Corvette Racing in GT: One year on
The upcoming Mid-Ohio Sports Car Challenge, the sixth round of the 2010 American Le Mans Series, will mark the first anniversary of Corvette Racing's debut in the production-based GT category. Corvette Racing unveiled a pair of second-generation Corvette C6.R race cars last year at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, finishing second and fourth in the GT2 division. Now one year later, the team is in the midst of a fiercely competitive unified GT category that features entries representing BMW, Ferrari, Porsche, Jaguar, and Ford.
Based on the Corvette ZR1, the GT-spec Corvette race cars were an all-new design that shared virtually no chassis and body components with their GT1 predecessors. Corvette Racing closed out the 2009 season with five podium finishes and one victory in the GT2 class. In the five ALMS races contested in 2010, Corvette Racing drivers Johnny O'Connell and Jan Magnussen finished second in Long Beach and third in Salt Lake City in the No. 3 Compuware Corvette C6.R. Oliver Gavin and Olivier Beretta posted a third-place finish in Monterey, Calif., in their No. 4 Compuware Corvette C6.R.
"Corvette Racing's objectives are more than a checkered flag and a trophy," said GM Racing manager Mark Kent. "Technology transfer, product relevance, and customer enthusiasm are key elements of the Corvette Racing program.
"We knew that the level of competition in the GT class was going to be intense, and that was the primary reason that Corvette Racing moved to the category," Kent said. "Competition drives us to develop the Corvette race cars, which in turn ultimately results in technically advanced production cars for Chevrolet customers like the Corvette Z06 Carbon Limited Edition. Media coverage of Corvette has increased dramatically, new marketing initiatives have improved Chevrolet's return on its investment in road racing, and Corvette owners and fans have rallied around the team."
The transition to the GT division has exceeded the expectations of the team and drivers.
"We've had some fantastic races, and all of us have enjoyed our time in the GT-spec Corvette," said Gavin, a two-time GT1 winner at Mid-Ohio with Beretta. "In the first race we did with the GT2 car at Mid-Ohio a year ago, our car was very, very good. Now we realize that we are in a dogfight every single weekend. You cannot give any quarter, and you cannot make any mistakes.
"I think we are really in a golden period of GT racing," Gavin noted. "In five or 10 years, people will look back and say, 'That was really fantastic!' Winning is what we're here to do – and to win in this class is quite an accomplishment. When that first victory does come for the No. 4 Corvette, it will be really great."
O'Connell knows the thrill of victory at Mid-Ohio after GT1 wins in 2001-02 and 2004-05 (with Ron Fellows) and in 2008 (with Magnussen).
"The transition to GT has been a learning process for the entire team," O'Connell said. "The mantra of Corvette Racing is always to move forward and make things better, and that will pay dividends for us in the future. This team is as focused and as determined as it's ever been. Racing goes through cycles, and the mark of a champion is to keep doing the things that have made you successful, knowing it's going to come back around. I'm confident that with this team we're going to start hitting our stride."
Corvette Racing’s next event is the Mid-Ohio Sports Challenge at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio. The 2-hour, 45-minute race will start at 3:00 p.m. ET on Saturday, August 7, and will be televised by CBS Sports on Sunday, August 15, at 12:30 p.m. ET. Live streaming video can be viewed on americanlemans.com, and live radio coverage will be available on American Le Mans Radio, Sirius Channel 127, and XM Channel 242.