Saturday will mark the end of an era as the last American LeMans GT1 race in the United States to feature the factory-backed Corvette Racing C6.Rs. The most successful racing team in ALMS history decided that Long Beach would be ideal to end the GT1 program due to the large fan base in Southern California that turns out to see the Corvettes year after year. The ALMS announced it too would be giving the Corvette Racing team a send-off as well in a post-qualifying ceremony in the Winners Circle.
Corvette Racing has won the last eight ALMS GT1 team and manufacturer championships and posted 75 class wins worldwide including a record 69 ALMS victories. And since its debut in 2005, the Corvette C6.R has won 38 races, the most of any GT1 car.
The 100-minute Tequila Patron American Le Mans Series at Long Beach will be the final tune-up before the C6.Rs head to France in June for the 24 Hours of LeMans where team hopes to win their final GT1 race. Following LeMans, the Corvettes will make their much anticipated transition to the ultra-competitive GT2 class for the remainder of the 2009 ALMS season.
“Long Beach is a great place to say goodbye to GT1 in the United States,” said Corvette Racing program manager Doug Fehan. “The race is a hugely successful event attended by thousands of fans, so it’s a very fitting place to finish the GT1 program by taking the Corvettes to the people.”
“When the checkered flag falls at Long Beach, I think it will be a moving experience for everyone on the team,” said Corvette Racing program manager Doug Fehan. “It will mark the closing of one chapter, the likes of which will never be written again in Corvette history. At the same time, it will mark the opening of another chapter that will eventually see Corvette competing in a global GT class under the international regulations that will come into effect next year.”
Corvette driver Johnny O’Connell, racing in the GT1 class for nine years, said, “I’ve been there for all but two years of competition in GT1, so there will certainly be some sadness when we finally say goodbye to such an amazing car,” O’Connell noted. “There is a huge Corvette following in Southern California, so to let them see the Corvette C6.Rs in their last GT1 race in the U.S. is very special.”
“The GT1 Corvettes are among the coolest cars in racing history, and they’ve left their mark in the record books for Corvette, for Chevrolet and for sports car racing. Over the years, we’ve had great battles and rivalries with Viper, Ferrari, Saleen, Maserati, and Aston Martin. But we’re moving to an even more competitive arena, and that’s another example of Chevrolet taking on challenges. The commitment to compete on the world stage is something that everyone at Chevrolet can be proud of.”
The Tequila Patron American Le Mans Series at Long Beach is scheduled to start at 4:15 p.m. PT on Saturday, April 18. The one-hour, 40-minute race will be televised by ABC on April 19 at 12:30 p.m. ET.
Photo Credit: Richard Price
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