No. 1001
June 19, 2019

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Horizon #450

June 18, 2008 

arrowup.gifCorvette Racing, Pratt & Miller. You spend two-and-one-half weeks in Le Mans, France, you work day and night leading up to the 24 Hours of Le Mans with practice and qualifying, and then you survive the sheer grind of the world's most prestigious endurance race only to come up short - again. Such was Corvette Racing's battle in the 2008 24 Hours of Le Mans. For the second year in a row, Corvette Racing finished second in the GT1 class to Aston Martin in the French endurance classic at Circuit de la Sarthe. David Brabham, Antonio Garcia and Darren Turner (No. 009 Aston Martin DBR9) won the GT1 class completing 344 laps, with Johnny O'Connell, Jan Magnussen and Ron Fellows (No. 63 Compuware Corvette C6R) finishing second, while on the lead lap. The No. 64 Compuware Corvette C6R driven by Oliver Gavin, Olivier Beretta and Max Papis finished third, completing 341 laps. It was a tremendous battle between Corvette Racing and Aston Martin Racing, with both teams' lead cars going at it for the entire race, with the addition of rain thrown into the mix right before dawn and again for the finish for good measure. When Corvette Racing's crack Pratt & Miller crew had to replace the No. 63 Corvette's right front brake pads, the winning Aston Martin gained valuable track position, and that, unfortunately, was that for Corvette Racing. After scoring five wins in seven years, Corvette finished second to Aston Martin Racing for the second consecutive year. "Once again, we saw one of the epic battles in all of sports car racing," said Corvette Racing program manager Doug Fehan. "When you can take two cars, run them for 24 hours, and have them finish just minutes apart, it's an incredible achievement for both teams. We had a brake issue with the No. 63 Corvette and overcame a problem with the alternator in the No. 64 Corvette, and both cars finished on the podium. When we look at Corvette Racing's overall record and performance here at Le Mans, Chevrolet can be proud."

(Richard Prince/GM Racing Photo)

Publisher's Note: This week we're sharing an image gallery of Corvette Racing's exploits from the 24 Hours of Le Mans, courtesy of GM Racing and featuring the excellent work of Richard Prince, longtime Corvette Racing photographer. Click here to go to it. Thanks to GM/Corvette Racing for allowing us to display Richard's work. - PMD

arrowup.gifarrowup.gifarrowup.gifAston Martin. A great run for a tremendously talented, skilled and disciplined team. Winning the 24 Hours of Le Mans two years in a row in GT1 is an incredible achievement, especially when the results come against Corvette Racing, clearly one of the finest racing teams - of any kind - in the world.

(Regis Lefebure/ALMS)
Risi Competizione's Gianmaria Bruni, Jaime Melo and Mika Salo (No. 82 Ferrari F430 GT) celebrate their GT2 class victory for Ferrari at Le Mans. "This was an excellent job by everyone," said Melo. "The Michelin tires were very consistent. It wasn't easy especially through the night with the weather. A great job by my teammates. It was a fantastic Ferrari performance." Ferraris held the top four positions and won for the first time at Le Mans since a 2003 GTS victory. The Houston-based Risi Competizione team stormed to an eight lap victory in GT2. “It’s a lifetime achievement, especially to do it with Ferrari, and if you are a professional in the automotive world, there is no greater achievement. I can’t say enough about it,” said team owner and technical director Giuseppe Risi, who was a partner with the class-winning Doyle-Risi Racing Ferrari 333SP in 1998. “To me, winning Le Mans is worth winning a whole championship. One talks about Le Mans in very light terms but until you come here and have to grind through the night, hoping that the car holds together, racing against other people you respect and who are highly qualified to come here...and you see drivers who are top level but who have accidents and fall by the wayside.” “GT2 is fun - especially when you win,” Salo said. “It was a very good day for Jaime, me and Gimmi, for Risi and also for Ferrari. To have four Ferraris in the top six cars is impressive. They were all on different tires, but we proved which are the best. Luckily we could double or triple stint our Michelins which gave us a good advantage.”

arrowup.gifarrowup.gifarrowup.gifMichelin. The French tire company demonstrated its superiority yet again in the world's greatest endurance race by equipping all four class winners in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. A simply superb performance by a company committed to winning and building the best on and off the track.

arrowdown.gifRon Dennis. The Team McLaren principal distinguished himself yet again and not in a good way - a habit it seems - by dissing Le Mans in an interview with the International Herald Tribune. “You have to have phenomenal reliability, but also the drivers play such a key role, primarily in not falling off. It's rarely a race that's raced from beginning to end. You don't race for 24 hours; you compete for 24 hours, and it requires a different strategy. There's no race. They all suddenly realize that survival is the important thing. It is counter to the spirit of Formula 1; you very rarely slow down in Formula 1." The fact that Dennis would throw these views out there is no mystery. After all, with manufacturers around the world showing greater interest in the relevance of Le Mans these days, and less interest in the financial absurdity of Formula 1, he's trying to protect his bacon. But anyone who watched Le Mans this past weekend understands that it was a flat-out race from start to finish. Or, if your brain only functions in terms of F1, as Dennis's clearly does, that's 12 two-hour sprint races in one 24-hour period, Ron.

