Corvette Takes GTS Pole Position in Portland

Olivier Beretta and Ron Fellows set new track records

PORTLAND - The General Motors Chevrolet Corvette Racing team captured the pole position for the GTS class during qualifying on Saturday at Portland International Raceway. Corvette driver Olivier Beretta set the fastest lap on the 1.9 mile circuit in the #4 Compuware Corvette C5-R with a time of 1:09.981; Ron Fellows qualified the #3 Compuware Corvette C5-R second in class with a time of 1:10.251. Both Chevrolets bested the previous track record, set back in 1999.

"If you thought it was hot in Sonoma, it's even hotter here in Portland," said Doug Fehan, program manager for Corvette Racing. "As usual the team stood up to the challenge and brought back another Corvette 1-2 in qualifying. To do that, at over 100 degrees, requires a remarkable level of preparation and dedication. Corvette happens to be the kind of team that can deliver in these conditions."

This weekend the ALMS returns to the "old" style of qualifying. Cars can run as many laps as possible during the 20 minutes with the fastest counting as a qualifying time. Last weekend at Sonoma, the series introduced a new form of "single-car" qualifying, which was in a one-race trial.

 "The car is very quick and we've made some changes every day to make it quicker," said Olivier Beretta, pole sitter in the #4 Corvette C5-R. "I've always enjoyed coming to Portland and Oliver and I are looking forward to this race. The most important thing here today is that a yellow Corvette captured the pole position. It is going to be quite hot but I have done races that were hotter, like Texas in 2000."

Beretta's comments recall the Corvette C5-R's first victory, which came at that same hot race in Texas during the 2000 season. The evening race did not start until 9:00 p.m., but temperatures remained in triple figures. In the end, drivers Ron Fellows and Andy Pilgrim crossed the finish line first, ahead of future Corvette driver Olivier Beretta. It was the first win for the factory Chevrolet team. Temperatures are not expected to remain above 100 degrees for this weekend's race, but it won't be cool, either.

Ron Fellows and Johnny O'Connell believe that their Corvette still has some time left in it.

"Qualifying wasn't bad but I think we have a few more changes to make," said Fellows. "Olivier did a great job on his lap. We'll all go compare notes and see what the best setup will be for tomorrow's race. The team has done a great job all weekend in these very hot conditions."

Sunday's race begins at 1:00 p.m. PDT.

Provisional Grid - GTS Class
Pos. No. Car Drivers Best Time
1 #4 Corvette C5-R Gavin, Beretta 1:09.981
2 #3 Corvette C5-R Fellows, O'Connell 1:10.251
4 #63 Saleen S7R Borcheller, Mowlem 1:10.912
6 #5 Lamborghini Murcielago R-GT Brabham, Kox 1:12.228
7 #6 Lamborghini Murcielago R-GT Krohn, Jonsson 1:16.505
N/A #71 Dodge Viper GTS-R Weickardt, Belloc Withdrawn