Corvette Racing enjoyed a record-breaking run in its final Sebring outing in the GT1 class of the American Le Mans Series, with the #3 car taking class spoils ahead of the sister #4 machine.
Johnny O'Connell, Jan Magnussen and Antonio Garcia secured the win in the two-car class and completed some 349 laps en-route to victory, the highest total recorded by a GT car in the event. The sister car came in close behind, while the #3 car also lifted the inaugural Michelin Green X Challenge amongst the GT machines based on performance, efficiency and environmental impact.
"In our final race in the GT1 class at Sebring, I think we raised the bar high by setting an all-time laps completed record and running a flawless race," Corvette Racing programme manager Doug Fehan said. "Today was an example of what we've done since the inception of this programme – continuous improvement. This gives us a solid foundation for going to the 24 Hours of Le Mans and completing our mission over there."
Gavin started on the GT1 pole with Magnussen in close pursuit. The first round of pit stops at 49 minutes into the race proved decisive as Magnussen pitted first, handing off to O'Connell. One lap later, Gavin pitted and was replaced by Beretta. The two cars emerged from their stops side-by-side, with O'Connell taking the lead for good in turn ten.
From that point onwards, the #3 car wasn't headed with O'Connell extending his Sebring record to eight wins, Magnussen taking his 100th career victory and Garcia enjoying his maiden success with the Corvette squad.
"I had the advantage of a killer lap going out of the pits," O'Connell said. "Maybe our car was a little better in that stint. I came by as Olivier was coming out of the pits on cold tires, so he had knife for a gunfight on that first lap. Anytime you get close dicing like that it's a lot of fun, and Olivier was pushing me every bit of the way.
"I don't know why this place has always been special for me, but a lot of it is that I've been here with good people. When you have a race car prepared by Corvette Racing and the support of Chevrolet, this is how you want to start a year. To have won this so many times with Ron Fellows, and now to do it with Jan and Antonio, makes me very excited about the future. Not only did we win the race, we also won the Michelin Green X Challenge, so there is a lot for Chevrolet to be proud of today."
The gap between the two Corvettes was never more than 30 seconds through the long day of racing. Gavin and Magnussen started and finished the race, running five stints, while their team-mates each completed four stints.
"It came down to a couple of little things that just didn't quite work out for us," Gavin said. "We had some bad luck with the cautions and safety car, and we were a little off on tire pressure or the setup on a few stints. There was really almost no difference in performance between the two Corvette C6.Rs, so it was going to take just one small thing to throw it one way or the other. Unfortunately it didn't work out our way today, but there's a lot of positives for us to take away from this. We had a car that was strong and that we all could drive well."