Corvette Racing C6.Rs Top GT1 Qualifying in American Le Mans New England Grand Prix
Beretta Sets ALMS Record with 15th Career Pole at Lime Rock Park
LAKEVILLE, Conn. – Olivier Beretta became the most prolific polewinner in American Le Mans Series history today as he put the No. 4 Compuware Corvette C6.R on the GT1 pole for Monday’s American Le Mans New England Prix at Lime Rock Park. Beretta earned the top spot for the 15th time in his ALMS career, breaking a tie with his Corvette Racing teammate Ron Fellows. Fellows qualified the No. 3 Compuware Corvette C6.R in the second spot in the GT1 class.
Beretta set the GT1 qualifying lap record on the 1.54-mile road course at 50.170 seconds (110.504 mph), edging his teammate by .336 seconds and winning his second consecutive GT1 pole at Lime Rock Park. Beretta’s time was the sixth quickest overall, and Fellows’ lap was the seventh fastest overall in the 23-car field of prototypes and GT machines.
“I’m very happy because little by little we are learning how the C6.R works,” said Beretta. “The Corvette Racing engineers made the car very good at the start, and Olly (Gavin) did a very good job, especially in the last practice session, on making improvements. It was easy for me to have one flying lap and get the quick lap time.”
Two weeks ago, Beretta and Gavin were victorious in the 24 Hours of Le Mans on a fast 8.5-mile circuit. On Monday, the ALMS New England Grand Prix will be contested on the slowest and smallest road course in the series.
“The C6.R is very quick on a fast track like Le Mans where we finished 1-2, and it is also very quick on a slow track like today,” Beretta reported. “So the car is very strong everywhere. We have a good package – good tires, a good crew, and the drivers try to do their best – so we are very confident and very happy. The team did a huge job since our race at Mid-Ohio, sending the car to Europe and back, and then rebuilding it for this race. The car is fantastic to drive, so thanks to them.”
Both Corvette C6.Rs eclipsed the track qualifying record set last year by Beretta at 51.425 seconds.
“We came here with a good setup from last year, and the car was good right off the truck,” said Joe Kiefer, race engineer for the No. 4 Compuware Corvette C6.R. “We learned a lot last year about this track, and made a few changes on the dampers to help the car over the bumps. The track was good today and quite a bit quicker than last year.”
Ron Fellows didn’t get the fast lap he had hoped for in the No. 3 Corvette C6.R.
“This is a place we could have won a pole, but Olivier obviously did a great lap,” said the Canadian. “I just didn’t get it together with the traffic, and charging a little harder I got a some understeer in a couple of turns.”
With no track activity on Sunday, the team will have a day of rest before the 2-hour, 45-minute sprint race begins at 3 p.m. on Monday, July 4. The race will be televised live on SPEED Channel, and American Le Mans Series Radio will have live flag-to-flag coverage at www.americanlemans.com.
“You only need to look down through the field to see how close the competition is getting, and that makes for great racing,” noted Corvette Racing program manager Doug Fehan. “To predict anything at Lime Rock is foolhardy. With the quick lap times here and the required pit stops, you can go two laps down in a heartbeat and never know what happened. It’s always an adventure here.”
American Le Mans New England Grand Prix GT1 Qualifying:
1. Gavin/Beretta, Chevrolet Corvette C6.R, 50.170/110.504 mph (qualifying lap record)
2. O’Connell/Fellows, Chevrolet Corvette C6.R, 50.506/109.769
3. Borcheller/Mowlem, Saleen S7R, 51.148/108.391
4. Bertolini/Babini, Maserati MC12, 51.170/108.345
5. Figge/Dalziel, Chevrolet Corvette C5-R, 51.621/107.398
6. Weickardt/Rugolo, Dodge Viper, 52.629/105.341
Release Date: July 2, 2005