24 Hours of Le Mans
Corvette Further Improves Qualifying Times at the 24 Hours of Le Mans
Gavin and O'Connell set fast times on Thursday night
LE MANS, France - The General Motors Chevrolet Corvette Racing team
improved their qualifying times in Thursday's second qualifying session before the
24 Hours of Le Mans. Oliver Gavin, driving the #64 Corvette C5-R along with
Olivier Beretta and Jan Magnussen, set a best lap of 3:49.750, second fastest in
the GTS class. The #63 Corvette C5-R will start close behind after Johnny
O'Connell, co-driving with Ron Fellows and Max Papis, set a time of 3:51.378. The
lap times represent a significant leap in development for Corvette over the past
year; the Chevrolets improved by nearly six seconds over their best 2003
"This qualifying session is a testament to the great racing at Le Mans,"
said Doug Fehan, program manager for Corvette Racing. "We dedicated the
majority of our session to preparing the cars for a good race setup, which I
believe we've found for both cars. We did utilize qualifying tires and put forth a
couple of really good laps. The competition is fierce and that's why you see over
300,000 people attending this race. This is yet another chapter in a great
The factory-backed Corvette C5-R race cars will attempt to capture their third
GTS title at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in five years. The American sports car icon
continues to have a wide wide-ranging and enthusiastic fan base at Le Mans,
extending as far and wide as hand-painted Corvette murals on local buildings in
the small French town.
"Pole position would have been great to achieve, but we are totally
focused on being at the front after 24 hours of racing," said Oliver Gavin,
driver of the #64 Corvette C5-R. "I was happy to see that Jan ran very
comfortably at a consistent pace during our night session. All three of the
drivers on the #64 team are very happy with the setup of the car and I expect this
will suit us well over the 24 hours."
While many fans and competitors expected afternoon rain to spoil Thursday's
chance to improve the qualifying order, the track dried and many teams on the
47-car grid improved their position. Gavin set his fast lap during the tail end of
the first session as cooling track temperatures allowed him to break the 3
minutes, 50 seconds mark. Johnny O'Connell went for a qualifying run during the
first part of the 10:00 pm session and found conditions to his liking, although he
reported heavy traffic.
"We did what we had to do to get a proper setup and I am very happy that
we have comfortable race car for Saturday," said O'Connell. "We will
make a few more changes to some settings, but I believe we are ready. The teams
that win here are able to look after their cars the best, and we're planning on
doing that for the entire 24 hours."
From an engineering standpoint, the team prepares for Le Mans like no other
event. The Wednesday and Thursday sessions have been used as a combination of
all-out qualifying sessions as well as environments to develop the proper setup.
"Technically, the biggest challenge at Le Mans is making sure we adapt the
car to the changing conditions," said Doug Louth, engineering manager for the
Corvette Racing program. "The air and track temperatures are constantly
cooling off or warming up and the car operates in a wide range of different duty
cycles for power, brakes, transmission, cooling. A team must make decisions on
tires and mid-race adjustments so that everything is dialed in for optimum
performance. We're comfortable with our performance level, so operating an race
error-free is going to be our biggest challenge."
|Provisional Grid - Gran Tourisme (GTS) Class
||Ferrari 550 M
||Ferrari 550 M
||Ferrari 550 M
||Ferrari 575 GTC