American Le Mans SeriesEndurance RacingSportscars

Corvette frustrated again at Lime Rock Park

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Even a change in conditions at Lime Rock Park – hot, humid conditions replacing the rain of the rest of the weekend – couldn't help Corvette Racing, as incident and accident again kept the yellow and black cars off the podium.

The no.3 car lasted little more than 60 minutes of the two-hour, 45-minute event, suspension failure eventually forcing the car, shared by Jan Magnussen and Johnny O'Connell into retirement.

Even in its rediced track time the car was involved in a potentially crucial indient, coming into contact with the no.62 Risi Competizione Ferrari, with Brazilian Jaime Melo at the wheel.

“Melo had a legitimate run on me going down the hill, I got caught up by guys running 10 seconds off the pace, and he came up the inside,” O’Connell explained. “In my view, he moved to the left, made contact, and that’s what caused him to go off. I know that he’s very disappointed, but it is what it is.”

The Ferrari was forced off track and hi the tyre barriers, causing damage significant enough for Melo and the team to retire the car on the spot. The Corvette remained on track, running third and fourth with the sister Oliver Gavin/Olivier Beretta car when the safety car pulled in – Melo's stricken car one of many off track.

But just over half an hour later the car came off second best of another bout of contact – this time with the no.88 GT Challenge entry, the Corvette grinding to halt at turn one on the 1.5 mile track.

Once the car was recovered back to the pits – the third and final safety car incident followed the incident – the team opted not to repair the car, with little chance of making it to the 70% cut off mark required to score points in the ALMS.

Their stablemates on the other hand had stayed away from trouble in the close quarters racing promoted when multi-series racing meets Lime Rock's short layout.

However, once more penalties levied against the team were enough to rule it out of contention for the win. This week it was a stop-and-go penalty for blocking, handed down as Beretta tried to hold off the pair of Rahal Letterman BMWs for fourth place after the safety car brought out after Melo's off.

The penalty preceded a two-hour stint by Oliver Gavin, trying to fight his way back from what he described as the “extraordinary penalty”. Happily it was a largely uneventful stint (at least by Corvette's recent standards) with only a pair of minor incidents delaying the no.4 car.

“We had a bit of an incident with a Porsche trying to go around the outside in Turn 5 and lost the rear of the car, and that cost me maybe 10 seconds,” Gavin explained. “When it started to sprinkle and the track got slippery, I thought it could be a time for us to capitalize so I tried to go around the outside of the Patron Ferrari in Turn 1. I don’t think he saw me, and he pushed me wide into the marbles.”

Gavin brought the car across the finish line in fifth, two laps off the class winning pace set by Patrick Long and Jorg Bergmeister in the Flying Lizard Porsche who led home the two BMWs Beretta had been fending off earlier in the race.

“At the end of the day, we had cars that were competitive at Lime Rock,” said Corvette Racing program manager Doug Fehan. “We hadn’t turned a lap in the dry until warm-up this morning. If you are looking for a silver lining at Lime Rock, it was quite an accomplishment for the Corvettes to be able to run with teams and cars that have years of experience here.”

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James is our Diet-Coke fuelled writer and has been with TCF pretty much since day 1, he can be found frequenting twitter at @_JBroomhead
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