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Corvette Racing

Oliver Gavin Reflects on the 2006 ALMS Season

by Keith Cornett on January 5, 2007

Oliver Gavin - Corvette RacingCorvette Racing’s Oliver Gavin reflects on the up and down 2006 ALMS season in his end of the year race-by-race summary. Co-driving the number 4 Corvette with Olivier Beretta, the duo successfully defended their American Le Mans Series GT1 Championship despite the politics and performance balancing that appeared heavy-handed at times. And not only did the two “Ollies” have to fend off the challenges from their Aston Martin Racing competitors, but also their team mates Ron Fellows and Johnny O’Connell of the #3 Corvette. Oliver confirms the Corvette Racing team is scheduled to run at Sebring in March. After that the schedule is up in the air as to whether the team will attempt to defend their ALMS Championship again, or head for other venues, casting off their ALMS performance-balancing sanctions to show the world just how good the C6.R Corvettes can be. Click here to read Oliver Gavin’s 2006 Season Wrap-up.
Source:
Motorsport.com
Image Credit: Rick Doyle – OliverGavin.com Related:
Corvette Racing Leaving The ALMS? Technorati Tags:
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Corvette Racing Leaving The ALMS?

by Keith Cornett on December 18, 2006

Corvette Racing at Leguna Seca“Challenging” is the word Doug Fehan, Corvette Racing’s Program Manager, uses to describe the 2006 racing season. Not only did Corvette compete with Aston Martin and other challengers in the GT1 class, they also had to compete against a sanctioning body that at times last year appeared to have it in for Corvette Racing. Balance of Performance adjustments were continually assessed against Corvette Racing throughout the 2006 campaign. Starting with 122 lbs at the beginning of the season at Sebring, the sanctioning body of the ALMS ramped up those adjustments to 199 lbs, plus smaller air restrictors and fuel tanks following Corvette’s 24 Hours of Le Mans win. With one race remaining and the outcome of the season on the line, the sanctions body handed down their seventh adjustment of the season: Both Corvette and Aston Martin would race a 2,535 pounds total, but Corvette would have a smaller engine restrictor. Aston Martin’s 009 won the GT1 Class and Corvette Racing’s No. 4 and No. 3 cars came in 2nd and 3rd at Laguna Seca. Corvette Racing, having amassed enough points earlier in the season, was able to win their 6th GT1 Manufacturer’s Cup. But despite the win, the battle with the ALMS Sanctioning Body may have taken its toll. When asked about next year, Doug Fehan replied “Right now, no decision has been made.” Fehan also would not rule out a jump to a European or Asian series. “We look for formats that allow us to demonstrate Corvette’s durability, reliability and performance… Corvette is a global brand… Expanding markets in China and Asia make it attractive to run a race in Beijing or Shanghai, for example.” Europe’s Le Mans or FIA series are also being considered. “Le Mans remains the cornerstone of what we do.” said Fehan. Fehan expects a decision to be made sometime around the first of the year. It’s our hope that Corvette Racing can stay in the ALMS, however, they must be allowed to compete without performance adjustments. Raising the bar breeds better racing teams. Lowering the bar signals defeat. Let’s hope the ALMS recognizes their errors. Otherwise, they risk losing a major manufacturer to a competing series. Source:
NCM’s America’s Sports Car Magazine
Pratt & Miller (image)
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Racing Fans – Buy Your Own Corvette C6.R Racecar

by Keith Cornett on November 10, 2006

Corvette C6.R - Number 001 GM’s first ever C6 Corvette race car, the Corvette C6.R (chassis number C6.R-001) is up for grabs if you got the cash. The Racing version of the Corvette is being sold by current owner Mike Hezemans of GLPK Carsport – a European Race Team. This Corvette was raced under the GM Corvette racing banner in 2005 winning the ALMS Championship (actually we don’t know if this is the #3 or #4 Corvette) and at the end of the racing season was sold to GLPK Carport where Hezemans raced the car for the 2006 season in Belgium’s BelCar Championship. So how much to own a piece of Corvette racing history? Roughly $760,000 USD. The car will be delivered in ready to race condition. For details, get a translator and visit Hezemans.nl Source: Winding Road
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Corvette Racing Sweeps ALMS Championships

