American Le Mans Heats Up as the Series Heads to Laguna Seca

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by John Coyle
Even with a damaged car?most of the race was run without a hood?Corvette Racing drivers Tommy Milner and Oliver Gavin were able to pull out a victory at the demolition derby that was the Streets of Long Beach. And while the team is fresh off a win and seems to have found a groove, this weekend’s race at Laguna Seca still looms over the hopes for a GT Class championship. 
Coming into the six-hour endurance race at the legendary California circuit, Chevrolet and BMW each have 40 points in the battle for the manufacturer’s championship?and recent history doesn’t bode well for Corvette Racing at the home of the famed corkscrew. Because while the lessons learned at Laguna Seca were crucial for to the team’s victory at the 2011 24 Hours of Le Mans, the drivers of the Velocity Yellow C6.R haven’t stood on the podium there since the 2008 season. With 22 championship points on the line, pressure will be on Milner and Gavin to deliver more than just a shakedown for the contest in France. 
Another factor which could complicate Corvette Racing’s chances is the return of one of its arch rivals?the Viper GTS-R. While a factory-backed team hasn’t been on the grid since the 2000 season, the Snake casts a large shadow. Vipers took one-two finishes in the 24 Hours of Le Mans from 1998 to 2000, finished first in class at the 12 Hours of Sebring in 2000, and won back-to-back titles during the 1999 and 2000 American Le Mans seasons. So while the current race car might be untested under racing conditions, this highlight reel illustrates how foolish it’d be to underestimate the SRT’s impact when it rejoins the fray this summer. 
In other Corvette news?and everyone, race fan or not, should like this one?ALMS is giving away a 2013 427 Convertible Collector’s Edition Corvette. You can enter now by heading over to the official site and answering some questions about the sexy drop top. As if the car weren’t enough, the winner of the contest will also receive a trip to the 2013 24 Hours of Le Mans, which is about as close to gearhead nirvana as you can get. What have you got to lose? Enter now! 
The American Le Mans Monterey will start at 1:30 p.m. PT on Saturday, May 12, and will be broadcast on ESPN2 at 5 p.m. ET on Sunday, May 13. Live coverage is available starting at 4:15 p.m. ET on ESPN3.