08-26-2007: O'Connell and Magnussen Win GT1 in Mosport ALMS
Source: Corvette Racing
Speed and Good Fortune Favor No. 3 Corvette C6.R in Canadian Round
BOWMANVILLE, Ontario - The last time that Johnny O'Connell and Jan Magnussen stood together in the Mosport International Raceway winner's circle was in 1999 after the pair won the LMP1 class in a Panoz prototype. The Corvette Racing teammates reprised that winning performance today in the Grand Prix of Mosport to take the GT1 title with a 57-second margin of victory over Oliver Gavin and Olivier Beretta in the No. 4 Compuware Corvette C6.R. Fan favorite Ron Fellows and Andy Pilgrim finished third in their bright white No. 33 Compuware Corvette.
Corvette Racing fielded three entries for the ninth round of the American Le Mans Series, and all three C6.Rs completed 116 laps of the fast 2.459-mile Mosport circuit. But the results conceal the different fates of the three cars. Gavin lost the lead in the first stint after contact with an impatient prototype driver, and a punctured tire in the final stint sealed his fate. In contrast, Magnussen and Beretta eluded the bad luck that has dogged them this season, making a flawless run to the finish of the two-hour, 45-minute race.
"You can't keep having the kind of luck that we've been having," said O'Connell. "There are so many races that we should have won but didn't. I think we had the strongest car today. We have to thank our new engineer, Ben Brady. We've been working to get that winning chemistry, and everything went right today. Hopefully we can keep this going into the next race in Detroit. It's going to be a big one for us in GM's backyard, and we want to show off."
Today's victory was the second of the season for the No. 3 Corvette C6.R. O'Connell notched his 27th career ALMS win, Magnussen tallied his 15th ALMS victory, and Corvette Racing logged its 60th race win in the record book.
"Since the day we arrived here, we've had a very fast car," said Magnussen. "We've been working well with the engineers and mechanics to get that little bit more out of it. What we ended up with was a race car that was easy to drive fast and very good in traffic. It's been an easy day because things were going our way, not against us. I'm so happy - the team's awesome and the Corvette C6.R is awesome!"
The decisive moment came at the 55-minute mark when Gavin was spun off the track by a prototype, falling from first to third in the GT1 class. Gavin pitted ahead of schedule after the incident, and when a full-course caution began eight minutes later, the No. 4 Corvette C6.R was caught at the rear of the queue. The LMP2 was subsequently penalized for avoidable contact.
"We were just coming around for the first round of pit stops, and I could see Jon Field behind me," Gavin reported. "I should have known he was going to stick it in there and perhaps I hadn't given him enough room, but it was my corner. He hit my right rear with his left front and spun me around. That turned our race upside down, going from first to third."
"We had a lot of bad luck in this race, and sometimes you get races like this," Gavin reflected. "We were fortunate to be able to recover and get second place. The team did a brilliant job with the pit stops and the spotting. It was a good race between all three cars. Congratulations to the No. 3 Corvette; they ran a faultless race and were very fast."
The hometown favorite was the brilliant white No. 33 Corvette C6.R of Fellows and Pilgrim. The pair was also caught out on the first full-course caution period, but the white car held second place for most of the race before being passed by Gavin two minutes before the checkered flag.
"I had a blast!" Pilgrim declared. "I'm really proud to race with Ron in Canada, and I've had a wonderful time. The Corvette C6.R is an amazing machine. I've gone four seconds a lap faster around Mosport than I ever went in the C5-R."
"I had limited seat time in the car before the race, but had a really good stint," Pilgrim noted. "I was able to pick up the pace, so I feel good about that."
Fellows was the center of attention throughout the weekend as he drove in both the ALMS and SCCA SPEED World Challenge events at his home track.
"It was very cool to run the white car with Andy," said Fellows. "He did a great job, and when it was time to race, he did what he needed to do. I'm happy for my pal Johnny to win here at Mosport - it makes up for the ones that got away from the two of us!"
"The fans' attention is incredibly flattering," Fellows reflected. "You need to cherish those moments because they're not going to happen forever. I'll never forget it."
Corvette Racing's next event is the Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix in Detroit Saturday, Sept. 1. SPEED Channel will televise the race live at 3 p.m. EDT.