Stymies Corvette Comeback in Canada
BOWMANVILLE, Ontario, Canada, Aug. 29, 2010 – After an eventful two hours and 15 minutes of racing at Mosport International Raceway, a red flag brought the Mobil 1 presents the Grand Prix of Mosport to a premature end. When the guardrail lining the high-speed Andretti Straightaway was severely damaged in an accident, officials stopped the race with 30 minutes remaining on the clock. After efforts to repair the guardrail proved futile, the race was subsequently restarted for a ceremonial final lap under caution. The No. 4 Compuware Corvette C6.R of Oliver Gavin and Jan Magnussen was fourth across the finish line in the GT class, followed by the No. 3 Corvette driven by Johnny O’Connell and Olivier Beretta.
The anticlimactic finish denied Corvette Racing a hard-earned run to the checkered flag. Both Corvettes encountered accidents and misfortune in the early going, but battled back from a one-lap deficit to rejoin the frontrunners. Just as the twin Corvettes had made their final pit stops and taken on four fresh Michelin tires for the sprint to the finish, the race was stopped for 45 minutes while the safety crew worked to repair the damaged barrier. The officials’ decision to conclude the race was then announced.
Magnussen and Beretta had a close look at the race-ending incident as the No. 48 Porsche GTC impacted the barrier and rebounded across the track directly in front of the two Corvettes. Both Corvettes narrowly missed the careening car; fortunately driver Luke Hines was uninjured.
“It was very close, and the driver can consider himself extremely lucky because had he gone another three or four feet, he would have been collected by several cars, including two Corvettes,” said Magnussen.
“I didn’t see the wreck, I only saw smoke and pieces of the car,” Beretta reported. “I was right behind Jan, and he disappeared into the smoke. Suddenly I saw red lights, I jumped on the brakes, and nearly hit him. For a few seconds we were in a dark tunnel, and then the sun came back.”
That near miss capped an incident-filled afternoon for Corvette Racing. The commotion began at the start when O’Connell had contact with the Ferrari of Scott Sharp. The impact dislodged the Corvette’s hood, and O’Connell had to pit to have it taped down. The unscheduled stop dropped the No. 3 Corvette to 13th, but O’Connell methodically regained positions and was sixth at the driver change at the one-hour mark.
“The start was extremely slow, and we all got jammed up going through Turn 9,” said O’Connell. “I got into the back of the Ferrari in front of me. At the end of the day it’s my fault, and I was angry with myself because we had such a good Corvette, one of the fastest cars out there. But the guys fixed it, and we were back in the hunt.”
Gavin started the No. 4 Corvette C6.R third on the GT grid, and quickly moved to second when he passed the No. 92 BMW. He hounded the class-leading No. 45 Porsche of Patrick Long throughout the first hour of the race. Gavin took the lead when Long pitted, and then pitted himself the following lap to hand off the car to Magnussen.
“The start was very slow, and there was oil-dry all over the track from a previous race,” said Gavin. “I managed to get around the BMW and then get right on Pat Long’s tail. After that it was the same story as Elkhart Lake – I could get close and pull alongside him, but I never had quite enough to overtake him.”
The No. 4 Corvette’s race changed dramatically minutes after the driver change when the Dyson Racing prototype hit the right front tire during an overtaking move. As Magnussen slowed on the destroyed tire, a crash on the front straight brought out a full-course yellow. Magnussen was already committed to the pits, which had been closed. The crew replaced the damaged wheel,but Magnussen then had to make another stop when the pits were opened.
“We had just done the driver change and I was starting to get up to speed,” Magnussen said. “Two prototypes passed me in the middle of Turn 1. The first car got by cleanly, but the second hit my tire. I came in, the pits were closed, the crew changed the tire, then I had to come back in for three more.”The two Corvettes were on the lead lap during the final caution period and were in position to challenge the leaders when the race was halted. The E85 ethanol-powered No. 4 Corvette won the Michelin Green X Challenge in the GT category by going the farthest, the fastest, with the smallest environmental impact.
“After all of that, I was a lap down, but right behind the leader,” he said. “I passed him and got my lap back, which was really fantastic. I had a great race car and I could have been fighting for a win.”
“The axiom that we have lived by for many years applies today,” said Corvette Racing program manager Doug Fehan. “Success in racing requires 25 percent great car, 25 percent great team, and 50 percent good luck. We’ve got the first two handled, but we haven’t been able to get any good fortune. We had two cars that were good enough to win today, and after all that happened, they still had a shot to win it at the end. The premature end to the race was heartbreaking.”
Corvette Racing’s next event is the season-ending ALMS Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta in Braselton, Ga. The 10-hour/1,000-mile race will start at 11:15 a.m. ET on Saturday, October 2. The race will be televised live on SPEED from 11:00 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. ET. Live radio coverage will be available on American Le Mans Radio, Sirius Channel 127, and XM Channel 242.
Mobil 1 presents the Grand Prix of Mosport GT Results:
- Bergmeister/Long, Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, 92
- Vilander/Bruni, Ferrari 430 GT, 92
- Auberlen/Milner, BMW M3 GT, 92
- Gavin/Magnussen, Chevrolet Corvette C6.R, 92
- Beretta/O’Connell, Chevrolet Corvette C6.R, 92
- Sharp/van Overbeek, Ferrari 430 GT, 91
- Sellers/Henzler, Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, 91
- Brown/Cosmo, Ferrari 430 GT, 90
- Law/Neiman, Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, 90
- Goossens/Gentilozzi, Jaguar XKRS, 87
- Mueller/Hand, BMW M3 GT, 48
- Robertson/Robertson/Murry, Ford GT-R, 48
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