by Keith Cornett on October 22, 2006

Corvette Racing capped Corvette’s 50th anniversary in international road racing by sweeping the American Le Mans Series manufacturers, drivers and team championships in tonight’s season finale at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. A runner-up finish by Oliver Gavin and Olivier Beretta in the No. 4 Compuware Corvette C6.R at the Monterey Sports Car Championships wrapped up Chevrolet’s sixth consecutive manufacturers’ title and gave the pair their second straight drivers championship. The four-hour race was hard fought from the green flag as all four GT1 contenders finished within one lap of each other. The Aston Martin DBR9 of Stephane Sarrazin and Pedro Lamy won by 4.945 seconds over Gavin and Beretta, while the No. 3 Compuware Corvette C6.R of Johnny O’Connell and Ron Fellows took third place by .474 seconds over the Aston Martin of Tomas Enge and Darren Turner. “It’s fantastic that we’ve won the championships again,” said Gavin. “This season has had some ups and downs, some great racing and some frustrating racing, and in the end we’ve come through.” “It was really close at the finish and we didn’t know whether Olivier was going to be able to catch Stephane,” Gavin continued. “He got close but then hit traffic, and then we just ran out of time.” Beretta had the best seat in the house after passing his teammate O’Connell for second in the Corkscrew with 13 minutes to go. “The final stint was amazing,” said Beretta. “We had two options today – Olly and I knew we just had to finish the race to win the drivers championship, and on the other hand we really wanted to push hard and win the manufacturers championship for Chevrolet. So I tried to forget about the drivers championship and push hard to show that Corvette was still No. 1 even with all of the handicaps we have been given this year. Corvette Racing is a great team and they gave me a great car. This is my fourth ALMS championship, but this one is the sweetest.” The race almost went awry for the No. 4 Corvette at the start when Beretta was hit from behind by a Ferrari, damaging the left-rear fender. Two laps later, a fortuitous caution period allowed the pit crew to reattach the fender without losing contact with the leaders. Then shortly after the first hour, Beretta passed Lamy for the GT1 lead. For the next 20 minutes, the GT1 contenders ran nose-to-tail in a four-car freight train. “That was a tough race against a tough competitor,” said team manager Gary Pratt. “When the No. 4 car was hit and then the caution came out I said to myself, ‘This is going to be our lucky day.’ We got it fixed and went right back out there and raced them again.” The race become a strategic chess match when the two Corvettes made their fifth and final pit stops under caution at the 2-hour, 48-minute mark, ensuring that both cars could run to the finish without another stop. When the class-leading No. 007 Aston Martin pitted with a flat tire at 3:16, the championships were virtually clinched as the Corvettes were running comfortably in second and third. O’Connell relentlessly cut the No. 009 Aston Martin’s advantage by a second a lap, passing for the lead in Turn 11 with 27 minutes remaining – but the Aston countered and regained the lead going into Turn 2. “It was a great battle,” O’Connell declared. “We got by them, he got back by me, and then I got punted by one of the prototypes. I thought we might have hurt the car, but we never gave up, and that’s the mantra of Corvette Racing.” “We’ve got a whole winter to train and I’m looking forward to next year,” O’Connell continued. “With all of the challenges that were presented to Corvette Racing this year, for Chevrolet to win the manufacturers championship and for the No. 4 car to get the drivers championship says a lot about the depth of this team.” Corvette Racing program manager Doug Fehan agreed: “As I said before it started, it was going to come down to who made the fewest mistakes and who had the best strategy. We planned our pit strategy to set up for a long final run. It worked to our benefit, and securing second and third was what we needed to clinch the manufacturers championship.” “Winning this championship for the sixth straight year sends a tremendous message about the durability, reliability and performance of Corvette, Chevrolet and all General Motors products,” said Fehan. “It’s a testament to how hard this race team works.” Corvette’s first class victory at the 12 Hours of Sebring in 1956 was the first step onto the world stage that established Chevy’s sports car as a contender in top-level competition. “Winning the American Le Mans Series championship puts an exclamation point on Corvette’s 50th anniversary in international road racing,” said Ed Peper, Chevrolet general manager. “We began the year with a victory in Sebring, the site of Corvette’s first major win in 1956. In June we celebrated Corvette’s fifth win in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the world’s greatest sports car race. Now with this championship performance today at Laguna Seca, we’ve again shown why racing is such an important part of Corvette’s heritage. On behalf of the entire Chevrolet organization, I congratulate the drivers, mechanics, engineers, support personnel and team managers of Corvette Racing. They’re the best in the business, and they proved it again today.” The 2007 American Le Mans Series will begin with the season-opening Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring in Sebring, Fla., on Saturday, March 17, 2007. The 12-hour endurance race will be televised live on SPEED. Source: CorvetteRacing.com
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Corvette Racing Third and Fourth at Petit LeMans

