Racing Report on the 2010 Petit Le Mans Race
Matt Parker III [C5R# X2200], La Grange, GA

Continuous preparation in the paddock

Corvette Racing – GT2

The atmosphere for the 13th ALMS Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta was thick with competition for the GT2 Class:  BMW, Corvette, Ferrari, Ford, Jaguar, Panoz and Porsche.  17 GT2 cars were registered to battle around the twisty and hilly 2.54 mile Road Atlanta for 1,000 miles or 10 hours, whichever comes first. To add to the drama, no brand or team had a lock on winning – Petit Le Mans, Driver’s or Manufacturer’s Championship and the Michelin® Green X® Challenge. Accordingly, this last race in the nine race series would be the BIG one. With everything at stake, there was a lot more secrecy in the paddock – fewer photographers, limited access, and “drawn curtains” surrounded each team’s place of business; secrecy was in vogue.

Gavin and Collard ready for driver change drill

Wednesday, Thursday and Friday practices were rigorous and mostly in the dry.  The two ZR1 based C6.R Corvette’s meticulously prepared by Pratt & Miller worked their way around Road Atlanta getting the drivers ready for the most important race of their winless year. Yes, it was time to win and Corvette Racing was ready to win!

Qualification was held on Friday and Corvette Racing qualified 6th and 7th.

6. Gavin/Magnussen/Collard, #4 Chevrolet Corvette C6.R, 1:20:598

7. Beretta/O’Connell/Garcia, #3 Chevrolet Corvette C6.R, 1:20.675.

Jan Magnussen ready for Saturday morning practice1-7  

Ferrari occupied the first four positions and BMW fifth.  The top ten positions were separated by only 0.923 seconds, not much for a 1000 mile race.

Saturday morning practice was different; Corvette Racing was in “Real Racing Mode.”  You could feel the excitement in the air, the crews were smooth as glass and Jan Magnussen in the #4 Corvette posted the fastest time in the GT2 Class, giving Ferrari something to pontificate.

Curtains drawn in the paddock

At 11:30 am Race Start/Green Flag and the 13th ALMS Petit Le Mans was underway. It was one of the most beautiful fall days you could wish for a car race, bright and sunny, no clouds and in the 70’s – the antithesis of the torrential rains that Red Flagged the 2009 Petit Le Mans. For the most part the top runners BMW, Corvette, Ferrari and Porsche stayed together during the race. Ferrari, BMW and Porsche all had the lead until the 4th lead change at 1:24 pm when Jan Magnuessen #4 Corvette took the lead from Mika Salo #61 Ferrari. From that point on, the lead was only exchanged between Corvette and Ferrari.

Pit stops, which occurred about every 30 minutes, were responsible for many lead changes as well as the seven yellow caution periods which caused the cars to bunch up as well make pit stops. 

Approaching turn #6 in the lead

Slowly but surely the shadows began to grow and for many laps in the late afternoon Corvette and Ferrari were almost one, separated by about 100-200 feet. It became a war of conservatism of fuel and tires which turned out to be a misnomer considering the blistering pace of the cars. With only seconds, and frequently less than a second, separating 1st from 2nd place, an extra lap or two on tires and fuel could spell victory or defeat.

 Cresting the hill under Suzuki bridge


Lead changes #5-#21 Corvette & Ferrari only


As the sun settled below the horizon, the race became a real nail bitter:

8:00 pm (8 hr 30 m running) the #62 Ferrari was in 1st with only an 11.063 second lead over the #4 Corvette in 2nd, #01 Ferrari 3rd and #3 Corvette 4th.  

8:30 pm (9 hr 0 m running) #4 Corvette pitted for fuel only and dropped to 3rd.

8:31 pm (9 hr 1 m running) #3 Corvette pitted for fuel and tires.

8:35 pm (9 hr 5 m running) #62 Ferrari pitted for fuel only and retains 1st.

8:42 pm (9 hr 12 m running) #62 Ferrari ran out of gas and stops on course and #4 Corvette, Oliver Gavin, takes the win in class at lead change #21.

8:31 pm Olivier Beretta comes for fuel and tires

The Corvette pits exploded in joy and happiness and the Ferrari pits, awash in red, were dead silent in disbelief. 

In Gavin’s exciting words:  “After our last fuel stop (lap 347), I hoped I’d have enough to get to the end. Then the fuel alarm came on with a lap and a half to go. My engineer (Chuck Houghton) was telling me to save fuel, save fuel. As I came on to the back straight on the last lap, I could see a Ferrari weaving, and as I went by, I thought it was the leader! I came across the line and Chuck said, Yeah, we won!”

 8:30 pm Oliver Gavin comes in for a splash of fuel

Wining the 2010 Petit Le Mans was the most significant win in many years.  Corvette Racing had become accustomed to winning, but this year had been the most difficult because it had been winless. The pits, the podium, and the paddock were all overflowing with extreme excitement and happiness. You could see it and feel it and that was the best part. Victory was sweet! Corvette Racing was standing tall again!

