Corvette Racing Qualifies 1-2 at Road America
Gavin Gone with the Wind in Wisconsin, Claims 11th Career ALMS Pole
ELKHART LAKE, Wis. – On a windy day in America’s dairyland, Oliver Gavin put America’s performance icon on the GT1 pole for Sunday’s Generac 500 at Road America. Gavin extended Corvette Racing’s season-long pole qualifying streak in ALMS competition and recorded the fastest qualifying lap for the third time in four races at this fast 4-mile circuit.
Gavin turned the quickest qualifying lap in the No. 4 Compuware Corvette C6.R at 2:00.382 (121.055 mph), eclipsing the 2:00.868 qualifying record set by his teammate Olivier Beretta one year ago in a Corvette C5-R. He was fast enough to set the only qualifying record among the four classes on the track today, and quick enough to take the top spot in GT1 by two tenths of a second over the No. 3 Compuware Corvette C6.R driven by Ron Fellows.
“The key to winning the pole was getting a clean lap,” said Gavin, who recorded his fastest time on his third circuit. “Road America is a momentum track, so you need two or three clear laps to get things going nicely. To get the most out of the car here, you must use every last inch of asphalt, including the curbs. So far things are going perfectly to plan.”
Gavin hadn’t planned, however, on the gusty winds that swept across the track today throughout the 20-minute qualifying session.
“I was braking later coming into Turn 5 because of the wind, and had to be very careful going into Turn 1 because the wind was behind me going up the pit straight,” he explained. “It’s very satisfying to do a good lap time on this great track, but we still haven’t got the car quite perfect. We didn’t test here, so we’re still figuring out the C6.R on this circuit. To be honest, we’re surprised with how quickly we ran today.”
The Corvettes’ qualifying performance was especially surprising in view of the performance adjustments that were in effect. The International Motor Sports Association (IMSA) issued a technical bulletin that allowed Corvette Racing’s rivals in the GT1 class to run larger intake air restrictors at the Road America and Mosport rounds of the ALMS. According to IMSA executive director Doug Robinson, the larger restrictors should provide up to 50 additional horsepower for the Saleen S7R, Corvette C5-R, Viper and Maserati MC12. The bulletin also imposed an additional 25 kilograms (55 pounds) on the C6.Rs through next year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans in accordance with a rules revision by the Automobile Club de l’Ouest (ACO), which sanctions ALMS events.
“It’s a testament to Corvette Racing that we can give up 50 horsepower and 55 pounds and still qualify at the head of the class,” said Corvette Racing program manager Doug Fehan. “Given the strength of our engineers, crew and drivers, nothing this team does surprises me. With the recent competition adjustments, the top four cars are bunched very tightly, and that’s a good thing for racing.”
The strongest competition for the No. 4 Corvette C6.R is certain to come from the No. 3 Corvette C6.R, which Fellows qualified at 2:00.582 (120.854 mph).
“Today was a great effort by the entire Corvette Racing team,” said Fellows. “There were a couple of corners where I had some understeer, and with the wind swirling around, it was quite difficult through the Carousel. I could feel the wind gusts coming across the track, and on my fastest lap I felt the car move around when the wind hit it. It’s the same for everybody, of course, but it’s interesting to see what the crosswinds do to the car in these long, fast corners. The bottom line is that we have two very good race cars, but I’m disappointed not to be first.”
Before sweeping the top spots on the GT1 grid, both of Corvette Racing’s C6.Rs advanced to the final round of the Klein Tools Pit Stop Challenge. The pit stop contest pitted seven teams against the clock as they crews had to perform a driver change, a simulated 30-second fuel stop, and a four-tire change. The crew of the No. 3 Corvette led by crew chief Dan Binks won today’s semi-final round with a time of 51.927 seconds, earning the $10,000 first-place prize. The No. 4 Corvette team of crew chief Ray Gongla advanced to the final with a 55.439-second stop. Three of the teams incurred penalties, but both Corvette Racing crews were flawless.
The final round of the Klein Tools Pit Stop Challenge will be held at the ALMS season finale at Laguna Seca Raceway in October when the four finalists will vie for a $20,000 prize.
“We practice pit stops regularly, and today all the hard work paid off,” said Binks. “This event puts the spotlight on the pit crews, and they deserve it. The guys on both cars did an awesome job, and it’s really exciting to have two Corvettes in the final round. Our crews compete with each other to do quicker stops, and that makes the whole team better.”
The crew of the No. 3 Corvette C6.R turned the tables on drivers Ron Fellows and Johnny O’Connell, dousing them in champagne during the Pit Stop Challenge victory celebration.
“We got a little champagne spray in our eyes,” Binks laughed, “but we could see well enough to get the cars ready to qualify.”
The Generac 500 at Road America, the seventh round of the 2005 American Le Mans Series, is set for 3 p.m. EDT (2 p.m. local time) on Sunday, August 21. The 2-hour, 45-minute race will be broadcast live on SPEED Channel from 3 to 6 p.m. EDT.
Generac 500 at Road America GT1 Qualifying:
1. Gavin/Beretta, Chevrolet Corvette C6.R, 2:00.382/121.055 mph (track record)
2. O’Connell/Fellows, Chevrolet Corvette C6.R, 2:00.582/120.854
3. Borcheller/Mowlem, Saleen S7R, 2:01.152/120.285
4. Bertolini/de Simone, Maserati MC12, 2:01.741/119.703
5. Figge/Dalziel, Chevrolet Corvette C5-R, 2:02.535/118.928
6. Weickardt/Rugolo, Dodge Viper, 2:07.353/114.428
Release Date: August 20, 2005