Racing at Monterey is always a challenge and with the ALMS Drivers and Manufacturers Championship titles on the line, Corvette Racing needed a strong result to keep them in contention. For six hours, Corvettes battled BMW, Ferrari and Porsche on the roller coaster that is Laguna Seca raceway. Did the team succeed and force a “game seven” for the championships at Petit Le Mans? Hit the jump to see the results of the American Le Mans Series at Laguna Seca.
A Long Day in Monterey as Team Experiences Highs and Lows on Roller Coaster Road Course
MONTEREY, Calif., Sept. 17, 2011 – The six-hour American Le Mans Monterey proved to be trying day for Corvette Racing as the Compuware Corvette C6.Rs finished fifth and seventh in the GT class. While the cars showed competitive speed, keeping a handle on the roller coaster Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca circuit throughout a stint was a challenge for the Corvettes.
Jan Magnussen and Oliver Gavin finished fifth in the No. 4 Corvette C6.R, 15.9 seconds behind the winning No. 45 Porsche 911 GT3 of Joerg Bergmeister and Patrick Long. The No. 62 Ferrari, third across the finish line, received a post-race penalty for avoidable contact, promoting the No. 4 Corvette from sixth to fifth in the final results. Tommy Milner and Olivier Beretta finished seventh, one lap behind the leaders, in the No. 3 Corvette C6.R.
“Looking at lap times, we had cars that were very competitive today,” said Corvette Racing program manager Doug Fehan. “Unfortunately we couldn’t find a setup that would allow the cars to keep the tires under them for an entire stint.”
After starting second in the GT class, Gavin held his position through the first 14 laps before he was overtaken by the No. 55 BMW. Within a few laps, he had slipped to seventh as the Corvette struggled to maintain grip on the track surface. After an early pit stop put the No. 4 Corvette out of sequence with the leaders, Gavin was back up to third shortly after the one-hour mark, only to slide back to seventh. That established the pattern of the race for the No. 4 Corvette.
“It was a very long day, and definitely not the result we were looking for,” Gavin said. “For whatever reason, today we sustained high tire wear and a drop in grip. We’ll get to the bottom of this so that we can fight for a win when we come back here next year. I definitely think it’s just a blip, since we’ve been competitive at every other event this year.”
Magnussen agreed: “At the beginning of the stint, the car was really good, but then it dropped off about halfway through, so we couldn’t really keep up the pace. When the car was good, we were right there with the leaders.”
Savvy pit strategy kept the Corvettes in contention, and Gavin was running second after four hours of racing. However, he and Magnussen couldn’t maintain their position through long runs.
Milner and Beretta had a similar plight in the No. 3 Corvette. “You always want to keep fighting because anything can happen in a race,” Milner said. “Today we weren’t the quickest car and weren’t as competitive as we would have liked to have been. The team was awesome, they made great pit stops and fast driver changes. I think we’re primed and ready for Petit Le Mans.”
“We did our best, the team did a good job on the car, but it was a shame that we lost a lap,” Beretta conceded. “It’s all part of racing. Unfortunately today it was difficult, but we have one more race coming, and the whole team will be going for another victory.”
ESPN2 will televise the ModSpace American Le Mans Monterey on Sunday, September 18, at 1 p.m. ET. Corvette Racing’s next event is the 10-hour/1,000-mile Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta in Braselton, Ga., on Saturday, October 1, at 11:30 a.m. ET. Live video coverage will be available on ESPN3.com in the U.S. and americanlemans.com for international users. ABC will televise Petit Le Mans at 4 p.m. ET on Sunday, October 2.
ModSpace American Le Mans Series Monterey GT Results (Top 10):
- 45 Bergmeister/Long, Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, 236
- 56 Mueller/Hand, BMW M3 GT, 236
- 01 Sharp/van Overbeek, Ferrari F458 Italia, 236
- 55 Auberlen/Werner, BMW M3 GT, 236
- 4 Gavin/Magnussen, Corvette C6.R, 236
- 62 Melo/Vilander, Ferrari F458 Italia, 236
- 3 Beretta/Milner, Corvette C6.R, 235
- 02 Brown/Cosmo, Ferrari F458 Italia, 231
- 44 Neiman/Holzer, Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, 230
- 48 Miller/Maasen, Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, 224
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