Corvette Racing Qualifies 1-2 in American Le Mans at Mid-Ohio
Gavin Wins GT1 Pole for Second Time at Corvette Racing’s Home Track
LEXINGTON, Ohio – Corvette Racing’s bright yellow Compuware Corvettes qualified at the head of the GT1 class today at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course for Sunday’s American Le Mans at Mid-Ohio. Driving the No. 4 Corvette C6.R, Oliver Gavin edged his teammate Johnny O’Connell in the No. 3 Corvette by .1-second to win the GT1 pole for the second straight year at Mid-Ohio. Both Corvettes eclipsed the track qualifying record set last year by Gavin.
Gavin won the pole for the first time this season with a 1:18.033 lap (104.171 mph), bettering the previous mark by more than half a second. It was Gavin’s first pole in the new Corvette C6.R, although he was awarded the top GT1 starting position in Sebring, Fla., after qualifying was cancelled due to heavy rain.
“This is a good track for us, and the car is handling very well here,” said Gavin. “Johnny pushed me very hard through the qualifying session. There’s a friendly rivalry in the Corvette Racing team; Johnny got the pole at the previous race at Road Atlanta, and I got it here. But the important thing is that a Corvette driver is on the top step of the podium tomorrow, because Corvette races to win.”
“If you discipline yourself and drive hard at this track, you get something back,” Gavin observed. “The C6.R is a fantastic car, and the team has been working very hard since Sebring. It’s always going to be close between the two cars because they’re identically prepared by Corvette Racing. All of the drivers have the skills they need to be fast here, so it comes down to who has the luck and who gets the right breaks with the traffic. We’re quietly confident about the race.”
O’Connell toured the 2.25-mile circuit in 1:18.131, also bettering the previous qualifying record.
“I’m pleased because last year Oliver smoked me in qualifying, and this year it was only a tenth of a second,” O’Connell laughed. “I actually had a lap that might have been quick enough for the pole, but I got caught in traffic – at least that’s what my engineer told me. I say, ‘Well done!’ to the guys on the No. 4 Corvette.”
“Those were very hard, aggressive laps and we weren’t going to get any more out of the car,” O’Connell confided. “We have an exceptional car. This race is about the breaks you get in traffic and your ability to avoid trouble. We’re just going to make sure we come out here with as many points as possible because that’s how you win championships.”
Gavin and O’Connell enjoyed the vocal support of hundreds of Corvette owners in the Corvette Corral and dozens of GM employees who came to Mid-Ohio.
“Mid-Ohio is our home track, and the entire Compuware Corvette team is excited that we were able to qualify 1-2 in our backyard,” said Corvette Racing program manager Doug Fehan. “The gap to the Maserati has narrowed considerably, so obviously they are getting acclimated to racing in the U.S., and that’s great for the series.”
“There are a lot of the families of the mechanics here, so I hope we will give them a good race,” added Gavin’s teammate, Olivier Beretta. “We are looking for a little more grip for the race, and we hope that the yellow Corvettes will finish 1-2.”
After a cold, rainy day of practice on Friday, the weather was warm and sunny for Saturday’s 20-minute qualifying session.
“These are ideal conditions here at Mid-Ohio,” said Ron Fellows. “There are concrete sections in the corners that build up rubber, and when the sun heats it, the surface can get slippery. If the conditions are like this tomorrow, we’ll be racing at a pace between mid-19s and mid-20s. Our C6.R is working quite well on the long runs, with a very comfortable balance.”
The American Le Mans at Mid-Ohio will take the green flag at noon EDT on Sunday, May 22. The 2-hour, 45-minute race will be broadcast on CBS from 1-3 p.m. EDT, and American Le Mans Series Radio will have live flag-to-flag coverage at www.americanlemans.com.
American Le Mans at Mid-Ohio GT1 Qualifying:
1. Gavin, Beretta/Chevrolet Corvette C6.R, 1:18.033/104.171 mph (qualifying lap record)
2. O’Connell, Fellows/Chevrolet Corvette C6.R, 1:18.131/104.041
3. Bertolini, DeSimone/Maserati MC12, 1:18.379/103.711
4. Borcheller, Mowlem/Saleen S7R, 1:19.055/102.825
5. Figge, Dalziel/Chevrolet Corvette C5-R, 1:20.377/101.133
6. Weickardt, Rugolo, Belloc/Dodge Viper, 1:20.566/100.896
Release Date: May 21, 2005