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Corvette Racing

Corvettes Qualify Second and Third at Lime Rock

by Keith Cornett on July 1, 2006

Crew chief Dan Binks’ final instructions to driver Ron Fellows before the start of qualifying were succinct: “Have fun out there.” When Fellows returned to the Corvette Racing pits after taking the second spot on the GT1 grid for Saturday’s New England Grand Prix, his report was equally brief. “Guys, that was fun!” he radioed to the crew of the No. 63 Compuware Corvette C6.R. “The car was great.” Fellows’ lap of the 1.54-mile Lime Rock Park road course in 50.491 seconds fell just .219 seconds short of Darren Turner’s pole-winning time in the No. 007 Aston Martin DBR9. Olivier Beretta ran the third quickest qualifying lap at 50.873 seconds in the No. 4 Compuware Corvette C6.R. Pedro Lamy was fourth fastest at 50.905 in the No. 009 Aston Martin DBR9, joining the qualifying session late after an off-course excursion into a bog left by the torrential rain that has inundated New England. “I had a good, fun lap,” Fellows reported. “The car has been working very well since we rolled it onto the track for the first lap of practice. I don’t know if I could have gone quicker, but I sure would have liked another lap and taken a crack at it. “It’s amazing how fast this Corvette is here,” he added. “I still hold the track record in Trans Am from back in 1995, and it’s a 50.2 . . . and that’s without a chicane. Here we are going almost that fast with the chicane!”As a result of performance adjustments imposed by the sanctioning body last week, the Corvettes are now 199 pounds heavier than their Aston Martin rivals and have a 10-liter smaller fuel capacity. “I was quite pleased that Corvettes’ qualifying times pretty well matched the times from last year because the cars are in a significantly different configuration,” said Corvette Racing program manager Doug Fehan. “That’s a testament to the hard work that the Corvette Racing team has done. If anything surprised me, it was that the Astons weren’t a bit quicker with the advantage that they now have. “Lime Rock is a great circuit on which to race – it’s bumpy, it’s fast, and there are some very challenging corners,” Fehan noted. “You can’t make a pit stop in the time it takes to complete a lap, so anything can happen on race day.” Fresh from a GT1 class victory in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Olivier Beretta was still making the adjustment from the longest track on the schedule to the shortest. Beretta and his teammate Oliver Gavin will be racing for their ninth straight ALMS victory on Saturday. “This feels like a go-kart track after driving on a super track like Le Mans,” said Beretta. “Ron did a very good lap time, so congratulations to him. The important thing was not to damage the car, and that is the target for the race. Now we have to see what happens in the race, and I’m feeling confident.” The New England Grand Prix, the fourth round of the 10-race 2006 American Le Mans Series, will start at 3 p.m. EDT on Saturday, July 1. The race will be televised tape-delayed by CBS Sports on Sunday, July 2, at 4 p.m. EDT.
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Racing Across the US in a Classic ’54 Corvette

by Keith Cornett on June 27, 2006

Arthur Alvis and 15 year old son Elliot are cruising across America in a 1954 Red Corvette. But the drive isn’t for pleasure. It’s a race, but one based on precision, not speed. They are competing in the Great Race, a road race featuring antique cars 45 years old or more. Drivers are awarded points on the accuracy of a driver and navigator to match a time and average speed over a predetermined course. Each day the drivers are given a new set of written directions which have instructions like “Take the first road to the right”. GPS is not allowed. Team Alvis, who hail from Wichita and call themselves the Kansas Flying Monkeys, a reference from Wizard of Oz, departed Philadelphia, the starting point of the Great Race on June 24 and as of Monday were in 27th place. There are 90 or so contestants driving originally equipped antique cars as well. Driving a classic Corvette 4,000 miles across the US does have its pitfalls. Passing through a thunderstorm in Pennsylvania, Arthur had to drive with one hand out the window, running a squeegee across the windshield. the wiper assembly came loose leaving him with only one wiper. While some of the interior got soaked, Arthur doesn’t sweat it. He says the ’54 is not a show car. “It’s plastic…it won’t rust.” Follow the Kansas Flying Monkeys in their quest to win the Great Race and take home $250,000 in prize money by visiting the Great Race website. Good luck guys…we’re all counting on you! Source: Kansas.com
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Final LeMans Wrap-up

