Corvette C5-R Captures 30th Victory in 50 Races
Fellows and O'Connell win at Sonoma's Infineon Raceway
SONOMA, Calif. - The General Motors Chevrolet Corvette Racing
team captured its 30th victory in 50 races on Sunday at Sonoma's
Infineon Raceway. Ron Fellows and Johnny O'Connell won the GTS class
at Round 4 of the American Le Mans Series, their fourth straight
victory at the circuit and the fifth straight win for Corvette in
"This team continues to demonstrate resolve in the face of
adversity," said Doug Fehan, GM's program manager for Corvette
Racing. "Our crew has the experience of going through wars, can
comprehend what's happened and can focus on what we need to do to
survive. This is just an incredible group of individuals."
The Corvette Racing team started Sunday's race with two cars after
an incident during morning warmup at Infineon Raceway. Dale
Earnhardt, Jr. had an accident when he left the track at Turn 8 in
his #8 Corvette C5-R.
"Although we're happy about our 30th victory, we had an
unfortunate incident in morning warmup today with our #8
Corvette," said Fehan. "The accident was caused by a
combination of many factors, including a slick race track, cold
tires and a full tank of fuel. The hit was so hard that it broke the
filler neck off the fuel cell and caused a fire. We know Dale Jr.
wished he could have been back here at the race with us and we
definitely won this one for him."
Earnhardt, Jr. was treated for minor burns and was taken to UC Davis
Hospital for precautionary measures, where he will be held overnight
"I'm bummed out and disappointed I couldn't run the race,"
said Earnhardt, Jr. from his hospital room.
"We believe it is a testament to the way that the Corvette has
been engineered that Dale Jr. was able to get himself out of the car
after taking such a hard hit," said Fehan. "We engineer
front and rear crash zones into the car, as well as a special
aluminum side crash box. We don't like to see any of our drivers
involved in incidents like this, but when they do happen we're glad
they have the protection of the Corvette chassis around them."
On a morning which was marked by disappointment, drivers Ron Fellows
and Johnny O'Connell lifted the spirits of the team after taking
their fourth straight GTS class victory at Sonoma. The duo leads the
GTS class drivers' championship hunt.
"Johnny and I always love coming to this track," said
Fellows, who has 22 wins in 50 starts with Corvette. "Johnny
taught here for some time and it's just a great place to race. It's
awesome that the team can say we've won 30 out of 50 races-I can
remember the first one very well. You're only as good as your last
race so I suppose Johnny and I are doing quite well right now!"
O'Connell, who has collected a remarkable 21 Corvette C5-R wins in
36 starts, said that he did his best to manage the condition of the
car for the remainder of the race.
"The car was a bit loose during my stint and I wasn't trying to
push that hard," said O'Connell. "Ron ran very well and he
really did a great job on those two stints. When I got in the car I
cruised and took advantage of what happened on the track. Once again
Ron and I did what we had to do to cross the finish line
The #4 Corvette C5-R of Oliver Gavin and Olivier Beretta climbed
back to third position after a massive crash on lap 54 which sent
Gavin into the tire barriers after Turn 1. The damaged Corvette was
immediately brought back to the garage, where the crew installed a
new nose and a new right toe link. The repairs stole approximately
14 laps from the leaders. Olivier Beretta took over for Gavin and
had to deal with the lack of power steering and a crooked steering
wheel, but still managed to set amazingly fast laps.
"I drove with the steering wheel crooked and the power steering
gone," said Beretta. "The crew did a great job to repair
the car after that big accident. It was not perfect but I was able
to get us back to third place."
"It's great that given the accident we were still able to
finish third," said Gavin. "Olivier did a great job once
again and we're glad we got some points out of this race."
Celebrating the team's 50th race was made special by the addition of
Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and Boris Said in a third Corvette C5-R. While
the early withdrawal disappointed the crew, team members reported
that the performance of the two drivers was right up to par
throughout the weekend.
"Dale Jr. and Boris stepped right in and immediately tuned in
to what the car was doing-their feedback was great," said Doug
Louth, engineering manager for Corvette Racing. "Their lap
times were right there and everyone on the team was very
disappointed that they didn't get a chance to race. Those cold,
slippery conditions could have caused the same to happen to our
other drivers who have years of experience in the car. We're happy
that the Corvette chassis has been engineered to withstand that sort
of impact and we hope we can put them in the car again in the
The Corvette Racing team will return to the track this next weekend
at Portland International Raceway.
|Provisional Results (GTS Class)
||#3 Chevrolet Corvette C5-R
||#6 Lamborghini Murcielago
||#4 Chevrolet Corvette C5-R
||#71 Dodge Viper GTS-R
||#63 Saleen S7R
||#5 Lamborghini Murcielago
||#8 Chevrolet Corvette C5-R
||Earnhardt, Jr., Said