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BALTIMORE, Sept. 1, 2012 – Corvette Racing encountered heavy holiday traffic on the streets of Baltimore today, finishing second and sixth in the Baltimore Sports Car Challenge. Oliver Gavin and Tommy Milner labored long and hard on the Labor Day weekend to bring the No. 4 Compuware Corvette C6.R across the finish line second, 2.2 seconds behind the winning No. 17 Porsche of Bryan Sellers and Wolf Henzler. That result increased their lead in the GT driver championship as their closest rivals finished down the order. Antonio Garcia and Jan Magnussen battled back after a tire puncture on the first lap dropped the No. 3 Compuware Corvette C6.R to last place. With their sixth-place finish, Garcia and Magnussen retained second place in the GT driver standings.
The top eight GT cars finished on the same lap, completing 67 tours around the 2.0-mile temporary street course in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor in the two-hour race. The GT-winning Porsche finished fourth overall, and the Gavin/Milner Corvette was fifth overall. The first four finishers in the closely contested GT category represented four different manufacturers: Porsche, Chevrolet, Ferrari, and BMW.
“I just kept thinking about the bigger picture in the closing laps,” Gavin said. “I caught Bryan pretty quickly, but he was driving well and not making mistakes. We had a number of cautions, and he was better than us on the restarts. Once we got into those caution periods, I realized that we needed to think about the championship points. Of course we want to win, but we didn’t want to risk throwing it away. We’ve extended our lead in the standings with two more races to go. We’re certainly not taking anything for granted.”
Milner started the No. 4 Corvette C6.R on the GT pole, and Garcia started third in the No. 3 Corvette C6.R. The first lap saw a traffic jam as several prototypes tangled and blocked the first turn; Milner and Garcia made it through, but the No. 3 suffered a slow puncture and had to pit on the third lap, falling to 12th in the GT class. Milner led for the first 10 laps before he was blocked by a prototype and passed by the No. 55 BMW and the No. 17 Porsche. The BMW was penalized for avoidable contact, but the No. 01 Ferrari got by Milner before a pit stop and driver change at 48 minutes into the race. Gavin took over and was second after the pit stop cycle, a position he held to the checkered flag.
“The start was a mess, as I expected,” Milner said. “We were lucky – the No. 3 Corvette had a puncture and we had some light contact. I was in the right place at the right time and was able to squeeze through without much damage. The car was tough to drive, though, and I was really working hard.
“We always want to win a race, but today second place feels like a victory,” he added. “We got good points in the driver championship and gained ground for Chevrolet in the manufacturer points. These races are so tough – starting on pole and being fast all weekend, you’d like to win, but it didn’t work out that way today. We made the most with what we had, and that’s what counts now.”
After Garcia pitted early, he moved up to sixth before handing off to Magnussen at the 46-minute mark. Magnussen emerged in seventh, and passed the No. 48 Porsche for sixth, a position he held to the checkered flag.
“Nobody touched me in the first turn, I just followed Tommy around and got a puncture,” Garcia said. “I saw out of the corner of my eye that somebody misjudged where he was going. I could make up two or three seconds, but when you are 20 or 25 seconds behind, you need some help with yellow flags.”
Magnussen agreed with his teammate: “The car was fast, we were catching the guys in front, but when you get put back like that in the beginning of a race, you have to be very lucky with strategy,” he said. “I just kept pushing as hard as I could, the car was fantastic, but the luck didn’t go our way.”
Gavin and Milner now unofficially lead the GT driver championship by 28 points over teammates Magnussen and Milner (124-96). BMW driver Dirk Mueller is third with 94 points, and Joey Hand fourth with 91. Chevrolet leads the GT manufacturer championship by 19 points over BMW (145-126) with two races remaining, followed by Porsche (123) and Ferrari (110).
“Our sole strategic mission today was to finish ahead of the BMW,” said Corvette Racing program manager Doug Fehan. “Ordinarily we might take a slightly different perspective, but at a street race like this, with such closely matched cars, you have to have realistic goals. Our objective was to finish ahead of the BMW today, and we accomplished that. I’m proud of this team for its performance under pressure.”
Corvette Racing’s next event is the American Le Mans Series VIR 240 at Virginia International Raceway on Saturday, Sept. 15.
Baltimore Sports Car Challenge GT Results (Top 10)
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