Insiders often divide the motorsports paddock into two groups: “runners” or people just happy to be part of the big show, and “racers”, those who are totally committed to winning.
There is no doubt where the leaders, drivers, engineers and crew for Corvette Racing stand.
With 71 ALMS wins, eight ALMS championships and six victories in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the Corvette Racing program almost became a victim of its own success.
By dominating the GT1 category for nearly a decade, Corvette Racing essentially chased away the competition, leaving them virtually no one to race.
Rather than leave the series, the decision was to step into the GT2 firefight, long the domain of Porsche and Ferrari, where Corvette would also take on new factory entries from BMW and Jaguar.
Fresh from a farewell GT1 victory at the 2009 running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the Corvette Racing team returned stateside to begin an all new quest, making an impressive GT2 class debut here at Mid-Ohio with a podium finish.
The move to GT2 is not without irony. The ALMS and Le Mans rules for production based GT2 cars limit much of the technology that GM and Corvette Racing had developed through the GT1 program, including some of the features found on the Corvette ZR1 production model.
Incredibly, the race car has less horsepower, steel brakes instead of ceramic, and a lower top speed than the street version of the Corvette ZR1 car.
At Mosport 2009, in just its third race, the new Corvette scored its first GT2 class victory with Jan Magnussen and Johnny O’Connell and the program was seemingly on its way.
Then the 2010 season began, and the Corvettes stopped showing up in the win column. An unlikely mix of pit lane miscues, untimely penalties, and wrong place/wrong time encounters have conspired to shut out Corvette through the first five races of the ALMS season.
Le Mans, the meaning of life at Corvette Racing, saw an impressive return to form as the Corvettes and the defending champion Risi Competizione Ferrari showed heels to the GT2 field.
But, a rare engine failure doomed one Corvette. The remaining Corvette led handily until being bulled into a heavy crash by a Peugeot prototype driven by an impatient Anthony Davidson.
Arriving at Mid-Ohio to begin the second time through in GT2 competition, Corvette Racing has but three podiums to show for its 2010 ALMS season.
“We certainly haven’t had the success that we want, but we knew that our move to GT2 would not be easy,” said Corvette Racing Program Manager Doug Fehan.
“We are racing against top manufacturers and teams who have been in this class for a very long time. The margins are very tight and you need to run a near perfect race to win. We have not done that yet, but we promise you that we will.”
You can count on that.
This story appears in the Mid-Ohio issue of The Alley, Michelin’s trackside publication, and can be picked up around the paddock at the track.