by Keith Cornett on October 2, 2006

Corvette Racing was no match for this week’s Competition Adjustments which handed a 1-2 victory to the Aston Martins at Saturday’s Petit LeMans at Road Atlanta. The ALMS Sanctions Body penalized Corvette Racing’s #3 and #4 Corvettes 110 pounds and smaller engine restrictors. Armed with this week’s competition adjustments, Aston Martin was able to deny Corvette Racing the third win in the ALMS Triple Crown as well as move to second place and 7 points behind Corvette in the overall standings for the Manufacturers Cup. During the race, the #3 Corvette was hit twice. The first occurred when an LMP1 Prototype forced it off the road during a high speed pass, forcing the Corvette into the pits and losing a lap while clearing the grille. The second hit occurred when contact between the #3 Corvette and #007 Aston Martin resulted in spinning out the Corvette.

“It’s disappointing,” said O’Connell. “I had a really good car but then I got turned backwards by Turner and lost a lot of time that would have been better spent trying to catch the 009 car. After I was forced off the track in the Esses, we were really lucky not to have to buy a new Corvette. It was a big slide.” “Considering I was run into twice today, it’s amazing that we were still in the race,” O’Connell continued. “Corvette Racing builds about the strongest race car out there.” “It’s almost impossible to compete because the competition adjustments have gone too far, especially on a track like this,” Max Papis commented. “Corvette Racing never gives up, but at the end of the day the competition adjustments were a little too much.”
While Corvette Racing lost the battle at Road Atlanta, the season-long war will be decided in the series’ season finale in Monterey, Calif., on Oct. 21. Chevrolet and Corvette Racing have a seven-point lead in the manufacturer and team championships; Beretta and Gavin lead the drivers’ standings by 11 points. With 23 points on the line at Laguna Seca Raceway, the championships hang in the balance. Again, we make our call to the ALMS to Free the Corvette C6.R
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Corvette Racing Running for the ALMS Triple Crown

by Keith Cornett on September 26, 2006

The #3 Corvette C6.ROn Saturday, September 30th, Corvette Racing with be attempting road racing’s version of the Triple Crown. The first two jewels of the crown was the 12 Hours of Sebring and the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Next is the Petit Le Mans, a 10 hour/1,000 mile road race at Road Atlanta. Corvette Racing has only pulled this off twice before despite their dominance in the GT1 Class, in 2002 and 2004. But with the two Ollies – Oliver Gavin and Olivier Beretta along with Jan Magnussen have a streak of 4 endurances races since their win at the 2005 Le Mans. Gavin and his teammates have learned the discipline of endurance racing. “Once the race starts, you have to drive hard but be aware it is a long race and a lot can happen,” he noted. “It’s not going to be won in the first stint; it usually comes down to the last two or three hours. That’s when things happen – cars break, it’s difficult to see, mistakes are made. The track often gets slippery as the race goes on, and you’ve got to be on your game when it gets dark.” It’s going to be busy in the cockpit because of the short length of the race track,” explained Johnny O’Connell, a resident of nearby Flowery Branch, Ga. “Because the lap times are so much quicker than at Sebring and Le Mans, the odds of getting caught out by a pace car and going down a lap are much greater. Every driver is aware of the risks of falling behind your rivals at Road Atlanta because of that pace car situation.” Petit Le Mans, the ninth round of the American Le Mans Series, is scheduled to start at 11:45 a.m. EDT on Saturday, Sept. 30. The race will be broadcast live on SPEED Channel from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. EDT and 3 to 10 p.m. EDT. American Le Mans Radio will have live coverage at americanlemans.com, which also will feature IMSA live timing and scoring. Photo: Richard Prince
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Free the Corvette C6.R at Petit Le Mans

