Corvette Racing Finishes Third in Inaugural Utah Grand Prix
O'Connell and Fellows Are Top Finishers for Chevrolet as Performance Adjustments Handicap Corvettes
SALT LAKE CITY - For the first time since October 2003, Corvette Racing didn't finish first or
second in the GT1 class in American Le Mans Series competition. Ron Fellows and Johnny O'Connell had to
settle for third place in today's inaugural Utah Grand Prix at Miller Motorsports Park as the effects of
series-mandated handicaps throttled the Corvettes' performance at this high-altitude track. The win went
to Aston Martin for the second consecutive race as Tomas Enge and Darren Turner claimed victory over
Stephane Sarrazin and Andrea Piccini. Corvette drivers Oliver Gavin and Olivier Beretta were fourth.
"Racing the Aston Martins under these rules is like playing five-on-four hockey for an entire
game," commented Fellows after the two-hour, 45-minute race.
As a result of performance adjustments imposed by the sanctioning body, the Corvettes went into battle
with 1-mm smaller intake air restrictors, 10-liter smaller fuel tanks, and 199 more pounds than their
"It was a long, hot day, and despite our hard work it was disappointing to finish third,"
said Corvette Racing program manager Doug Fehan. "With the way the rules are now, we never really
had a chance."
"I'm proud of the team for coming out here, going full throttle all afternoon, and representing
Corvette to the best of our ability in this situation," Fehan continued. "They did a great job,
and they never gave up."
The performance imbalance became apparent shortly after the race began at 6:05 p.m. as the Aston
Martins opened a gap and then led every lap. Fellows and Gavin started in the No. 3 and No. 4 Compuware
Corvette C6.Rs respectively, but the front-running Aston enjoyed a 15-second lead after four laps around
the 4.5-mile road course. The Corvettes moved to second and third at the one-hour mark when an Aston made
an early pit stop for tires. Beretta took over from Gavin and O'Connell replaced Fellows on the first
round of pit stops after completing 26 laps, but 10 minutes later, the Astons were running first and
second on fresh rubber.
The race's only full-course caution period with 25 minutes remaining sealed the Corvettes' fate as the
yellow cars were caught behind the safety car and Enge gained nearly a lap. When the pits reopened, the
Corvettes made their final pit stops for fuel only, but couldn't make up the deficit to the Aston Martins
in the closing laps. O'Connell passed Beretta with nine minutes remaining to take the final place on the
"That was hard work today," O'Connell declared. "It's an amazing track and we gave it
everything we could, but with these rules it's not a fair fight. That was as hard as we could race. We
hoped their times would fall off with worn tires, but they didn't, so congratulations to Aston Martin
Racing. Maybe today's race will show the powers that be that they have gone too far."
Gavin agreed: "It was a hard and hot race today," he said. "Early on we had a lot of
trouble passing the LMP2 cars, and if we hadn't had that problem we might have been closer. This
equalization rule is crazy; to pass the Astons would have been extremely difficult because they're just
so fast on the straights. You have to wait for them to make a mistake, and that's how I got around
Sarrazin when he made a mistake in Turn 3."
Today's Utah Grand Prix will be televised tape-delayed by CBS Sports on Sunday, July 16, at 2 p.m.
EDT. Corvette Racing's next event is the Portland Grand Prix at Portland International Raceway on
Saturday, July 22. The sixth round of the 10-race ALMS will be televised tape-delayed by CBS Sports on
Sunday, July 23, starting at 3 p.m. EDT.
Utah Grand Prix GT1 Results
1. Enge/Turner, Aston Martin DBR9, 62
2. Piccini/Sarrazin, Aston Martin DBR9, 61
3. Fellows/O'Connell, Chevrolet Corvette C6.R, 61
4. Gavin/Beretta, Chevrolet Corvette C6.R, 61
July 20-22, Portland Grand Prix, Portland International Raceway, Portland, Ore., 1.94-mile road course
TV: CBS Sports, July 23, 3 p.m. EDT
Release Date: July 15, 2006