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Corvette Racing Finishes Second and Third in ALMS Northeast Grand Prix
Magnussen and Garcia Runners-Up in GT at Lime Rock Park, Gavin and Milner Extend Championship Lead
LAKEVILLE, Conn., July 7, 2012 – Corvette Racing came out of the American Le Mans Northeast Grand Prix with its best result at Lime Rock Park since 2008 as the twin Compuware Corvette C6.Rs finished second and third in the hard-fought GT class.
When the race ended under caution, Jan Magnussen and Antonio Garcia were second in the No. 3 Corvette C6.R. Oliver Gavin and Tommy Milner were third in the No. 4 Corvette C6.R at the conclusion of the two-hour, 45-minute race, scoring their fourth consecutive podium finish in the series and extending their lead in the GT championship.
The Northeast Grand Prix had more fireworks than a Fourth of July celebration. The race began under a threat of thunderstorms, and finished under the day's fourth yellow flag when the No. 02 Ferrari went into the tire barrier in the final turn with nine minutes remaining on the race clock. Joerg Bergmeister was leading the GT class when the running order was frozen, claiming Porsche's first ALMS victory of the year. Before the final caution, Magnussen was stalking Bergmeister, with Gavin in close pursuit.
"At the end I was looking for that one opportunity to try a do-or-die pass, but it never came," said Magnussen, who made his milestone 100th career ALMS start today. "I needed a little traffic to get in Joerg's way to be able to pass him. The only issue we had was that when I got close, I'd lose some aero downforce on the front end so I didn't have the grip to do a normal pass. After our previous results at Lime Rock, second is a fantastic result for the team."
Gavin had a front-row seat for the final shootout that never came. "It was really a case of being smart, being careful, and waiting to see if Joerg and Jan got together," Gavin reported. "Jan was driving smart and thinking about the championship. There was a lot of banging and crashing today, but fortunately for us at Corvette Racing it was all minimal.
"After Tommy had some contact with an LMPC car, our car was just a little too pushy," Gavin explained. "As soon as I got in the car, I realized it was going to be tough to win today because it's so difficult to pass here. It's great to come away with third place on the podium and good points in the championship."
Milner started the No. 4 Corvette C6.R on the GT pole after the No. 44 Porsche was disqualified for a technical infraction and the pole-winning No. 55 BMW had to start from pit lane due to a mechanical problem before the reconnaissance lap. Milner and Garcia pitted at the 20-minute mark for fuel under the race's first caution, and then ran long green-flag stints before pitting for tires, fuel, and driver changes after more than 90 minutes of racing.
"I felt confident at the start of the race, and I was ready to go," Milner said. "Then I had a bad restart after the first caution period. On this track, you have to pick a lane and hope that it works out. When my lane didn't go, I lost three or four spots. That's frustrating, but you just keep your head down and keep going. I got stuck behind a BMW for at least 15 laps, and when an LMPC spun in the chicane ahead of me, I locked up and touched him just a little bit. I think I flat-spotted the left-front tire and was just holding on after that."
Garcia started fourth on the revised GT grid, and used some opportunistic passes and savvy strategy to move up to second before handing off to Magnussen.
"At the start, the LMPC cars were having a hard time getting their tires up to temperature, so I just kept pushing like I was fighting for their positions, and that let me keep up with the leaders," Garcia said. "I was aggressive on the restart, and that gave us the opportunity to pass both the Ferrari and Tommy. I was right beyond Pat Long's (class-leading) Porsche, because at this track you need to be close in order not to lose momentum in traffic. Maybe I used up the left-front tire running so close to him, especially on the fast corners. That caused me a hard time when I needed to extend to extend my stint until the pit window opened."
The No. 3 Corvette C6.R won the Michelin Green X Challenge with the best score for clean, fast, and efficient performance. Gavin and Milner unofficially increased their tally in the GT driver championship to 72 points, ahead of Garcia and Magnussen at 64 and BMW drivers Hand and Mueller at 60. Chevrolet is atop the GT manufacturer standings with a 10-point lead over BMW and a 19-point margin over Porsche.
"The drivers made smart decisions today, the engineers came up with great setups, and the crew did a perfect job on the pit stops," said Corvette Racing team manager Gary Pratt. "It's always good to go home with two cars in one piece after Lime Rock, and extending the manufacturers and the drivers points at the same time couldn't be better. Obviously a win would have been great, but we'll gladly take this result and get ready for Mosport."
Corvette Racing's next event is the Mobil 1 presents the Grand Prix of Mosport at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in Bowmanville, Ontario, Canada on Sunday, July 22.
American Le Mans Northeast Grand Prix GT Results (Top 10)
1. 45 Bergmeister/Long, Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, 160
2. 3 Magnussen/Garcia, Corvette C6.R, 160
3. 4 Gavin/Milner, Corvette C6.R, 160
4. 01 Sharp/van Overbeek, Ferrari 458 Italia, 160
5. 56 D. Mueller/Hand, BMW E92 M3, 159
6. 3. 55 J. Mueller/Auberlen, BMW E92 M3, 159
7. 17 Henzler/Sellers, Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, 158
8. 48 Miller/Maassen, Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, 157
9. 44 Neiman/Holzer, Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, 157
10. 23 Sweedler/Bell, Lotus Evora, 156