by Keith Cornett on September 24, 2006

Ever since the sanctioning body of the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) decided to “level the playing field” for the GT1 class by punishing the C6.R Corvettes for their technological advantage over the rest of the GT1′s competition, most notably Aston Martin, we begin each race week wondering what this week’s punishment will be. At the beginning of the ALMS season at Sebring it started with a 122 pound weight increase. By the 24 Hours of Le Mans, it was 200 pounds. At Lime Rock, ALMS finally gave the race away with a sanction that included a 200 pound weight increase, smaller fuel capacity and intake restrictors. Team Corvette fought hard, but finished 0.33 seconds behind Aston Martin for second place. With two races left and the race for the cup still too close to call, we wonder what the ALMS will impose for this weekend’s Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta. We found the following graphic on the CorvetteForum.com and decided to send our own message to the ALMS sanction’s body: Free the C6.R!

Free the C6.R!
Petit Le Mans is a 10 hour/1,000 mile race to be run this Saturday at Road Atlanta. Speed TV will be providing television coverage beginning at 11:30am EST.
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Video: 50 Years of Corvette Racing

by Keith Cornett on September 7, 2006

50 Years of Corvette RacingGM released the following video in conjunction with the 50 year anniversary of Corvette racing. The video highlights the 50th anniversary by first focusing on Corvette’s class win at LeMans earlier this year, their fifth win in six years, and then discusses how the new Z06 was developed alongside the LeMans-winning race car, sharing many of the same technologies. My favorite part of the clip is the early footage showing Corvette’s first Chief Engineer Zora Arkus-Duntov and discussing how his strategy for Corvette Racing “Win on Sunday, Sell on Monday” worked famously for Chevrolet. Historical footage shows C1 Corvettes racing a Sebring and LeMans. Click here to view 50 Yeas of Corvette Racing Source: GM via MediaLink
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Corvette Racing Finishes 1-2 at Road America

