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(LONG BEACH, Calif., April 19, 2013) – Corvette Racing returns to where its championship season in 2012 earned its first of four victories: The 1.968-mile, 11-turn Long Beach Street Circuit.
Oliver Gavin and Tommy Milner, co-drivers of the No. 4 Compuware Corvette C6.R, won at Long Beach last year en route to the Team and Driver championships. It was their first victory as a team, and Milner’s first victory in the American Le Mans Series.
“Long Beach was the start of the run to the Championship for Tommy and me,” Gavin said. “As you so often have to be on street races, we were a little lucky in that the two cars in front of us on the grid had issues on the fourth corner of the race and their race was compromised from there on. We still had to battle our way from then on to the front but our car was good straight off and that was a big plus point.”
One of the keys at Long Beach, Gavin said, is the very last turn.
“The most important corner on the track is the last one and getting off that corner well is vital for lap time and opportunities to overtake other cars,” Gavin said. “If you can get into someone’s tow on the straight it’s the best chance you get to pass others going into Turn 1. Street tracks are always a bit of a lottery, but if you are able to switch on your tires fast, ride the bumps easily and go through and off the corners well, you’ve got a good chance to be fast.”
Doug Fehan, Corvette Racing Program Manager, agrees that luck is important, particularly on street courses.
“There’s a formula that I like to extoll, and it’s for any race: It’s 25 percent great car, 25 percent great team and 50 percent good luck,” Fehan said. “And that gets modified just a little bit when you go to street races, and the good-luck portion plays a much greater role. Because you have a great car and a great team, but in a street race anything can happen to you – from turn one, lap one to turn 10, final lap of the race. You’ve got to have good fortune on your side. Anybody who wins at Long Beach, has good fortune on that day. That’s just the way street races work.”
Corvette Racing, which also won the 2012 ALMS Manufacturer Championship, opened the 2013 season with a victory last month. Milner made a late pass for the lead and held on for the final 15 minutes as the No. 4 GT Compuware Corvette C6.R overcame an early electrical issue and two key penalties to win the GT class 61st Annual Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring at Sebring International Raceway.
Fehan thinks the one-month break between the first two races will be a good thing for the two Corvette Racing teams.
“It lets the guys wind down a little bit, and you clearly get to take more time and get the car correct and ready for the next race,” Fehan said. “There’s a huge emotional build-up to that event at Sebring, and a huge emotional release when you’re victorious, so to have a little extra time to catch your breath, get yourself sorted out, and enjoy and contemplate what you’ve accomplished, and then re-focus on what you have to do. So, the break is actually pretty good.”
The No. 3 Compuware Corvette C6.R, driven by Antonio Garcia and Jan Magnussen, looks to bounce back from an electrical issue at Sebring.
“The issues that we had with the 3 team at Sebring were just devastating,” Fehan said. “As it turns out, a simple little pin on one little wire, and it took those guys out of contention – and they had a car that was good enough to win. Now, if you do this game long enough, you’re going to have those experiences. Everybody goes through that. They all want to perform at their optimum, they all want to make sure that they bring a car that they know can win. And they did that at Sebring. It just didn’t work out. It was one of those racing bad days. As quickly as that can happen to you, it can turn around. I think they are very energized by that, I think they know that at a street race it is anybody’s ballgame and the 3 guys are not at all down and out about it at this point. You go home, you get past it and you come back harder than ever.”
Corvette Racing has 78 ALMS class victories, including four in 2012, making it the most successful team in American Le Mans Series history.
The Tequila Patron American Le Mans Series at Long Beach starts at 4:30 p.m. Pacific time on Saturday, April 20. GT Qualifying is at 5:25 p.m. Pacific time on Friday.
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