CORVETTE RACING AT ROAD ATLANTA: Strong Qualifying Efforts in GTLM, Prototype
Championship weekend for Corvette Racing, Chevrolet at Petit Le Mans
- Gavin third in GT Le Mans in No. 4 Chevrolet Corvette C7.R
- Westbrook takes overall pole in Prototype-championship leading VisitFlorida.com Racing Corvette DP
- Chevrolet aims to claim another Prototype Engine Manufacturer Championship
BRASELTON, Ga. – Corvette Racing and the Corvette Daytona Prototype program each posted solid efforts in challenging conditions Friday at Road Atlanta ahead of Petit Le Mans. The final race of the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship on Saturday will see a pair of Corvette DPs on the front row and a bright yellow Chevrolet Corvette C7.R on the inside of the second row in GT Le Mans (GTLM) following rain-soaked qualifying sessions.
The overall grid bodes well for Chevrolet as it will claim a second straight Prototype Engine Manufacturer Championship as long as one of the Corvette DPs takes the green flag.
Oliver Gavin qualified third in GTLM with a 1:31.685 (99.733 mph) in the No. 4 Chevrolet Corvette C7.R. A five-time winner at Petit Le Mans, Gavin will drive with Tommy Milner and Ryan Briscoe in the 10-hour endurance race that likely will be run in the rain.
Gavin, Milner and Briscoe – who will drive in both the team’s Corvette C7.Rs – stand second in the Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup. It is a competition made up of the TUDOR Championship’s four endurance races: Daytona, Sebring, the Sahlen’s Six Hours at The Glen and Petit Le Mans. Points are awarded at the four-, eight- and 10-hour marks at Road Atlanta; five points go to the leading car, four to second place, three for third place, and two points for fourth place on back.
The trio is second only to teammates Antonio Garcia and Jan Magnussen in the No. 3 Corvette C7.R. Garcia qualified seventh in class with a 1:33.773 (97.512 mph) but admitted his concern was more about bringing the car back safely than outright speed.
Garcia and Magnussen are still in the hunt for the GTLM Driver’s Championship and are 10 points out of first place with 36 available to Saturday’s winners. The duo and Briscoe won the opening two races of the season – the Rolex 24 At Daytona and the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring.
A victory Saturday would be the 10th at Petit Le Mans for Corvette Racing.
VisitFlorida.com’s Richard Westbrook claimed the overall pole position in the No. 90 Corvette DP that he shares with Michael Valiante and Mike Rockenfeller. Westbrook’s best lap was a 1:27.860 (104.075 mph) to beat out Action Express Racing’s Christian Fittipaldi by 1.060 seconds.
Westbrook and Valiante enter Petit Le Mans with the Prototype Driver’s Championship lead by six points. They need to finish third or better to win the title.
Fittipaldi’s best lap was a 1:28.920 (102.834 mph) lap in the No. 5 Mustang Sampling Corvette DP that he drives with Joao Barbosa and Sebastien Bourdais. The trio led a Corvette DP sweep at Sebring, and Barbosa and Fittipaldi are the defending TUDOR Prototype champions.
They are tied for second with Action Express Racing teammates Dane Cameron and Eric Curran in the No. 31 Whelen Engineering/Team Fox Corvette DP. Cameron was fifth in qualifying at 1:30.884 (100.612 mph). Max Papis completes the driving lineup.
Defending Petit Le Mans race-winner Wayne Taylor Racing qualified fourth in class on the strength of Ricky Taylor’s lap of 1:30.621 (100.904 mph). Taylor will drive with brother Jordan and Max Angelelli; the same trio won last year’s 10-hour enduro.
In the Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup Prototype standings, Barbosa and Fittipaldi lead the in Driver points by seven; the advantage is the same in the team standings for Action Express Racing’s No. 5 Corvette DP.
In the Prototype Manufacturer standings, Chevrolet holds a four-point lead.
The 18th annual Petit Le Mans is set for 11:15 a.m. ET for Road Atlanta in Braselton, Ga. It is the 10th and final race of the 2015 TUDOR United SportsCar Championship for Corvette Racing. It will air live on FOX Sports 2, FOX Sports Go and IMSA.com throughout the day beginning at 11 a.m. Flag-to-flag radio coverage also will be available via IMSA Radio.
CORVETTE RACING QUOTES
ANTONIO GARCIA, NO. 3 CHEVROLET CORVETTE C7.R – QUALIFIED THIRD IN GTLM: “We were following the track conditions. The car seems to be good most of the time. There was a lot of standing water, so instead of pressing today, I prefer to press tomorrow. I approached qualifying in a very careful way. I only did one lap, then a cool-down and was about to go for a second attempt and the red flag came. So I didn’t really do any driving or anything. There was a lot of standing water and rivers going across the track, so it was more about faith and trust in our Corvette and the grip. I saw one car go off after a half of a lap, and the accident for the 912 Porsche that caused the red flag, so that could have been me. For sure, another lap would have been faster. Tomorrow isn’t a sprint race. Tomorrow is going to be the same situation. At some point the order is going to reshuffle. We just need to keep focusing on what we do, and I don’t take too much into this qualifying.”
