Corvette Racing at Mid-Ohio: Midterm Report and a Rivalry Renewed
A Look Back and a Look Ahead at the Midpoint of 2012 ALMS Season
LEXINGTON, Ohio, July 31, 2012 – With five races completed and five to go, Corvette Racing will be halfway home at its home track. Saturday's Mid-Ohio Sports Car Challenge at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course signals the start of the second half of the 2012 American Le Mans Series. At the season's midpoint, Corvette Racing and Chevrolet stand atop the driver, team, and manufacturer championship standings. The fierce competition that has been the hallmark of the GT category is about to become more intense with the return of one of Corvette's longstanding rivals to ALMS competition.
In the first five races, Corvette Racing scored back-to-back wins with Oliver Gavin and Tommy Milner in the No. 4 Compuware Corvette C6.R in Long Beach and Laguna Seca. Third-place finishes in Sebring and Lime Rock put the pair in the championship lead after the first four rounds. Then a setback in Mosport, combined with the No. 3 Compuware Corvette's fourth runner-up finish in five starts, saw Corvette aces Antonio Garcia and Jan Magnussen take the lead in the championship chase by seven points over their teammates.
"When you look at Corvette Racing's record for the first half of the season, the results demonstrate the experience and knowledge the team has gained since the debut of the GT-spec Corvette C6.R at Mid-Ohio in 2009," said Corvette Racing program manager Doug Fehan. "With the level of competition we face at every ALMS event, to have two victories, eight podium finishes, a one-two finish, and a pole is a very successful first half by any measure.
"Everyone on the team fully understands that it's not going to get any easier for the rest of the year," Fehan continued. "We're working continuously to improve every aspect of our performance. There is still a great deal of development to be done with the wide-body Corvette C6.R that we introduced this year. I expect that Corvette fans are going to see a great show for the rest of the season."
When Corvette Racing first entered international endurance racing in 1999, its chief competitor was Viper. That rivalry will be renewed at Mid-Ohio with Chrysler's return to ALMS competition.
"History has come full circle, and now it's once again Corvette versus Viper in ALMS – this time with world-class competitors such as Ferrari, Porsche, BMW, and Lotus in the mix," Fehan noted. "Chrysler's return makes a huge statement about the strength of the American Le Mans Series."
Corvette Racing has recorded three straight runner-up finishes in the GT class at Mid-Ohio – Magnussen and Johnny O'Connell in 2009, Gavin and Olivier Beretta in 2010, and Gavin/Magnussen in 2011. Last year's race ended with a red flag when a monsoon inundated the track; among the drivers who spun off in the deluge was Milner, who was running second when the torrential rain arrived.
"I've raced at Mid-Ohio since 2004, in open-wheel cars and GTs, so there's not much I don't know about the track," Milner said. "It's a place where you can make passes happen, and it usually produces an exciting race. The Corvettes were certainly competitive there last year, and with the improvements that have been made, I expect them to be even better this year."
"Mid-Ohio has been a good track for us in terms of pace and speed the last couple of years," Gavin explained. "Last year if the rain had turned up 45 minutes later, we likely would have won. Mid-Ohio is Corvette Racing's home race with lots of friends and family. The circuit seems to suit our car, and with the steps forward taken for this season, we hope to be as competitive as we've been the last couple of years. Every team is making steps every race, so nobody at Corvette Racing is taking anything for granted."
Garcia has raced previously at Mid-Ohio in the Grand-Am series, so Corvette Racing's new full-season driver will be up to speed quickly on the 2.25-mile, 13-turn road course.
"Mid-Ohio is one of the tracks I know, so I will just need to reconfigure my mind a little from a Daytona Prototype to a Corvette C6.R," Garcia laughed. "This will take a few laps at most – first some driver tuning, and then some car tuning!
"Mid-Ohio is like two different circuits," the Spaniard said. "The first part has long straights and fast corners, then the second half is very tight with a narrow racing line. It is definitely a track where you have to deal with traffic. From what I've learned so far this season, Mid-Ohio will suit the Corvette C6.R."
The two-hour, 45-minute Mid-Ohio Sports Car Challenge, the sixth round of the 2012 American Le Mans Series, will start at 1:05 p.m. ET on Saturday, August 4, and will be broadcast on ABC at 2 p.m. ET.