Evander Klum asked:
Where better to show off the Corvette performance parts than at the American Le Mans Series Utah Grand Prix at Miller Motorsports Park. And this where exactly Oliver Gavin together with Olivier Beretta scored their fourth win in five starts this season. The two â€œOlliesâ€ completed 61 laps of the 4.5 mile circuit in their No.4 Compuware Corvette C6.R, finishing 26.550 seconds ahead of Jan Magnussen and Johnny Oâ€™Connell in the No.3 Compuware Corvette C6.R. The two Corvettes finished eight and ninth respectively.
After the team elected to change tires that had been flat-spotted in a spin during qualifying Gavin was given no choice but to start at the back of the pack. Per ALMS rule, the pole-winning Corvette was demoted to the 25th starting position after the tire change. Despite his pole position Gavin was able to surpass the entire GT2 field on the first lap obtaining the ninth positions. And by the third lap he was 3.5 seconds behind the No. 3 Corvette which has started on the 12th position.
Gavin recalled, “There was quite a melee in the first corner with cars going off the track, and I was trying to be very careful because the last thing I wanted to do was damage the car. I managed to pick off cars one by one. Then I caught up behind one of the prototypes – that was a problem because we were much quicker in the corners but their car was like a dragster in the straights. Finally he went wide in Turn 15 and I managed to get past him.”
A full course caution at 11:50 into the race has reduced the margin between the two Corvettes to .6 seconds. And then it happen after the first round of pit stops at the 40 minute mark, the No. 4 Corvette has started to lead.
Gavin said, “As I came in for the pit stop, Ray Gongla, my crew chief, said on the radio, ‘Make it count! I pushed and pushed, the crew did a fantastic pit stop, and we managed to get out just in front of Jan. I have to say that our engineer, Steve Cole, and the team gave us a brilliant race car today.”
While Gavin reminisce the race Beretta was savoring his record-setting 32nd career ALMS victory and would be focusing on the teamâ€™s next race which is the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Beretta said, “It was a very important day for us because it was the last practice before Le Mans. We had to finish with the car in one piece because it will fly to France in a few days. We want the mechanics to be well rested because they’ve done a fantastic job since the start of the season. We went through three street races without any accidents and now we’ve completed a successful Michelin tire test. We are ready to go to the big one now.”
The Corvette Racing Program Manager Doug Fehan also agreed that indeed “It was a perfectly executed race today and we learned a tremendous amount. I think we’ve made a very good tire selection for Le Mans; the last compound we had on looked really good, so we’re excited about that. We’ll be as prepared as possible.”
The race was a tough one for the Corvette Racing team like for instance the experience of Magnussen who had to deal with a transmission problem in his two stints in the No. 3 Corvette C6.R. He said, “In the first stint I had some trouble with the gearbox on shifts. That problem got better in the second stint, but I couldn’t count on it not coming back so it was hard for me to push. Still, we did have a good test of the tires, and that will be useful for us going into Le Mans.”
Johnny Oâ€™Connell who is the teammate of Magnussen is also eyeing the Le Mans prize. He said, “The next stop is Le Mans, and we’re hoping for good fortune there. We’ve certainly done our homework in these last races.” But for team manager Gary Pratt the race that happened was nothing but business as usual. He said, “It was a smooth run, and I’m proud of the drivers and crews. Everybody kept it on the track. And when Olivier’s happy with the tires then thatâ€™s a good sign for Le Mans.”
The Corvette Racing Team will head to France for the 24 Hours Le Mans which is scheduled on June 16 to 17. The 75th running of the classic 24-hour endurance race on the 8.5-mile Circuit des 24 Heures du Mans will start at 3 pm local time (9 am EDT). Parts of the race are to be televised live on SPEED.