OLIVER GAVIN, NO. 4 CHEVROLET CORVETTE C7.R: “This qualifying session was all about just trying to get a good read on the car in the rain in direct comparison to our competition. But it also was to make sure we are at the sharp end because the race tomorrow is going to be one of a lot of cautions. It’s going to be a test of survival. It’s going to be an awful lot of luck, but also about being smart. Generally when you start further up the grid, chances are you are going to be able to stay out of trouble – at least we hope that’s the case. When you are at the front of the field, you can usually see more. But it is going to be a massive challenge tomorrow; there is no doubting that for everybody whether it is crew, tire guys, tire manufacturers, the track, the officials…it is going to test everybody. I am delighted to be third. It is great to be up there and to be fighting with the BMW and Ferrari. The Porsche was something else; they were a little bit out there in front but they have been every time in the rain this year. If they check out and get away, we’ll be the best of the rest.”
CORVETTE DP QUOTES
RICHARD WESTBROOK, VISITFLORIDA.COM RACING NO. 90 CORVETTE DP – POLE WINNER: “It was good. I think the best was the last lap because it was getting quicker and quicker every lap. We started as we meant to, which was leading the qualifying all the way through. We were talking on the radio… I didn’t know if the rain was going to get heavier, or if was going to stop. The VisitFlorida.com guys gave me a great, great car plus Team Chevy which a great, great partner of ours. It’s a big race tomorrow. I just want to get it finished off.”
TROY FLIS, TEAM OWNER, VISITFLORIDA.COM RACING: “It was a good day for us. We just kept doing what we have been doing all year. Richard drove a great lap there in the rain – he is great in the rain so we knew if we gave him a good car…we made a change right before qualifying. I haven’t heard if he liked it or not. He had a pretty good car because he wanted to qualify. It is good to have guys on this team that keep pushing for one another. We are just going to keep doing what we are doing and try to clinch this championship.”
CHRISTIAN FITTIPALDI, ACTION EXPRESS RACING NO. 5 MUSTANG SAMPLING CORVETTE DP – QUALIFIED SECOND: “This was pretty straight forward. I think we had more of a race car than a qualifying car underneath us. It pushed more than my liking. The No. 90 (Richard Westbrook) just beat us fair and square… hats off to them. Hats off to Westy, who managed to put down that great lap. I’m happy. It is a long race, and starting on the front row again is great. If you look at our average qualifying this year, it has been decent and maybe in some ways even better than last year. Thanks to Action Express Racing and Chevy. Tomorrow I think the first thing is we have to last the race. Then after you last for eight or nine hours, then you position yourself for the very end.”
RICKY TAYLOR, WAYNE TAYLOR RACING NO. 10 KONICA MINOLTA CORVETTE DP – QUALIFIED FOURTH: “It was good. It seemed like there were two groups of cars – the ones who might have committed to the rain (setup) and those who were looking at sort of an in-between car. We were part of the latter. I’m sure we’ll have a good car in the race. We’ll have to see what the forecast looks like. It looks like it’s going to be wet for at least some of it, but you never know. You wouldn’t want to be stuck in the dry with a full rain car (setup). That’ll be the big gamble tomorrow. It’ll be interesting to see which way people go. But our car was good in the rain, it was comfortable to drive, and I’m confident for tomorrow that we will have a good performance.”
DANE CAMERON, ACTION EXPRESS RACING NO. 31 WHELEN ENGINEERING/TEAM FOX CORVETTE DP – QUALIFIED FIFTH: “We were pretty conservative. There was not a whole lot to gain in qualifying. We have a 10-hour race in the wet coming, so we will wait for tomorrow. It’s going to be really spectacular I think. It’s a long day. We are just going to be focused on tomorrow and focused on survival. The last thing we wanted to do was to make a lot of work for the boys tomorrow. I think we have a decent car no matter what the weather holds. So we will see who survives for 10 hours.”
Petit Le Mans – GT Le Mans (all times ET)
- TUDOR Warmup: 9 a.m., Saturday, Oct. 3
- Race: 11:15 a.m., Saturday, Oct. 3
- 11 a.m.-noon: FOX Sports 2, Saturday, Oct. 3
- Noon-2:30 p.m.: IMSA.com, Saturday, Oct. 3
- 2:30-7 p.m.: FOX Sports 2, Saturday, Oct. 3
- 7-8:30 p.m.: IMSA.com, Saturday, Oct. 3
- 8:30-9:30 p.m.: FOX Sports 2, Saturday, Oct. 3
- Replay: 1:30-4:30 p.m.: FOX Sports 1, Sunday, Oct. 4
Release Date: October 2, 2015