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Corvette Racing Sets Fast Times at Sebring During ALMS Winter Test


Corvette Racing ALMS

Corvette Racing won the final race of the 2010 season - the petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta.

Photo courtesy of Corvette Racing

Corvette Racing's twin Compuware Corvette C6.Rs ran the fastest laps for their class in all four sessions of last week's two-day American Le Mans Series Winter Test at Sebring International Raceway. After Jan Magnussen turned the quickest times in the first three sessions in the No. 4 Corvette C6.R, Olivier Beretta posted the fastest lap of the test in the GT class with the No. 3 Corvette C6.R in the final session.

Magnussen piloted his Corvett to a smoking-fast 2:02.260 in the Wednesday morning session, and then improved to 2:02.235 in the afternoon session and 2:02.197 on Thursday morning. Beretta turned a 2:02.186 in the No. 3 Corvette C6.R in the final minutes of Thursday's rain-shortened afternoon session. That lap set the performance standard among the 16 entries in the GT class for the only official test before the season-opening Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring on March 19.

The thing to note in this is that all of those laps were within one tenth of a second of each other! Consistency is a hallmark of great racing drivers, and Magnussen and Beretta were consistently turning hot laps throughout this track session - that their laps were so close to each other also shows that each driver is getting the most out of his Corvette, and that the Corvettes are likely to lead the field this year.

"The team did a really good job," Beretta said. "We had many things to test, and we stayed with our plan. Sometimes when you are testing, you know it is not the right direction, but you have to keep going. At one point I was like a fish out of water, but my engineers were 100 percent sure of what they were doing. They told me to be patient, and when they put everything together, the car was very quick."

"I think we've had a good test, and we got through many of the items we wanted to do," Magnussen said. "We've had no major issues and we were improving all the time, so I'm very happy. The GT category is so tough that if you can find even a slight advantage somewhere, it's going to show on the final results. Of course, a driver always want more testing - if you have two days you want three, if you have 10 days you want 11!"

Corvette Racing participated in the preseason test with two new race cars and two new drivers, Tommy Milner and Richard Westbrook. Milner gained experience in the No. 3 Compuware Corvette C6.R with co-drivers Antonio Garcia and Beretta, while Westbrook turned laps in the No. 4 Compuware Corvette C6.R that he will share with Oliver Gavin and Magnussen in endurance events.

Announced as a full-season driver in the No. 3 Corvette C6.R in January, Milner settled in quickly with the Corvette Racing team. "I feel very comfortable in the car now, and getting more laps is good for me," Milner said. "The crew made some damper adjustments during my long run in the morning session today, and I could feel the differences those changes made. That reaffirmed that I can give good feedback to the engineers, which is important to make the car better and more consistent."

Westbrook's time in the No. 4 Corvette was limited by red flags and weather, but the Briton adapted quickly to his new ride and ran impressive times in the final session. "We made good progress, and the changes we made were positive," Westbrook reported. "I'm getting more comfortable in the car, and it was nice to be in P1 for a while. The Corvette C6.R is an excellent piece, and a pleasure to drive. Every time I get the call to get in the car, it puts a smile on my face."

"You never really know what the competition is doing, but it's good to be near the top," said team manager Gary Pratt. "A successful test like this gives everyone confidence, especially the drivers, and that's a good feeling going into race week. The new systems in the cars worked well and proved to be reliable. That's why we test, to make things better."

Corvette Racing received more good news last week with official invitations to the 24 Hours of Le Mans from the Automobile Club de l'Ouest (ACO) for both of its Corvette C6.Rs. The twin Corvettes will compete as Nos. 73 and 74 in the GTE-Pro class in the 24-hour endurance classic. Eighteen invitations were issued for the highly competitive GTE-Pro category.

"One Corvette C6.R was automatically qualified with our dramatic victory at Petit Le Mans, but the second Corvette needed an official invitation from the ACO," explained Corvette Racing program manager Doug Fehan. "We know what it means to the fans to have the Corvettes race at Le Mans, and we're looking forward to competing in the world's greatest sports car race for the 11th consecutive year."

Corvette Racing's next event is the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring in Sebring, Fla., on Saturday, March 19. The season-opening 12-hour race will be shown live on ESPN3.com and americanlemans.com starting at 10 a.m. ET. ABC will televise race highlights from 12:30 to 2 p.m. ET on Sunday, March 20.

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