Utah Grand Prix Holds Risks and Rewards for Corvette Racing
First Race on New Track Configuration Is Final Rehearsal for 24 Hours of Le Mans
SALT LAKE CITY - After back-to-back races on concrete-lined street circuits, the Corvette Racing team
will revel in the wide-open spaces of Miller Motorsports Park, the site of Sunday's American Le Mans Series Larry
H. Miller Dealerships Utah Grand Prix. Although the team has raced twice previously at the facility near Salt Lake
City, this will be the first ALMS race held on the circuit's fast 3.048-mile, 15-turn perimeter course. The two
previous ALMS events held at Miller Motorsports Park were contested on the track's twisting 24-turn, 4.5-mile
The Utah Grand Prix is a crucial event for Corvette Racing because it is the final rehearsal for the 24 Hours
of Le Mans, the centerpiece of the Chevrolet factory team's program. Miller Motorsports Park's high-speed turns
and wide, smooth surface replicate the conditions that Corvette Racing will encounter on the immense 8.5-mile
Circuit des 24 Heures du Mans on June 14-15. But with the twin Compuware Corvette C6.R race cars scheduled to be
flown to France just days after the Utah event, it's imperative that they roll into their transporters unscathed
at the conclusion of the two-hour, 45-minute race.
"While the infield course at Miller Motorsports Park is very challenging because there are so many
turns, racing on the perimeter course is a better tune-up for Le Mans," said Steve Wesoloski, GM Racing
Road Racing Group manager. "At more than three miles in length, the outer circuit is still a long track by
most standards, and the addition of the new Turn 7 will make it a very fast course. Eliminating several of the
tight corners in the infield should produce a cleaner race with fewer incidents. Our top priority is to have the
race cars ready to air freight to Le Mans in three days."
Geographically and culturally, Utah's high desert is a world away from France's lush Loire Valley, yet the
Utah and Le Mans race circuits have much in common.
"Without doubt it's a good warm-up for Le Mans," said defending GT1 co-champion Oliver Gavin,
driver of the No. 4 Compuware Corvette C6.R. "It's a circuit that has a good long straight, some reasonably
high-speed corners, and we can run our Le Mans tire specification for the last time before we go to France. It's
a good place for us to run.
"I think the new track configuration for the Utah Grand Prix is going to be a very fast circuit,"
the Briton noted. "Every driver likes a high-speed track, and it's very different to what we had in the
Long Beach and St. Petersburg street circuits. It will be nice to get back into 100 mph corners, will be good
fun to stretch the legs of the Corvette C6.R again."
While the team's eyes are on the Le Mans prize, there is still an ALMS championship to be decided. After
three rounds of the 11-race series, Jan Magnussen and Johnny O'Connell hold a four-point lead over Gavin and
Olivier Beretta in the GT1 drivers championship on the strength of two victories.
"I liked the course we raced on last year at Miller Motorsports Park, but it does make it difficult in
traffic," said Magnussen. "I think because the speeds will be higher on the new circuit, this will be
a good track for us to run before Le Mans. Last year was good for us when we went from there to France - we were
well prepared. I'm looking forward to going back to Salt Lake City."
Corvette Racing's next event is the American Le Mans Series Larry H. Miller Dealerships Utah Grand Prix
presented by The Grand and Little America Hotels at Miller Motorsports Park in Tooele, Utah, on Sunday, May 18,
at 1:05 p.m. MT. SPEED will broadcast the two-hour, 45-minute race live at 3 p.m. ET.
Release Date: May 13, 2008