08-03-2007: Corvette Racing at Road America: The European Perspective
Source: Corvette Racing
Eighth Round of American Le Mans Series Will Showcase Horsepower, Handling, and Brave Hearts
ELKHART LAKE, Wis. – The one circuit in North America that every road racer relishes is Road America. The four-mile course carved into the rolling hills of Wisconsin's Kettle Moraine forest is a 14-turn test of horsepower, handling, and bravery. Corvette Racing's quartet of drivers are eager to test their mettle on the Road America circuit when it hosts the four-hour Generac 500 on Saturday, August 11.
Like Le Mans and Spa, Road America is a circuit that commands respect. On July 28-29, customer-owned Corvettes finished first, third, sixth and 10th in the 24-hour FIA GT race at Belgium's famous Spa-Francorchamps circuit in the wooded Ardennes hills. Carsport Holland's C6.R scored an unprecedented overall victory for Chevrolet in a European 24-hour endurance race. Corvette Racing's Oliver Gavin and Olivier Beretta were paired with Vincent Vosse and Greg Franchi in the Luc Alphand Adventures' Corvette C6.R that finished sixth after suffering a punctured tire and a broken throttle linkage in the rain-soaked race. Now the "two Ollies" are looking forward to driving on another classic circuit – this time in America's heartland.
"Road America is a little Spa," said Beretta. "It has very high-speed corners, it goes up and down the hills, and of course there is the Kink. It is a wonderful place, one of the best tracks in America, and I'm very happy to go there."
Gavin agreed: " Road America is one of the last old-style, really challenging tracks that we race on," said the Briton. "It's quite open, it's quite flowing, and it's very fast. You've got good elevation changes, and some really demanding corners like the Carousel and the Kink. It's picturesque, a great track to drive around, and one that I look forward to every year."
Jan Magnussen, the third European driver on the team, will drive a Corvette at Road America for the first time in the Generac 500. He's teamed with Johnny O'Connell in the No. 3 Compuware Corvette C6.R that O'Connell and Ron Fellows drove to victory in last year's race.
"Road America has some really super-fast corners, and not many race tracks have fast corners anymore," observed the Dane. "I've heard many racers say that it's one of their favorite tracks, and I think that's because it's one of the last real race tracks that are left.
"The last time I raced at Road America was with a Ferrari 550 in 2003," Magnussen recalled. "The Corvette C5-Rs were faster than us at that race, but somehow we managed to win. The C6.R is faster than the C5-R was, so I'm looking forward to driving it. Road America is always a good experience."
Magnussen's victory with David Brabham is the only blemish on Corvette Racing's otherwise spotless record at Road America. Andy Pilgrim and Kelly Collins won for Corvette in 2003, and Beretta and Gavin posted back-to-back victories in 2004-05.
"The key to getting around Road America quickly is to make no mistakes, stay focused, be calm, and press the gas pedal," Beretta explained. "It's difficult to have a perfect setup there because you have to deal with some many different corners with different speeds. But we have a lot of experience there, and we always do well."
"You need to be brave, especially in the Carousel and Kink," Gavin added. "The key is carrying the speed through the corners. Not only are we going to be racing hard against our teammates, we're going to be challenging ourselves on every lap."
The four-hour Generac 500 at Road America, the eighth round of the 12-race ALMS series, will start at 4 p.m. CDT on Saturday, August 11. NBC Sports will televise the race tape-delayed at 2:30 p.m. EDT on Sunday, August 12.