by Keith Cornett on June 23, 2006

We promise this will be the last post about Corvette winning the GT1 class at the 24 Hours of LeMans. It is it hard to ignore the contributions of a winning race program and the pride and prestige it brings to the enthusiast. Similar I guess to those that follow a favorite NASCAR driver, but different because the knowledge that the technology that is tested on the track and in the pits will filter down to the production cars you and I drive every day. Our final LeMans wrap-up includes comments and links to three different elements of the Corvette racing program.
Oliver Gavin – Driver of the #64 Corvette Oliver talks about how the outcome could have changed for Corvette Racing had they given up after circumstances that could have taken a lesser team out of the race. He mentions how he had a brush with an LMP car that sent the Corvette into the gravel and punctured a tire. That collision also caused body work damage to the right rear quarter panel that seemed to take some of the speed from Corvette on the straight-aways. That dropped the #64 Corvette 2-3 minutes behind the #009 Aston Martin. But Team Corvette kept pushing and pushing and started making up that deficit when mechanicals forced the Aston into the pits for an extended stop giving the #64 Corvette the class lead. Click here to read Oliver’s account of Winning at LeMans.
Tom Wallace – Corvette Chief Engineer In a Podcast from LeMans, Tom Wallace talks about his impressions from his first visit to the historic track. “With the competition of the Astons, and the back and forth battle that went down to the wire, Corvette overcame the problems that happened during the race better than the Aston team. All Corvette owners and future owners should be darn proud of Corvette and this team and what they have shown during the world’s biggest race.” Visit the GM Fast Lane Blog or Download the MP3.
Peter M. DeLorenzo – AutoExtremist.com Sweet Pete D. as he is affectionately called by the Jalopnik.com boys again focuses his weekly rant on how GM needs to leverage this historic win by Corvette Racing as a symbol of how GM is doing things right. “It wasn’t too long ago that the idea of GM challenging the world with a factory-supported racing effort would have been scoffed at and dismissed as folly internally. Fortunately, those bad old days are long gone. The powers that be at General Motors have finally – finally – come to understand that racing can be much more than just a source of company pride or another excuse to fill the France family’s over-stuffed NASCAR coffers. They’ve learned that going up against the world’s best in the most intensely competitive environment possible is an ideal way to train and develop engineers – and the engineers involved with the Corvette Racing program are indeed some of the company’s best and brightest. They’ve come to understand that technical lessons learned on the racetrack can be directly transferred into improvements on their production cars – which is why the Corvette Z06 is arguably the best all-around sports car in the world at this very moment. GM has also learned that a winning, world-class racing program is an invaluable image and marketing tool that can transform an organization and translate into a winning image both on and off the track.” Read Peter’s entire rant at AutoExtremist.com Photo Credit: Richard Prince
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Corvette Racing Wins The 24 Hours of LeMans

by Keith Cornett on June 18, 2006

This year’s running of the 74th annual 24 Hours of LeMans featured only a few lead changes as it became a battle between the #009 Aston Martin and the #64 Corvette. The Corvette was leading after 6 hours in the race, but a slightly longer pit stop allowed Aston to get out first and take the lead of the GT1 class. The Aston then lead with a 1 lap lead for most of the night and into the day when they developed a problem with their clutch. That pit stop allowed the #64 Corvette driven by Gavin/Beretta/Magnussen to take the lead for good. The #63 Corvette ran into problems early in the race. A spinout dropped the Corvette driven by Fellows/O’Connell/Papis down to 7th place in the GT1 class where they stayed most of the race. Finishing second in the GT1 class was the #007 Aston Martin. 5 laps down from the #64 Corvette, they were never a threat to Corvette Racing’s 1st place finish. A European team racing the C5.R Corvette finished 3rd. This is Corvette Racing’s 5th GT1 class win at LeMans in 6 years. Photo Credit: Philippe Chemin – ACO/Nikon
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More On Corvette’s Win at LeMans

by Keith Cornett on June 18, 2006

This year’s 24-hour endurance test reprised the drama of last year’s battle. The No. 63 Corvette C6.R and the No. 009 Aston Martin DBR9 were in lockstep from the start, separated by less than a lap in the running order for hour after hour. The turning point came in the 22nd hour when the green Aston Martin went to the garage with a mechanical problem. At 2:09 p.m., Jan Magnussen officially took the lead – a lead that Corvette Racing would not relinquish. The winning Corvette completed 355 laps, made 25 faultless pit stops, and won by a five-lap margin of victory.

