Johnny O'Connell and Jan Magnussen have clinched the American Le Mans Series GT1 title after taking victory – alongside Ron Fellows – in the Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta.
The #3 Corvette secured its eighth victory of the season in comfortable fashion after the sister car of Olivier Beretta, Oliver Gavin and Max Papis ran into problems with a malfunctioning gear linkage.
A lengthy pit stop put the #4 car six laps down and ensured the class crown for O'Connell and Magnussen; who took their 36th and 22nd ALMS wins in the process.
"It's huge to win the championship here," O'Connell said. "My goal this season was to win the championship. I was excited to go into this year with Jan and improve on what we'd built in 2007. To share this win with Ron is very special. We've shared cars for eight years, and to win Petit Le Mans together is great."
Gavin had been forced to nurse the #4 Corvette C6.R back to the pits at an idle after the throttle linkage malfunctioned coming out of turn seven. The crew made repairs and got the car back on track nine minutes later but the chance of victory had already passed.
"The fact that the Corvette C6.R engine has so much torque enabled me to get back to the pits," he said. "Otherwise the hills here at Road Atlanta would have left me stuck out on the track. It was dicey because I had to drive the entire length of the straight with the engine on idle. I was staring in the mirror to make sure I wouldn't get in anyone's way – I was going about 25 mph, and they were passing me at 180!"
As well as lifting the GT1 crown, the #3 car also took honours in the inaugural Green Challenge, securing the team award in the GT class for Corvette Racing and the manufacturer award for General Motors.
Powered by cellulosic E85R ethanol made from waste wood, the winning Corvette had a score of 20.391, the best overall score in the competition based on based on performance, fuel efficiency and environmental impact.
"Going into the second half of the season, Corvette Racing's goal was to win the first Green Challenge," Steve Wesoloski, GM Racing road racing group manager, said. "Winning the Green Challenge with the best score among both GT cars and Prototypes was a team effort that combined the expertise of GM Powertrain, our engine supplier Katech, and Pratt & Miller Engineering.
"It's not just about making the engine more efficient and more environmentally friendly. We looked at things like reducing wheel bearing friction and aerodynamic drag to win the Green Challenge. Alternative renewable fuels are an important part of GM's gas-friendly to gas-free program, and GM already has more E85-compatible vehicles on the road than any other manufacturer. Green Racing ties in with what the corporation is doing in production vehicles. We're developing the technology to improve both efficiency and performance, and we're proving it on the race track."