07-21-2007: Gavin and Beretta Score Sixth GT1 Win of Season in Mid-Ohio ALMS
Contact Ends O'Connell and Magnussen's Charge to the Front
The GT1 class in the Acura Sports Car Challenge at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course was a tale of two Corvettes. It was the best of times for Oliver Gavin and Olivier Beretta as they scored their sixth victory in seven American Le Mans Series races in 2007. But while fortune smiled on the "two Ollies" and No. 4 Compuware Corvette C6.R, the No. 3 Compuware Corvette C6.R of Johnny O'Connell and Jan Magnussen was a magnet for misfortune. O'Connell had to start at the back of the pack after a technical infraction in qualifying, and Magnussen was spun by a prototype and effectively eliminated from contention.
Gavin and Beretta's 28-second victory over their teammates extended their lead in the GT1 championship to 36 points with five races remaining. Both Corvettes completed 125 laps around the 2.25-mile Mid-Ohio circuit, finishing 11th and 12th overall. Beretta extended his record for ALMS career victories to 34, and Gavin notched his 25th ALMS win.
"We seem to be on a bit of a roll here, and I'm extremely happy to have my sixth win of the season," said Gavin. "The traffic today was difficult, but most of the drivers were giving people room to race. The team did a fantastic job, and we gained time on every pit stop. I hope to keep this momentum going. Johnny and Jan have had appalling luck in the last few races, but it will surely turn around for them and they'll have their days."
Gavin started 16th on the grid, while O'Connell was relegated to the 26th starting position after officials disallowed his qualifying time. But O'Connell gained ground quickly, picking up 13 positions in the first two laps and pulling to within seven seconds of Gavin.
"It's always a good battle between the two Corvettes, but it's tough when you have to start the race in Siberia," O'Connell quipped. "I made up some positions at the start, but as close as I got was seven seconds. It's a shame that we weren't able to give the crew the winning record they deserve because nobody works harder than they do."
After the first round of pit stops and driver changes at the 56-minute mark, Beretta had a 12-second lead in the No. 4 Corvette C6.R over Magnussen in the No. 3 Corvette C6.R. Magnussen methodically reduced the gap to 2.5 seconds - but then fate intervened.
Magnussen had contact with the No. 26 LMP2 driven by Bryan Herta in Turn 13. The Corvette spun, losing nearly 20 seconds. Officials subsequently levied a stop-and-go penalty on the prototype driver, but the Corvette's run to the front was effectively ended.
"One of the P2 cars tried to pass me around the outside in the second-to-last corner, but he wasn't up alongside me," Magnussen recalled. "Then in the next corner he was on the inside coming up into the little kink onto the front straight, but he was only up on my rear wheel. I didn't see him, but I felt him when he spun me around.
"We had almost caught up to the other Corvette," continued the Dane, "and it would have been cool to race them to the finish."
The final round of pit stops came at 1:50 as O'Connell replaced Magnussen and Gavin replaced Beretta for the final run to the checkered flag.
"Everything went well, the car was very good and very fast," Beretta reported. "We just had to deal with the traffic. When you go off the racing line, you get pickup on the tires and then it takes a lap or two to clean them off. I also had some contact with a prototype, but this is just the nature of endurance racing."
Both Corvette C6.Rs performed flawlessly in the two-hour, 45-minute race.
"The No. 3 Corvette made a great run, but unfortunately had a coming together with the No. 26 prototype that took them out of contention," noted Corvette Racing program manager Doug Fehan. "Otherwise I think we would have seen another great battle. Both cars made it to the finish line in perfect condition, and now we'll move on to the next race."
CBS Sports will televise today's race tape-delayed at 2 p.m. EDT on Sunday, July 22. Corvette Racing's next event is the four-hour Generac 500 at Road America on Saturday, August 11. NBC Sports will televise the race tape-delayed at 2:30 p.m. EDT on Sunday, August 12.