Volume II, Issue 3, Page 17

In For the Long Haul

Road to Le Mans Starts at Sebring for
Corvette Racing

By Rich Voegelin
Photos courtesy GM Racing
3/16/2007  

SEBRING, Fla. - The Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring may be only half as long in duration as the 24 Hours of Le Mans, but it's a more demanding test of teams and machines. With a notoriously punishing track surface and sultry conditions in central Florida, the season-opening round of the American Le Mans Series on March 17 will test the mettle of Corvette Racing's new C6.R race cars and the people who engineer, prepare and drive them.

"The cornerstone of the Corvette Racing program is the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and Sebring is the first step on the long road to France," said GM Road Racing Group manager Steve Wesoloski. "The ALMS series is the proving ground that has allowed us to hone our skills and develop our technology. There are 14 entries in the GT1 class at Le Mans, so we have to keep our eyes on the prize."

In the early years of Corvette Racing, Sebring was the team's "Bermuda Triangle" as the track exacted a heavy toll on the untested cars. The breakthrough came in 2002 when Johnny O'Connell, Ron Fellows and Oliver Gavin notched Corvette Racing's first Sebring class win. O'Connell and Fellows repeated the feat in 2003 with Franck Freon and in 2004 with Max Papis. The Corvettes suffered their only loss in 2005 to Aston Martin Racing in Sebring, but took revenge over the green machines with a win in 2006 by Gavin, Olivier Beretta and Jan Magnussen.