Corvette C6.Rs Qualify Third and Fifth for 24 Hours of Le Mans
Gavin Runs Fast Time for Corvette Racing in Second Qualifying Session
LE MANS, France – The stage has been set for an epic battle of production-based race cars at the 24 Hours of Le Mans as Corvette Racing qualified its new Corvette C6.Rs third and fifth in the intensely competitive GT1 class. The No. 64 Compuware Corvette C6.R driven by Oliver Gavin, Olivier Beretta and Jan Magnussen ran a fast lap of 3:52.426 in tonight’s four-hour qualifying session, placing it third among the nine GT1 class cars that will contest the 24 Hours of Le Mans on June 18-19. The No. 63 Compuware Corvette C6.R of Johnny O’Connell, Ron Fellows and Max Papis completed the 8.5-mile circuit in 3:55.914, placing it fifth in the GT1 class. With a pair of Aston Martins qualified in the top two spots, the race for the GT1 title promises to continue the rivalry between the English and American marques.
Oliver Gavin posted the quickest qualifying time for Corvette Racing in the second night of qualifying for this weekend’s 24-hour classic. “It’s always fun to do a fast lap around Le Mans – it’s a real challenge,” said Gavin. “We made great progress with the car tonight. The car feels very stable now and I feel comfortable and confident going into the race.”
“We did run our best lap on softer race tires, but we always have the race in mind,” Gavin explained. “That wasn’t a qualifying run; we were just trying to refine the race setup. The car is absolutely fantastic under braking – we’re as good as anybody out there, including some of the faster prototypes.”
Magnussen echoed his teammate’s optimism about scoring a second consecutive Le Mans class victory. “The car is a lot easier to drive now with the changes that we’ve made,” said the Dane. “I think we made some good improvements. This team is known for its discipline and the reliability of everything they build, and I think that’s how we’re going to beat the competition.”
Corvette Racing’s C6.Rs are the successors to the Corvette C5-Rs that scored three class victories at Le Mans in the last four years. Chevy’s factory racing team has been climbing a steep learning curve at Le Mans with its new race cars, which share technology developed for the production sixth-generation Corvette.
“The drivers are satisfied with their race cars, the fuel economy and tire wear look good, and I think we’re in a good position going into the 24 Hours of Le Mans,” observed Corvette Racing program manager Doug Fehan. “The C6.R is still in its infancy, and it is a completely different car than the C5-R as they relate to Le Mans. Before we even run this year’s race, I can tell you we’re anxious to come back next year because we’ve already learned a great deal.”
Johnny O’Connell experienced the evening’s only big moment at the end of the fast Mulsanne Straight when a suspension problem caused him to lose the front brakes, but both O’Connell and his Corvette came through without a scratch.
“Fortunately, nothing bad came out of it; I just needed to use a little extra road,” O’Connell reported. “It’s good that we found the problem now instead of on race day. I know that Corvette Racing is going to go through this car thoroughly tomorrow. The important thing is that we didn’t hurt the race car.”
The 24 Hours of Le Mans will begin at 10 a.m. EDT (4 p.m. local time) on June 18. SPEED Channel will televise 17.5 hours of live coverage; check local listings for times.
24 Hours of Le Mans GT1 Qualifying:
1. (58) Enge-Kox-Lamy, Aston Martin DBR9, 3:48.576
2. (59) Brabham-Sarrazin-Turner, Aston Martin DBR9, 3:49.739
3. (64) Gavin-Beretta-Magnussen/Chevrolet Corvette C6.R, 3:52.426
4. (61) Fomenko-Vasiliev-Bouchut, Ferrari 550, 3:55.309
5. (63) O’Connell-Fellows-Papis/Chevrolet Corvette C6.R, 3:55.914
6. (50) Goueslard-Dupard-Vosse, Ferrari 550, 3:55.983
7. (51) Pescatori-Gollin-Ramos, Ferrari 550, 3:57.676
8. (52) Bartyan-Malucelli-Seiler, Ferrari 550, 3:59.475
9. (69) de Fournoux-Daoudi, Ferrari 575, 4:07.654
Release Date: June 16, 2005