Wednesday
Nov182009

Command Performance

[VIEW CORVETTE AT LE MANS GALLERY - RICK DOLE / REGIS LEFEBURE]

Winners of the last eight American Le Mans Series GT1 team and manufacturer championships, Corvette Racing has posted 75 class wins worldwide – including a record 69 ALMS victories. Corvette Racing drivers have won a total of 13 ALMS class championships since 2002. Since its debut in 2005, the Corvette C6.R has won 38 races, the most of any GT1 car and second all-time in ALMS history regardless of class.

On April 18, Corvette Racing marked the end of an era with the final U.S. appearance by the Corvette C6.Rs in the GT1 category.  In a special post-qualifying ceremony in the Long Beach winner’s circle, American Le Mans Series gave an official send-off to the GT1 Corvettes showcasing the championship-winning Corvette C6.R race cars and the production GT1 Championship Edition Corvette they inspired.

“The best sports car teams in the world have competed in the American Le Mans Series over the last 11 years, but it is impossible to think of one that has generated more success than Corvette Racing – both on and off the track,” said ALMS President and CEO Scott Atherton. “The countless people at Corvette Racing, GM and Pratt & Miller who have made this program the most popular among our fans and dominant among its competitors have every reason to be proud as they have made history and rewritten the record book in GT1.

“Corvette Racing has been a benchmark example of developing technology on the race track that gets transferred to the road car,” Atherton said. “It has succeeded with every challenge, the latest being the pioneering use of cellulosic E85 in the American Le Mans Series. While this marks the end of one era, it signals the start of another with Corvette’s imminent GT2 program. The fight and might it will bring to what already is the most competitive class in the American Le Mans Series will make it even more of a spectacle for fans – especially the legions of Corvette fans – around the world.”

“Long Beach is a great place to say goodbye to GT1 in the United States,” said Corvette Racing program manager Doug Fehan. “The race is a hugely successful event attended by thousands of fans, so it’s a very fitting place to finish the GT1 program by taking the Corvettes to the people.”

“When the checkered flag falls at Long Beach, I think it will be a moving experience for everyone on the team,” Fehan said. “It will mark the closing of one chapter, the likes of which will never be written again in Corvette history.”

One More Stop On The GT1 Farewell Tour


Corvette Racing still had unfinished business at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The most successful team in American Le Mans Series history had won its class five times in the classic 24-hour French endurance race (2001-02, 2004-06). They had established Corvette as a global performance icon. Now after runner-up finishes at Le Mans in 2007 and 2008, Corvette Racing had one thing left to do. Win its sixth Le Mans title at the Circuit des 24 Heures.

On June 14, 2009 Corvette Racing brought down the curtain on the GT1 era with the team’s victory in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Johnny O’Connell, Jan Magnussen and Antonio Garcia had scored Corvette Racing’s sixth class victory in the world’s biggest sports car race. The winning No. 63 Compuware Corvette C6.R completed 342 laps, and put a six-lap margin of victory over the No. 73 Luc Alphand Aventures Corvette C6.R of Yann Clairay, Julien Jousse and Xavier Maassen.

The win was Corvette Racing’s 16th podium finish at Le Mans since 2000.

“When you look at the Americans who have won here multiple times, they’re all important figures in motorsports history,” said Johnny O’Connell. “To achieve my fourth win with Corvette Racing, driving a sports car that’s an American icon, it’s hard to put that into words. There is nothing more difficult and more rewarding than winning here, and sharing it with two awesome drivers like Jan and Antonio.”

The two Corvettes waged a fierce battle throughout 22 of the 24 hours. They were never separated by more than one lap. Starting from the pole, the No. 63 Corvette C6.R led for 18 hours and 52 minutes. Olivier Beretta then put the No. 64 Corvette C6.R in front, passing Antonio Garcia on a restart. Garcia would regained the lead at 19:23 when Beretta pitted.

At 21:36, Marcel Fassler radioed the crew that the No. 64 Corvette was experiencing shifting problems. The gearbox problem intensified, and the car was stranded near the pit lane entrance when it lost drive to the rear wheels. In contrast, the No. 63 Corvette had a trouble-free run throughout the grueling 24-hour race, making 32 pit stops and never going into the garage for repairs.

This race marked the end of the GT1 era for Corvette Racing. Since 1999, Corvette Racing has become America’s premier production sports car team, winning 77 races and eight consecutive American Le Mans Series championships.

“When you look at all aspects of the close of the GT1 category as we know it today, it is an unequivocal testament to the commitment of a corporation that recognizes the value of motorsports from a marketing and technological perspective,” said Corvette Racing program manager Doug Fehan. “It’s also representative of all the people who have been here since the beginning, who dedicated themselves to taking Corvette forward. At the end of the day, today’s victory is emblematic of what American teamwork and American spirit is about.”

[VIEW CORVETTE AT LE MANS GALLERY - RICK DOLE / REGIS LEFEBURE]

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