Final Top 10 GT2 Results  (Position/Drivers/Car/Laps Completed)

1. Gavin/Magnussen/Collard - Chevrolet Corvette C6.R - 355
2. Sharp/van Overbeek/Farnbacher - Ferrari 430 GT - 355
Vilander/Bruni - Ferrari 430 GT - 354
4. Auberlen/Milner/Werner - BMW M3 GT - 354
5. Bergmeister/Long/Lieb - Porsche 911 GT3 RSR - 354
6. Beretta/O'Connell/Garcia - Chevrolet Corvette C6.R - 354
7. Fisichella/Melo/Salo - Ferrari 430 GT - 353
Murry/Bell/Lazzaro - Ford GT - 349
9. Law/Neiman/Holzer - Porsche 911 GT3 RSR - 348
10. Sellers/Ragginger - Porsche 911 GT3 RSR - 347


Victory ceremony Gavin, Magnussen & Collard C6.R#4

Jan & Ollie with trophy and #4


13th Petit Le Mans Race Photos:


Pit work during practice


C6.R #3 Ready to Race


Ready to start the 13th Petit Le Mans


 Olivier Beretta between turns 10A&B


 Antonio Garcia pulling G’s at turn 6


 Johnny O’Connell leading during a caution period


Robin Pratt celebrates with smiles & tears & cheers


 Dave Barefield:  Before Winning


 Dave Barefield:  After Winning 


Corvette Racing Driving Team

C6.R #3 – Johnny O’Connell, 2001, Georgia. Résumé:  Three-time ALMS GT1 Champion, 38 career ALMS wins, record eight Sebring 12-hour class victories, holds ALMS records for most starts (102), most podium finishes (80), most top-five finishes (93) and most top-ten finishes (100), first American driver to win 24 Hours of Le Mans four times. ALMS record for career starts. 

C6.R #3 – Olivier Beretta, 2004, Monaco. Résumé:  Five-time ALMS GTS/GT1 Champion, five class wins in 24 Hours of Le Mans, holds ALMS records for most career wins (41) and most career poles (23), two FIA championships, overall victory in 2000 Rolex 24 at Daytona. ALMS records for victories and poles. 

C6.R #3 – Antonio Garcia, 2009, Spain. Résumé:  Won four major endurance races including 2008 & 2009 24 Hours of Le Mans (GT1), 2009 Daytona 24-hour (overall), 2009 Sebring 12-hour (GT1).

C6.R #4 – Oliver Gavin, 2002, England. Résumé:  Three-time ALMS GT1 Champion, 31 career ALMS class victories, four class wins in 24 Hours of Le Mans.

C6.R #4 – Jan Magnussen, 2004, Denmark. Résumé:  2008 ALMS GT1 co-Champion, four class wins in 24 Hours of Le Mans, 22 career ALMS wins, former Formula 1 driver, twice voted "Most Popular Driver" in ALMS.

C6.R #4 – Emmanuel Collard, 2010, France. Resume:  Overall winner  of Sebring 12-hour, Daytona 24-hour, Spa 24-hour and Petit Le Mans races; multiple class victories in Le Mans 24 Hours and Nürburgring 24 Hours; two-time Le Mans Series Champion.

Johnny O’Connell’s Auction Supporting Alzheimer’s Research

Johnny’s Auction has been a major Friday event at Petit Le Mans since 2001 as a tribute to his dad who suffered from Alzheimer’s. We all know families that deal with Alzheimer’s, a dreadful disease. Johnny was the Grand Master of Ceremonies which was most entertaining in itself. He made his Auction singing debut accompanied by two Corvette Racing crew members, Mike West and Dan Fastuca. Johnny’s daughter Kelly was the featured singer and her voice was beautiful as always. Many racing and race-related memorabilia were auctioned, including driving suits and gloves, Michelin tires, C6.R body components, drivers helmets, paintings, photographs and clothing, all for a great cause. All thanks to Johnny O’Connell and his troop of volunteers.

Johnny O’Connell’s Auction at Petit Le Mans, Road Atlanta

Johnny singing with Mike West and Dan Fastuca on guitar

Johnny’s daughter Kelly singing like a pro

Johnny’s friends and fans have a great time raising money for a great cause

Corvette Corral

The Corvette Corral was sponsored by the National Corvette Museum and was full of new Corvette’s – ZR1’s, Z06’s, and Grand Sports all in the newest colors.  The surrounding field was full of Corvette’s from all over the country. If you were interested in a particular model, color, or modification, they were all there for your inspection.  As usual, the Corvette Corral was the most populated at Petit Le Mans. 

The Corvette Corral featured many ZR1’s

America’s Greatest Sports Cars!



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