Bowtie Bullet Points: Chevy Notes for Portland
Chevrolet undefeated at the halfway mark in 2004
PORTLAND - The General Motors Chevrolet Corvette Racing team
will compete at Portland International Raceway this weekend with
hopes of continuing a remarkable winning streak in the 2004 season.
The defending champions hold a five-race winning streak and have a
commanding lead in the ALMS manufacturers' championship while Ron
Fellows and Johnny O'Connell cling to a 33-point lead in the
Return to Portland
After an absence of two years, the American Le Mans Series returns
to Portland International Raceway, one of North America's classic
road racing venues. Located in a city park in Northwest Portland,
the 1.944-mile, 12-turn raceway was one of the original venues on
the ALMS schedule when the series was founded in 1999. The track
also hosted events in 2000 and 2001. The track surface consists of
mostly asphalt, with concrete for the "festival turn"
section, with no banked corners and only five feet of elevation
The raceway complex, which also includes a drag strip, is used
nearly every day of the year for amateur and club racing events,
testing, driving schools, etc. The long history of the raceway
includes IMSA-sanctioned events in the former Camel GT Series in the
The site sits on the former location of the World War II city of
Vanport, which was wiped out by a flood in 1948. The Army Corps of
Engineers sold the site to the City of Portland in 1960 and in 1961
the first Rose Cup races were held. Most recently, ALMS fans will
recall that Olivier Beretta won the GTS class at Portland in 1999
and 2000 behind the wheel of a Dodge Viper. The Chevrolet driver
will attempt to win his third this weekend along with co-driver
Engineering the Corvettes for Portland
With temperatures approaching-and in some cases, exceeding-100
degrees Fahrenheit, Corvette engineers have the responsibility of
tuning the cars for the unique track conditions. "Portland is a
change from the last three tracks in that there are no elevation
changes and the two straights comprise a much bigger percentage of a
lap," said Doug Louth, engineering manager for the Corvette
Racing team. "Many initial chassis parameters, including ride
heights and spring and damper packages have all changed accordingly.
Tire and brake duty cycles are quite different as well which will
affect tire pressure and temperature management, especially on
Friday and Saturday with temperatures near 100 degrees."
The New "Old" Qualifying Format
This weekend will return to the "old" style of qualifying
for the American Le Mans Series teams. Cars can run as many laps as
possible during the 20 minutes with the fastest counting as a
qualifying time. Last weekend at Sonoma, the series introduced a new
form of "single-car" qualifying, which was in a one-race
trial. The format was designed to increase the drama of competition
by giving drivers more of an opportunity to post their best lap
times on a track clear of traffic. Unlike single-car qualifying
formats used in many other forms of racing, the format for the ALMS
had multiple cars on the track at the same time, dispatched
individually at specific intervals timed to maximize the opportunity
for each car to have clear track. The cars lined up for qualifying
in reverse order of the fastest lap achieved by each car in the
practice session immediately prior to qualifying. The fastest cars
were therefore placed at the end of the line, building drama during
the qualifying session while drivers competed for the overall pole
as well as individual class poles. Each car received a total of four
laps on the track during the qualifying session, including an out
lap, two flying laps and an in-lap. Oliver Gavin, driver of the #4
Corvette C5-R, set the fastest GTS lap in the new format.
Corvette Drivers Lead Points Race
Ron Fellows and Johnny O'Connell are on pace to claim a second
consecutive drivers' title in the GTS class of the ALMS; Fellows
would be winning his third. The duo holds the leads with 82 points,
followed by Oliver Gavin and Olivier Beretta with 49. Chevrolet
holds a commanding lead in the manufacturers' championship with 86
points, followed by Saleen with 45 points and Lamborghini with 26.
While the team's current winning steak is impressive at five
victories, the team's all-time best winning streak stands at nine,
when the Chevrolets won every single race between Petit Le Mans 2001
through the Mosport race of 2002.
Corvettes Fastest In Friday Practice
The two factory Corvettes set the fastest times in the GTS class
during practice on Friday afternoon. The Corvettes eclipsed the
previous qualifying record of 1:11.913, set by Tommy Archer in 1999.
The Corvette Racing team will qualify on Saturday at 3:05 p.m.
Sunday's television coverage begins at 4:00 p.m. EDT on Speed TV.
|Friday Practice Results - GTS Class
||Lamborghini Murcielago R-GT
||Dodge Viper GTS-R
||Lamborghini Murcielago R-GT