The green flag dropped at 2:30 in the afternoon on Saturday and the 3-car wasted no time running past Gavin in the 4-car, who was hung out in slower traffic, as they passed the starter's flag station. However Oliver was quickly able to re-gain his 3rd place class standing and the 2 sister Corvettes set-off after the leading Italian entries. Jan Magnussen was on the mark and, aided by excellent pit work, was able to push past the 4-car after the first round of pit stops. However the 3-car would pick-up a stop and go penalty for a pit violation on their second service appointment. Johnny slightly nudged the air hose from the Corvette 4-car as he exited his pit space. He had the wheel cranked all the way over in leaving, however it was just unavoidable. This dropped the 3-car back to 7th pace in the GT field - any falter in such competitive surroundings will be severely rewarded. Jan would take over driving duties to finish the race and he worked his driver magic to eventually gain the lead in GT over the Porsche of Patrick Long and the BMW M3 of Muller and Hand - however glory was not to be for the 3-car. Jan experienced a punctured right front tire (pushing a car around Laguna can have it's repercussions on such a tight road course) and had to come in for replacement. The whole issue became exacerbated when the crew had to work on the car while the pits were "closed." For a time, under yellow flag conditions, the officials close the pits - it is forbidden to work on any car during this interlude. Only when the IMSA officials "re-open" the pits may a car be worked on. The Corvette team chose to intentionally service the 3-car while the pits were "closed" as the penalty time served for that infraction was far less than the time the team would have to wait for the pits to re-open for legal service. The infraction required the 3-car to serve a 60-second penalty which dropped them quickly away from any podium contention.
Meanwhile the 4-car under Oliver Gavin's capable hands was working its way through the field and eventually found 3rd place. It appeared that Gavin may have had the advantage in the chase as he was consistently laying down fast lap times with inspired driving. However 2 yellow caution flags at the end of the race kept him from realizing his potential and he had to settle for 3rd in line for GT behind the winning Porsche of Patrick Long and the 2nd place BMW of Mueller/Hand. The GT class is building a great show for the fans to watch. The Ferrari's are very quick, the Porsche's are fast, they have the legs and consistent pit support for the entire race. The BMW's are quickly finding their pace and endurance, seemingly able to get to the front no matter what spot they start in. The Ford GT continues to gain presence and the newly entered Jaguar, although undergoing teething problems, is working away at their mount with persistent journeyman effort. This American GT class is absolutely the race to watch within the race.
One bright spot for the Chevy Racing team was award of the Michelin Green X Challenge Award to the 3-car.for the GT car going the farthest, the fastest with as little environmental impact as possible. "our focus at Corvette Racing is multifaceted - to design and build top-quality race cars that are fast and that demonstrate leading-edge green technology," said Corvette Racing program manager Doug Fehan. "Capturing another Michelin Green X Challenge title for Chevrolet and GM is a huge accomplishment."
Chevy Racing now sets their sights for Le Mans and the quick turn around dictated by the unreasonably short time schedule. Fortunately both Corvettes, though banged about some during the race, survived the Laguna challenge unscathed. At least the Corvette Racing crew will have a straight forward time preparing their steeds for the Le Mans experience. Now on to France...