The Alley

GT – Corvette Captures Last Lap Win, Michelin Sweeps Podium

Oliver Gavin celebrates with the Michelin Man after Corvette's first win in 2010. Photo credit: Rick Dole for Michelin North America

This year, the competition in the American Le Mans Series’ GT class has been nothing short of staggering. At any point, seven or eight cars could be separated by merely a few tenths of a second. While Corvette Racing has been close all season, they had yet to break through prior to this weekend.

Cross that one off the to-do list.

Winless in 2010, but having starred at the most recent endurance race, the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Corvette was set on securing a victory to end their first full season in the highly competitive GT(2) class. While they led a healthy portion of the race with either the No. 3 or No. 4 ZR1, it took a last lap mishap by one of their competitors for Corvette to get the win.

The way Petit Le Mans played out in GT2, as the class was referred to this race for international specifications (this was part of the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup, held under Automobile Club de l’Ouest sanction), was that every car needed a splash of fuel to make the finish of the race. Risi Competizione pitted its No. 62 Ferrari F430 GT last, giving Toni Vilander what the team thought was enough to make the distance.

Vilander’s car sputtered down the back straight and the No. 4 Corvette of Oliver Gavin screamed past. Gavin, Jan Magnussen and Emmanuel Collard shared the winning Corvette, and the victory meant Magnussen’s streak of winning at least one ALMS race in each of the series’ 12 seasons stays alive.

“The win was a huge surprise to everybody,” Magnussen said. “We were expecting like everyone to settle for second. We weren’t cheering that much. We saw Gavin’s name pop in the lead. Gavin didn’t know he won until turn 1 or turn 3 until one of the engineers told him.”

Corvette’s win wasn’t the only ramification to come out of Risi’s demise. The result meant Ferrari was also denied the manufacturer’s championship, in the last race for the F430.

BMW and Rahal Letterman took the manufacturer’s and team’s titles as a result, but ironically, this was the first race this season neither of their two M3s finished on the podium.

Risi fell to third, a lap down, behind the Extreme Speed Ferrari in second. Scott Sharp’s new team captured its first podium and best finish of the season with Sharp, Johannes van Overbeek and Dominik Farnbacher driving. With this result, Michelin technical partner teams swept the GT class podium for the first time this season.

After those three, the No. 92 BMW finished fourth ahead of the No. 45 Flying Lizard Porsche and No. 3 Corvette. The BMW took their first ALMS win in the MICHELIN® GREEN X® Challenge in their Cellulosic E85R-fueled M3, while the Lizards hung on to win the driver’s title with Patrick Long and Joerg Bergmeister.

Porsche’s Hybrid ran similar lap times to the leading GT2 competitors and finished a very reasonable 18th place overall with drivers Timo Bernhard, Romain Dumas and Mike Rockenfeller.

“We proved the Hybrid has both performance and reliability,” said Dr. Daniel Armbruster, manager of Porsche Motorsport development/systems.

Andy Lally, Henri Richard and Duncan Ende won the GT Challenge (GTC) class for TRG ahead of the new class champions Black Swan Racing, with drivers Tim Pappas, Jeroen Bleekemolen and Sebastiaan Bleekemolen.

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