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Corvette Racing scores 50th victory in Portland Grand Prix

25th July 2006 Print
Record-breaking heat gave way to a history-making performance on Sunday July 23 as Oliver Gavin and Olivier Beretta notched up Corvette Racing's 50th international road racing victory in Portland, Oregon. The duo’s Corvette C6.R finished a comfortable 54.8 seconds ahead of the second-placed Aston Martin DBR9, while Corvette teammates Ron Fellows and Johnny O'Connell finished third. Beretta and Gavin’s 5th win of the year strengthened their hold on the American Le Mans Series GT1 championship with 106 points, 12 ahead of their Aston Martin rivals. Fellows and O'Connell are currently third in the championship race with 90 points.

The scorching heat in Portland failed to impede the equally scorching performance of the Gavin/Beretta Corvette, despite having to contend with a malfunctioning air conditioner in the hottest part of the day. Beretta, who qualified on the GT1 pole, took the lead at the green flag but was pressured constantly by the twin Aston Martin DBR9’s. A full-course yellow flag caution 50 minutes into the race triggered a round of pit stops and driver changes, and swift work from the Corvette crew put the two Corvette C6.Rs back on to the track in first and second places. One of the Aston Martin’s regained second place during the final round of pit stops with 30 minutes of racing remaining.

“That was without a doubt the most physically demanding battle we've ever had,” said O'Connell, who drove the third-placed Corvette C6.R with Ron Fellows. “Unfortunately our air conditioner wasn't working, and at times it was very difficult to breathe. There are moments when you want to quit, but you can't because you know the team is pulling for you.”

Corvette Racing's milestone 50th win coincides with the brand’s 50th anniversary in international road racing. The team’s résumé includes 44 victories in the American Le Mans Series and six wins in major 24-hour races - five at Le Mans, and a victory in the Rolex 24 at Daytona.

“It's fantastic to be part of Corvette's 50th victory,” said Oliver Gavin. “The car was great and the Michelin tyres stood up extremely well under very hot conditions. We just managed everything as best we could and slowly eked out a strong lead. It was a hard fought battle in very difficult circumstances.”