arrowup.gifRoad America, June Sprints. In an advanced preview of how great the 2009 SCCA Runoffs are going to be, over 500 competitors from across the nation will be racing at Road America during the Chicago Region SCCA June Sprints® this coming weekend, June 19-22, 2008. June Sprints is the first trophy stop to win amateur racing's most prestigious title, the Triple Crown of Racing. To earn this title, competitors must win in their class at the June Sprints, win their respective divisional title and win at the SCCA National Championship Runoffs. This year, one of racing’s most famous families will be represented over the weekend, with Mike Rahal serving as Grand Marshal. Mr. Rahal participated in some of Road America’s first events, and his passion for road racing has been carried on through his son Bobby and grandson Graham.

arrowup.gifThe IRL. The IndyCar Series resumes its schedule at Iowa Speedway this Sunday in the Iowa Corn Indy 250 presented by Pioneer. Scott Dixon holds a 35-point lead in the standings over Helio Castroneves. Dixon has three victories and has led 566 of the last 1,053 laps, including 58 or more laps in five consecutive races. The 2008 Indianapolis 500 champion won the pole at Iowa last year, but Andretti Green Racing drivers finished 1-2, with Dario Franchitti winning the race and Marco Andretti finishing second. Vitor Meira led 71 laps at Iowa last year before finishing ninth. He comes to Iowa on the heels of a second-place finish at Indianapolis, where he led 12 laps, and a seventh-place finish at Texas, where he led 38 laps. Meira has gone 83 starts without a victory in the IndyCar Series, the longest drought of any IndyCar Series driver. Will this be Meira's breakthrough weekend? Find out this Sunday at 1:00PM, live on ABC.
(Chris Jones/IRL)
Vitor Meria has gone 83 starts without a victory in the IndyCar Series, the longest drought of any IndyCar Series driver.
arrowdown.gifarrowdown.gifarrowdown.gifNASCAR. Publisher's Note: Mike Helton blasted all of the NASCAR drivers Friday at Michigan International Speedway for their incessant whining about the "Car of Tomorrow." The dreaded "CoT" has been disastrous in a number of ways, including the oppressive cockpit heat it generates and other on-track issues that the drivers loathe, but the most serious issue - and the one that Helton and NASCAR refuse to acknowledge - is that its unfortunate, cookie-cutter, generic, "spec" look has given the Detroit manufacturers serious pause for the first time ever, because it has reduced brand recognition down to headlight decals, grille openings and the model names plastered on the front of the cars. The alleged connection that Detroit once had - which admittedly was thin to begin with (in a galaxy far, far away) - between its NASCAR race cars and its production cars has been well and truly extinguished by the CoT. The reality of Helton's tantrum? NASCAR is worried. Attendance is down, and it's not just because of the high gas prices. NASCAR has peaked, and it is now in a noticeable and irrefutable downward slide in popularity. To make matters worse, corporate America has had their fill of blindly signing-up for NASCAR sponsorships, and the NASCAR marketing machine is starting to hear a chorus of "No" for the first time in recent memory. In typical fashion then NASCAR goes with what they've always done, which means muscling its drivers, telling them to buck up, fly straight and toe the corporate line. Or to be more specific, "shut up and drive." But Tony Stewart put things perfectly in perspective when asked about what Helton said to the drivers in a post-race interview on MRN. “Ask Mike Helton. I don’t know what we’re allowed to say and what we’re not,” Stewart said. “I’m just thankful we’re allowed to be here. It’s just a privilege for us to be here, and according to Friday, we’ve all got it a lot better than a lot of us think. We’re not allowed to have opinions now. We’ve all got it made here. We’ve all got it great. At least that is what we’ve all been told.” And that's our AE Quote of the Week. - PMD
(Ford Racing)
Ford Racing Technology Director Dan Davis hands over the keys to a new 2008 Shelby GT500 KR to 2007 NASCAR star Carl Edwards in front of Ford World Headquarters last week. Edwards received the car as a reward for winning the 2007 NASCAR Nationwide title. He was in town for business meetings in advance of the NASCAR race at Michigan International Speedway.
arrowup.gifCorvette. The Automobile Club de l'Ouest (ACO), organizer of the 24 Hours of Le Mans - the world's most prestigious sports car race - has recognized Corvette's rich racing heritage by naming the section of the Le Mans circuit between Virage Du Pont and Maison Blanche the Corvette Curves in honor of America's iconic performance car. 
arrowup.gifBrian Till. This guy is the most underrated play-by-play racing commentator working today. In watching the SPEED Touring race from Watkins Glen today, we're wondering why SPEED doesn't give him a much more prominent role in their racing coverage at some of their premier events.
arrowup.gifAllan McNish. Hot off his second victory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans – and first since 1998 – three-time American Le Mans Series champion Allan McNish will be a guest on XM’s Powershift program at 9:25 p.m. ET on Thursday, June 19. McNish won at Le Mans for the first time with Audi and with co-drivers Dindo Capello and Tom Kristensen as the diesel-powered Audi R10 TDI won the world’s greatest race for the third year in a row.