Oliver Gavin, Olivier Beretta and Max Papis drove their #4 Corvette C6.R to the GT1 Class victory in Saturday’s Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta. The Class victory by the #4 Corvette C6.R effectively sealed the GT1 championship for the two Ollies, their third in a row, and was the 6th consecutive win for Corvette Racing at Petit Le Mans. The 1,000 mile/ten hour race was slowed by nine cautions as accidents ruled the day. Just 15 laps into the race Jan Magnussen was clipped by the #26 LMP2 which sent the #3 Corvette C6.R hard into a tire barrier, damaging the front end and ending the campaign for Magnussen, O’Connell and Fellows.
Runner up in the GT1 class was the #27 Maserati MC12 finishing 50 laps behind the Corvette C6.R after also being involved in an accident.
“As far as wrecks go, this one ranks pretty high,” Magnussen observed. “The fact that I can stand here now shows how strong the Corvette C6.R is. All of the safety devices built into the car absolutely did their job.”
Course workers brought the car back to the paddock on a flatbed, and the Dan Binks-led crew surveyed the damage, which was too extensive to repair.
“There is no question that all of the safety systems, including the HANS device, performed admirably,” said Corvette Racing program manager Doug Fehan. “The crush zone in the nose box and the way the frame rail is designed to absorb an impact did exactly what they were supposed to do. When you build a car to that specification, the driver can avoid injury in a big hit like the one we had today.”
“It was a huge disappointment for the No. 3 Corvette team because they had a great car for the race,” Fehan said. “The upside is that the No. 4 Corvette ran flawlessly, the crew did eight perfect pit stops, and despite a great challenge from Maserati, Corvette once again prevailed.”
With the Win at Petit Le Mans, Beretta became the first ALMS driver to win five championships – three with Corvette Racing and two with Oreca. Beretta has 36 career ALMS victories while Gavin has his 27th career ALMS victory.
And despite the lack of meaningful competition from outside the Corvette Racing team, kudos go to Gavin and Beretta for beating the best in GT1 – Jan Magnussen, Johnny O’Connell and Ron Fellows – to win the Drivers Championship, and that was no easy feat.
“It’s a very special moment to win the championship,” Beretta continued. “The crew and engineers have done a perfect job since the beginning of the year. Everybody is working in the same direction. I have a fantastic teammate – Oliver is super quick, very straightforward, very clever, and a good guy. We work very well together; we don’t even need to speak, we just understand each other from an expression or a gesture. We trust each other completely, and that is a very good thing.”
“It’s great to win the championship by winning here today,” said Gavin, who tallied his 27th career ALMS victory. “This makes up somewhat for the huge disappointment of Le Mans. I’m delighted for everyone in the team, and especially for my engineer, Steve Cole, who’s done a marvelous job all season. Ray Gongla, my crew chief, has been a rock, a real leader, with his cool head and his ability to keep talking us through the races. All of the team managers – Gary Pratt, Doug Fehan and Steve Wesoloski – have been at the helm, steering the ship along. Olivier has done a fantastic job, and it’s marvelous to have Max back in the car.”
The final race of the 2007 ALMS season is the Monterey Sports Car Championships at Laguna Seca on Saturday, October 20th. SPEED channel will televise the race live beginning at 5:30 pm EST.
Photo Credit: Richard Prince
Maserati to Challenge the Corvette C6.Rs at Petit Le Mans
Petit Le Mans