Corvette Takes Third Consecutive GTS Victory at Sebring
Ron Fellows, Johnny O'Connell and Max Papis win legendary 12-hour race
SEBRING, Fla. – The General Motors Chevrolet Corvette Racing team took
an impressive flag-to-flag GTS victory at the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring on
Saturday. Ron Fellows, Johnny O'Connell and Max Papis claimed the class victory in
the #3 Corvette C5-R.
"This is an historic race and it is great for us to win here three times
in a row," said Doug Duchardt, director of GM Racing. "Sebring was our
nemesis in the beginning of our program and we've really put a lot of effort into
developing the Corvette for this track. I believe we showed this weekend that we
had the fastest car. This is a great win for the team and we are really looking
forward to going to Le Mans and being competitive at La Sarthe."
The #3 Compuware Corvette C5-R of Ron Fellows, Johnny O'Connell and Max Papis
started Saturday's race from the GTS pole position, 10th overall, after qualifying
at a record-setting 1:57.052. The trio briefly surrendered the lead to the partner
#4 Corvette C5-R, but again took over the lead on lap 30 and held on for the
remaining 299 laps.
"The quality, determination and work ethic of this team never ceases to
amaze me," said Doug Fehan, GM's program manager for Corvette Racing.
"All winter this crew absolutely dedicated themselves to improving what we do
and today was the culmination of that. It was just an amazing performance for
Chevrolet and Corvette."
Ron Fellows and Johnny O'Connell notched their third straight win
together at Sebring; new teammate Max Papis recorded his first win in his first
ever drive in the Corvette C5-R.
"My teammates and I have had such good fortune here not only to win but to
race the Corvette," said O'Connell. "History will record the Corvette
C5-R as one of the most important race cars of all time. The car was running
strong from start to finish and we did not have any problems whatsoever. My hat
goes off to our crew for their hard work this weekend."
With Saturday's victory, O'Connell becomes the first driver in the 52-year
history of Sebring International Raceway to capture six class wins, with one of
them overall in 1994.
The #4 Corvette C5-R started off from the back of the grid when officials
withdrew Oliver Gavin's qualifying time after the car's rear wing endplates were
found to be out of specification. Gavin marched through the pack and took over the
lead but eventually surrendered position after a stop-and-go penalty for driving
over an air hose during a pit stop at lap 27. On lap 84, Gavin took over from Jan
Magnussen and complained of a soft clutch pedal; the Briton was only able to go
halfway around the 3.7-mile circuit before pulling off course, unable to keep the
car engaged in gear. The Corvette Racing team withdrew the car as it was unable to
come back to the pits under its own power.
"The #4 team did not have a successful day but as a team we have a car on
the top step of the podium and that is most important," said Olivier Beretta,
driver of the #4 Corvette C5-R. "I have always wanted to race for this team
so today I am very proud to be a part of Corvette Racing. Next we go to Le Mans
and we are all very excited."
The Corvette Racing team will next take to the track in April for Open Testing
before the 24 Hours of Le Mans in France.
|Provisional Results (GTS Class)
||#3 Chevrolet Corvette C5-R
||#25 Ferrari 575 GTC
||#63 Saleen S7R
||#71 Dodge Viper GTS-R
||#26 Ferrari 575 GTC
||#4 Chevrolet Corvette C5-R