by Keith Cornett on August 21, 2006

#3 Corvette C6.RELKHART LAKE, Wis., Aug. 20, 2006 – Savvy driving, smart race strategy and spot-on execution propelled Corvette Racing to a 1-2 finish today in the GT1 class in the American Le Mans Series Generac 500 at Road America. Ron Fellows and Johnny O’Connell scored a popular victory in their No. 3 Compuware Corvette C6.R with a one-lap margin over the No. 4 Compuware Corvette C6.R of Oliver Gavin and Olivier Beretta. Today’s win was the 25th career ALMS victory for both O’Connell and Fellows. The pair broke a yearlong drought with their first ALMS win since July 2005 and their first victory at Road America. “I first raced here since 1986, and I’ve had more second place finishes than they have bratwursts,” O’Connell laughed. “It’s been a long time for us, and it’s great to be back on the top step of the podium. Since our last win together, there have been many races that could have gone our way but didn’t. We had a beautiful race car today and a lot of good competition.” Fellows agreed: “It was great fun,” said the Canadian ace. “I hated to get out of the car; the longer we ran, the better it got. We’ve been in position to win and then got unlucky with track position and cautions. This time a caution went our way. The guys never gave up, and Johnny did a fantastic job as always.” The race was essentially decided at 2 hours and 16 minutes when the third full-course caution period of the race began. The two Corvettes had adopted different pit strategies, with the No. 3 car making its second pit stop at 1:12 and the No. 4 pitting at 1:41. When the pace car came out for the final caution, the No. 3 Corvette C6.R had a one-lap lead on its sister car and the No. 007 Aston Martin. O’Connell then pitted under caution and completed his run to the checkered flag in the final half-hour without pressure. Beretta conserved fuel and ran his final one-hour, three-minute stint without a stop. “When the No. 009 Aston Martin went into a gravel trap early, we were essentially in a situation with two cars versus one,” explained Corvette Racing program manager Doug Fehan. “We had an opportunity to put our cars on different strategies in case there was an inopportune yellow flag or one car got caught behind the pace car. We covered our bets, and it worked out well for us today. “I suggested after qualifying that this race would depend on good strategy, smart driving, great pit stops and perfect execution,” Fehan noted. “That’s about the way it turned out.” “The engineers did a great job with the strategy, and with the luck of the caution it could have gone either way for either car,” said team manager Gary Pratt. “We don’t care which car wins as long as it’s a 1-2 Corvette finish. The Astons fought hard, and it was tough for us here with the extra weight our cars are carrying. Our tires held up perfectly, the engines ran flawlessly, and all of the drivers did a fantastic job.” Defending GT1 champions Oliver Gavin and Olivier Beretta continue to lead the standings with 122 points. Fellows and O’Connell are second with 110 points, and Aston Martin drivers Tomas Enge and Darren Turner are third with 107. “At the end of the day a Corvette won,” said Beretta. “It’s good for the No. 3 car to get their first victory of the year. We are all family; we always want to win, that is what fuels competition, but I am happy for them. It’s important that the Corvettes finished first and second considering the performance handicaps we have.” “It was messy at the start with cars everywhere, but then it settled into a game of cat and mouse with the Astons because they were very fast on the straights and we’re better in the braking zones and through the corners,” Gavin reported. “It seemed that their drivers were struggling with the balance a bit, so we were sitting and waiting. I had a really good battle with Darren Turner, and sneaked through on the inside of Turn 14.” Corvette Racing’s next event is the Labour Day Weekend Grand Prix of Mosport at Mosport International Raceway in Bowmanville, Ont., on Sunday, Sept. 3. The eighth round of the 10-race ALMS series will be televised live on the SPEED Channel starting at 3 p.m. EDT. Source: GMRacingNews.com via MotorSport.com. Photo: Juha Lievonen
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Z06 Corvette to Pace Brickyard 400

by Keith Cornett on August 3, 2006

The 505 hp Z06 Corvette has been named the Offical Pace Car of the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard, running at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on August 6th. While the Corvette has been a favorite pace car of the Indianapolis 500, pacing the most famous race in America a record 8 times, this will be the first time Corvette has earned pace car duties for the annual NASCAR event at the historic track.

“We’re excited to have the 505-hp Corvette Z06 back at the world-famous Brickyard speedway as the Allstate 400 pace car,” said Ed Peper, Chevrolet general manager. “The Corvette is so racing-ready that all we do is add strobe lights, racing safety belts and a fun paint scheme and it’s ready to pound the bricks at up to 198 mph.”
The Brickyard 400 Pace Car has a paint scheme unique for the event. Pace car designer Kip Wasenko says of the exterior theme, “We’ve used the new sixth-generation Corvette to pace several races recently and its shape is so iconic that we’re comfortable getting a little more abstract and artistic with the pace car theme and not sticking to a design that follows the lines of the car.”
Z06 Corvette - The Official Pace Car of the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard Z06 Corvette - The Official Pace Car of the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard Z06 Corvette - The Official Pace Car of the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard
Z06 Corvette - The Official Pace Car of the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard Z06 Corvette - The Official Pace Car of the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard Z06 Corvette - The Official Pace Car of the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard
The 13th annual Allstate 400 at the Brickyard starts at 2:30 p.m. (ET) Sunday, Aug. 6 and will be televised live on NBC. Source: TheAutoChannel.com
Photos: Ron McQueeney & Jim Haines Indianapolis Motor Speedway
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