“You have a one-lap cushion, the Aston is in the garage, and you are five laps ahead of the next car,” crew chief Ray Gongla radioed Magnussen when he took the point. “Do you copy? Can you hear us?” “Yes, I can hear you,” the Dane replied, “but I just can’t believe it!”
Joining the three Corvette Racing drivers on the victory podium were Luc Alphand, Patrice Goueslard and Jerome Policand, who finished third in their independent Corvette C5-R with 346 laps completed. The No. 63 Compuware Corvette C6.R of Ron Fellows, Johnny O’Connell and Max Papis finished seventh after encountering drivetrain problems. The No. 63 Corvette’s star-crossed weekend continued when it pitted at 1:20 p.m. in a cloud of smoke from the transmission. The crews from both cars went to work, removing, rebuilding and reinstalling the overheated gearbox. One hour and nine minutes later, Johnny O’Connell rejoined the fray. “The rules don’t allow you to replace the complete transmission, but you can rebuild it,” explained team manager Gary Pratt. “We had a gearbox issue in Sebring, but we didn’t expect it here, and it might have been the result of one problem creating another problem. Corvette Racing Quotes: Olivier Beretta: “The key to our success was to never give up. Once again Le Mans proved to be race that isn’t won until the checkered flag is out. We had a difficult moment during the night when Ollie hit an LMP car and we subsequently got some vibrations. Then we had a refueling problem and all of a sudden we were almost a lap down. We decided to push and a couple of hours from the end we started biting big chunks out of their lead. Then they hit problems and the race fell back our way. ” Oliver Gavin: “As always it was a fantastic race, super hard all the way against the Aston Martins. And once again everybody dug deep. This race is a testament to everybody involved who has worked so hard. It’s been a truly remarkable result to win three in a row against a super professional team like Prodrive. There were moments when you thought, this is going to be tough, when you felt the race falling away from you, but we just hung in there until it came back to us.” Jan Magnussen: “It was a very tough race, all 24 hours of it. We pushed all the way, and after we hit problems we didn’t sit back. We didn’t want the race to run away from us. By daylight we were almost a lap down but we just kept pushing and pushing until the Astons failed, and eventually they did. We never got any presents, we earned this win!” Source: CorvetteRacing.com
Photo Credit: Philippe Chemin – ACO/Nikon
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Podcast: Final Preparations for the 24 Hours of LeMans

by Keith Cornett on June 17, 2006

What a great weekend for Corvettes. In Illinois, the 34th Annual Bloomington Gold Corvette show and Auction is now in full swing, and for racing fans, the 24 Hours of LeMans starts today. I’ll be tuning into the Speed Channel often throughout the day and into the night for updates on Team Corvette and their quest for the 5th win in 6 years.

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Podcast: Team Corvette Ready for LeMans

by Keith Cornett on June 7, 2006

In this latest podcast from GM’s Fastlane Blog, Corvette Racing Program Manager Doug Fehan talks about Corvette Racing’s preparations for the most prestigious racing event in the world, the 24 Hours of LeMans. Doug discusses what Team Corvette needs to do in getting ready for this endurance race that taxes not only the cars, but the drivers and crew as well. Competition in the GT Class will be intense this year with four Aston Martins, a Saleen, Ferrari and a European C5 Corvette team. According to Fehan, the GT class tends to be the focus of most of the fans because that’s where the classic battles take place. Despite the competition, Fehan is optimistic that the Corvette Racing team will extend its record to five 1-2 finishes in the most recent six years at LeMans. Visit the GM Fast Lane Blog or Download the MP3. Photo: Richard Prince
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Jalopnik.com was up at Indianapolis for coverage of the 500 and one of the boys scored a lap around the Brickyard in the Z06 Corvette Pace car with Chevrolet’s pace car guru Gary Mulder. While not quite hitting the track with the gusto one would expect if equipped with the 505 hp Z06, it was still a fun lap around and it’s amazing to see just how big this fabled track is. Click here for Wert and Austin’s official I Am Indy posts.


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Podcast: Corvette Racing Ready for LeMans

by Keith Cornett on May 23, 2006

For the 5th consecutive year at Mid-Ohio, Corvette Racing’s C6.R’s finished 1-2 in the GT1 Class. But for Corvette Racing the bigger news is that both cars finished without a scratch and now, as GM Road Racing Group Manager Steve Wesoloski tells us, the nightmare begins as the team packs up everything they need and heads to France for the 74th running of the 24 Hours of LeMans on June 17. Will Corvette continue its winning ways at LeMans? Listen to Steve talk about Corvette Racing and LeMans in an audio podcast available from GM’s Fast Lane Blog. Steve brings a unique perspective to Corvette Racing as he is also a member of the C6.R Pit Crew. Visit the GM Fast Lane Blog or Download the MP3.
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Corvette Racing Finishes 1-2 at Houston

by Keith Cornett on May 15, 2006

Corvette Racing took first and second place in the GT1 class and were second and third overall in the Lone Star Grand Prix. The #4 Corvette driven by Olivier Beretta and Oliver Gavin finished just ahead of the #3 Corvette piloted by Ron Fellows and Johnny O’Connell. The win was made even more impressive due to 176 pound weight penalty over the Aston Martin team. Motorsport.com is featuring a review of the race by #4 Corvette Oliver Gavin:

I followed Johnny for 1hour 15 minutes out of my time in the car (98 minutes) and was almost mesmerized sitting behind him. He was driving brilliantly in the No. 3 car, and he didn’t make a mistake, not one inch. It couldn’t have been any closer between us and the Aston Martins.
The next challenge for Corvette Racing will be the American Le Mans at Mid-Ohio May 19-21 in Lexington, Ohio.
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