Johnny O’Connell and Jan Magnussen fought it out on the streets of Long Beach with their counterparts in the #4 Corvette C6.R and emerged victorious for the third stop of the American LeMans series. O’Connell and Magnussen’s #3 Corvette C6.R scored a 1.374 second victory over Oliver Gavin and Olivier Beretta in the No. #4 Corvette. With the win, Johnny O’Connell becomes just the third driver in the ALMS to score 30 victories.
“I first raced in Long Beach in 1986, so to finally get a win here 22 years later is very special,” O’Connell said. “Corvette Racing is the team thatâ€™s the most important in my career, and to show the performance of E85 ethanol racing fuel here in Southern California is a very cool moment.
“I was giving it everything I had,” O’Connell reported. “You see the competition in the pits between the two crews and how close it was between the Corvettes on the track, so it doesnâ€™t take a big field of cars to make it an exciting race.”
Magnussen started on the GT1 pole and with Gavin close behind both drivers had to content with heavy traffic and debris along the 1.968-mile temporary race circuit. The teams pitted together under a caution after the first hour of the 100 mile race. The #3 Corvette with O’Connell made it out of the pits first and settled in to duel with the #4 C6.R and Olivier Beretta over the next 37 minutes. The lead stretched to 6.7 seconds at one point but Beretta was making up ground at the end. With the amount of traffic and lack of time remaining, O’Connell was able to hold Beretta off for the win.
“Long Beach always proves to be a great event,” commented Corvette Racing program manager Doug Fehan.” The two Corvettes battled all day long, both crews executed flawless pit stops, and the engineering team developed great strategies. We had another perfect run with cellulosic E85 ethanol, so it was just a great day for Corvette Racing and for the environment.”
The victory at Long Beach gives O’Connell and Magnussen a four-point lead (66-62) over Gavin and Beretta in the GT1 Driverâ€™s Championship.
Corvette Racing will see its next action on Sunday, May 18 for the Utah Grand Prix held at Miller Motorsports Park near Salt Lake City. Racing begins at 1:00 PM Mountain Time and Speed with televise the two-hour, 45-minute event live at 3 p.m. ET.
Bondurant School of High Performance Driving
Photo Credit: American LeMans