Corvette Takes Provisional Pole Position After First Day of Qualifying at Le Mans
Corvette C5-Rs set fastest times in Wednesday night session
LE MANS, France – The General Motors Chevrolet Corvette Racing team claimed the provisional GTS pole position after the first day of qualifying before the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Oliver Gavin, driving the #64 Corvette C5-R along with Olivier Beretta and Jan Magnussen, clocked a lap of 3:52.158 in the second session on Wednesday evening. The #63 Corvette C5-R is currently at second in class after Max Papis, co-driving with Ron Fellows and Johnny O’Connell, set a time of 3:54.612. All 47 competitors on the grid will take part in another qualifying session on Thursday evening.
“All you have to do is look at the number of laps run and the lap times to get a feeling for how hard this team has worked to prepare for Le Mans,” said Doug Fehan, GM’s program manager for Corvette Racing. “We are hoping for good weather tomorrow and if given the chance, we will make another attempt to improve our times for both cars. I think we’re looking at quite an interesting race this weekend.
The factory-backed Corvette C5-R race cars are seeking their first ever pole position at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. While the team has collected two class victories, in 2001 and 2002, never before have they started at the front of their class.
Gavin was quick to point out that the crew had put in a tremendous effort in off-season development to prepare the cars for this race.
“Every year I’ve come to Le Mans with the Corvette team, the level of preparation has been better and better,” said Gavin. “This year is no different and it’s a great environment to work within. There are a lot of real racers on this team and you can tell that every single person here is absolutely committed to winning.”
While track conditions improved in the second qualifying session of the evening, many drivers noted that the Sarthe circuit never approached the conditions of the April test session, when Corvette became the first GTS car to break the 3 minutes, 50 seconds mark.
“The track is very slippery,” said Gavin. “It is clear that all drivers are struggling with it, but we are happy that despite that variable, we’re still four seconds ahead of the next competitor. On my lap I did encounter a bit of traffic and I also had a brand new set of brakes.”
Teammate Max Papis, driver of the #63 Corvette, was happy with the #63 Corvette team’s performance in the dark.
“I am very pleased we can run a long stint during the evening with great consistency,” said Papis. “Track conditions were different from when we were here in April and I am still getting used to the circuit. I only had four laps in total today before I did my qualifying run, but I believe if I get more comfortable we could look to bring our times down tomorrow. Right now both of our cars are 1-2, which is the most important thing.”
|Provisional Grid – Gran Tourisme (GTS) Class|
|3||20||66||Ferrari 550 M||3:56.493|
|4||21||69||Ferrari 550 M||3:56.920|
|5||23||65||Ferrari 550 M||3:58.493|