Laguna Seca Victory Seals GT1 Championship for Gavin and Beretta
October 17, 2005
MONTEREY, Calif., Oct. 15, 2005 - Oliver Gavin and Olivier Beretta won the battle and won the war today as Corvette Racing won it all in the American Le Mans Series. Gavin and Beretta scored their seventh win in eight races in their No. 4 Compuware Corvette C6.R and claimed the GT1 championship in today's four-hour season finale at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.
Corvette Racing notched its 45th victory and 31st 1-2 finish as Ron Fellows and Johnny O'Connell finished second in the No. 3 Compuware Corvette C6.R to the "two Ollies." Gavin and Beretta won the title by a 19-point margin (196-177) over their teammates.
"I didn't take any risks because my main focus was to finish the race, to score points and to win the championship," said Beretta, who tallied his 24th career ALMS victory, tying the series record held by Fellows and O'Connell. "I was trying to be very calm and to wait for the right spots to overtake. I was thinking about all the effort the crew had made this year. They really deserved the championship and I didn't want to make a mistake."
The victory capped another championship season for the Chevrolet factory team. Corvette Racing swept the GT1 manufacturers championship, the drivers championship, the team championship, and the pit crew championship - along with victories in the 24 Hours of Le Mans and Petit Le Mans.
"It was one of the best races of the season, seeing five GT1 cars all on the same lap and battling it out through the Corkscrew," said Gavin, who ran the fastest lap of the race en route to his 15th ALMS victory. "The Corvette C6.R has come out of the blocks flying, and today it was untouchable. I've been working for this for the last three years, and finally won the drivers championship. I'm very pleased."
The GT1 race was a seesaw battle between the Corvettes, Aston Martins, Saleen and Maserati. The Corvettes were first and second at the one-hour mark, but fourth and fifth after two hours as a four-car train of cars ran nose-to-tail around the 2.238-mile circuit. Fellows then passed four of his rivals to take the point at 2:18, including a spectacular pass of the No. 57 Aston Martin in the Corkscrew.
"There were a couple of places were we were better, and braking was one of them," Fellows reported. "The Corvette has always stopped very well and cornered very well, so I went for it."
The move impressed the newly crowned champions. "The pass that Ron made was the lap of the year," said Gavin.
The turning point came on an exchange of pit stops at 3:07 into the race. The No. 3 Corvette came into the pits first, but a balky rear wheel slowed the stop and gave the advantage to its sister car.
"I saw I was ahead of the No. 3 car going down the pit lane and I thought, 'I must be in the lead!'" Gavin recalled. "I knew we still had to get ahead of the Aston Martin, but they would have to make another pit stop. My car was fantastic today, absolutely hooked up. Nobody could touch us."
"The 2005 season has been another milestone year for Chevrolet and Corvette Racing, and a great way to celebrate Corvette's 50th year in international road racing and the 50th anniversary of the GM small-block V-8," said Ed Peper, Chevrolet general manager. "Everyone at Chevrolet congratulates Oliver Gavin, Olivier Beretta and the entire Corvette Racing team on their outstanding performance today, and we salute Ron Fellows and Johnny O'Connell for their tremendous effort throughout the season.
"Corvette Racing again dominated the GT1 category and continued the winning tradition that began with company co-founder Louis Chevrolet," Peper continued. "There is no better example of the interaction between racing and production than the advanced technology that is shared by the championship-winning Corvette C6.R race car and the award-winning Corvette Z06 supercar."
Corvette Racing's next event is the season-opening Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring in Sebring, Fla., on March 18, 2006. The first round of the 10-race ALMS will be televised live on SPEED Channel.
Monterey Sports Car Championships GT1 Results
1. Gavin/Beretta, Chevrolet Corvette C6.R, 158
2. O'Connell/Fellows, Chevrolet Corvette C6.R, 157
3. Kox/Lamy, Aston Martin DBR9, 156
4. Brabham/Turner, Aston Martin DBR9, 155
5. Borcheller/Mowlem, Saleen S7R, 148
6. Weickardt/Rugolo, Dodge Viper, 137
7. Bertolini/de Simone, Maserati MC12, 94 (accident)