Corvette Racing Qualifies Third and Sixth for 24 Hours of Le Mans
Gavin Posts Quick Time for Corvette Racing in Second Qualifying Session
LE MANS, France – The battle lines have been drawn as qualifying concluded tonight for the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Corvette Racing qualified its Corvette C6.R race cars third and sixth in the fiercely competitive GT1 class as less than two seconds separated the top six qualifiers.
With less than five minutes remaining in the four-hour session, Oliver Gavin posted a 3:53.100 qualifying time in the No. 64 Compuware Corvette C6.R, placing it third among the dozen GT1 class cars that will contest the 24 Hours of Le Mans on June 17-18. Earlier in the evening Ron Fellows completed the 8.5-mile course in 3:53.993 in the No. 63 Compuware Corvette C6.R, sixth fastest in the GT1 class. Tomas Enge turned the quickest qualifying lap at 3:52.015 in an Aston Martin DBR9.
“As always, our focus is on the race,” said Corvette Racing program manager Doug Fehan. “We learned a tremendous amount about our fuel economy, we learned about our tire wear, and we learned about the consistency of our lap times throughout an entire stint. All of these could be key factors. We packed two days of testing into one, and we feel we’re as well prepared as possible for the race on Saturday.”
The most dramatic moment of this evening’s session came when Ron Fellows suffered a punctured tire on the fast Mulsanne Straight. Fellows kept the car under control and then nursed it back to the pits in an agonizing 14-minute lap without damage.
“I was starting a timed lap, and just before the first chicane the left rear tire let go like we ran over something,” Fellows explained. “It pitched me back and forth. When this happened two years ago, I didn’t catch it, but I caught it this time. I got the car under control and cruised at idle speed back to the pits, trying not to get hit from behind and keeping the tread from doing more damage. Max went right back out with a fresh set of tires, so the car’s in good shape. I don’t think I’m going to need any caffeine because that was enough excitement for one day.”
“I certainly had a better lap going at one point, but then it seemed like the track went away,” Fellows added. “We made some changes that should have improved the times, but I was slipping and sliding. My guess is that someone dropped something on the race track.”
Corvette Racing Quotes:
Oliver Gavin, No. 64 Compuware Corvette C6.R: “The track is quite different from what it was like at the test day. At the end of the test day there was quite a bit of rubber on the track and the car was pretty well balanced. Now the car feels quite loose, so we changed the rear wing and worked on the rear suspension and tire pressures. There are a lot of drivers out there apparently still getting acclimatized, as they’re weaving and going slow. Rather than pulling over to let you by when you’re on a fast lap they tend to turn in on you, so that’s an extra thing to keep our eyes open for. And then there is of course the low sun and all the other classic Le Mans stuff.”
Jan Magnussen, No. 64 Compuware Corvette C6.R: “The balance was a bit off in the first part of the session, but we managed to find a good setup for the race in the second half. We lost too much time yesterday with the rain, so today we worked solely on getting the car right for the race, rather than try anything with sticky tires.”
Olivier Beretta, No. 64 Compuware Corvette C6.R: “I think we all did a good job today in putting a good car together for the race. It’s a pity we lost all day yesterday, but that of course goes for everybody. The car is now quite good, although it was still a bit better at the test day in my opinion. We nevertheless have a car we feel comfortable with, and Oliver’s time, set in the dark, proves that we’re right there.”
Johnny O’Connell, No. 63 Compuware Corvette C6.R: “It’s a shame we had bad luck with traffic in the final run. We had lap times on the dashboard that were quicker, but every time I encountered traffic in the Porsche Curves. Losing yesterday’s session to weather hurt; it would have been nice to work on the cars. Now we have a day to look at the data and get ready for the race.”
Max Papis, No. 63 Compuware Corvette C6.R: “We worked hard on the stability of the car and the overall race package. I feel really confident; this is the best that the car has been since I drove the car at Le Mans last year. I feel that we’re ready for the battle. It’s going to be a very tough race and I’m expecting to drive at 100 percent every lap. We focused on keeping a good balance at night without forgetting that the car will have to be fast when it’s warm in the day. I think that we made a lot of progress and I really feel we’re ready.”
The 24 Hours of Le Mans will start at 5 p.m. local time (11 a.m. EDT) on Saturday, June 17, and will conclude at 5 p.m. local time (11 a.m. EDT) on Sunday, June 18. The SPEED Channel will televise 20 hours of live coverage in the U.S., from 10:30 a.m. – 3 p.m. EDT on Saturday and from 8 p.m. EDT on Saturday to 11:30 a.m. EDT on Sunday. MotorsTV will provide complete Le Mans race coverage in Europe, including practice and qualifying sessions. Audio coverage of the 24 Hours of Le Mans can be heard over the Internet at www.radiolemans.com.
24 Hours of Le Mans GT1 Top Qualifiers:
1. (007) Enge/Turner/Piccini, Aston Martin DBR9, 3:52.015
2. (009) Sarrazin/Lamy/Ortelli, Aston Martin DBR9, 3:52.561
3. (64) Gavin/Beretta/Magnussen, Corvette C6.R, 3:53.100
4. (69) Babini/Gollin/Pescatori, Aston Martin DBR9, 3:53.611
5. (67) Pergl/Kox/Vasiliev, Ferrari 550 Maranello, 3:53.781
6. (63) Fellows/O’Connell/Papis, Corvette C6.R, 3:53.993
Release Date: June 15, 2006