Fellows Edges Gavin as Corvette Racing Qualifies 1-2 at Infineon Raceway
Canadian Ties ALMS Record with 15th Career GT1 Pole
SONOMA, Calif. – Ron Fellows exacted a measure of revenge today for a self-confessed qualifying miscue in June’s NASCAR Nextel Cup race at Infineon Raceway. The Canadian driver qualified his No. 3 Compuware Corvette C6.R on the GT1 pole for tomorrow’s Infineon Technologies Grand Prix of Sonoma, lapping the 2.53-mile circuit in 1:28.528 lap (102.883 mph).
“This was sweet,” said Fellows. “When we were here a month ago with the Tide Chevy, I made a mess of Turn 1 and didn’t do a good job in qualifying, so I was extra motivated today. I haven’t had a pole for awhile, so we’ll relish this one.”
Fellows edged his Corvette Racing teammate Oliver Gavin by less than a 10th of a second to take the top spot, and tied Olivier Beretta’s record with his 15th career ALMS pole. The Corvette duo qualified eighth and ninth overall in the 24-car field of prototypes and GT cars.
“We wanted to get in a good lap early, and Dan Binks, my crew chief, did a perfect job of timing my out lap so that I had no traffic,” Fellows explained. “As competitive as it is within Corvette Racing, it drives everyone to be better.”
Fellows hopes to capitalize on his previous experience at Infineon Raceway. He and teammate Johnny O’Connell have won the GT1 class for the past four years at the track, and both have raced at the Northern California facility for decades.
“We learned in the Nextel Cup race that you have to be smart with the tires here,” he explained. “Tomorrow will be one of those rare times when tire management is going to be a factor because of the heat, the low-grip surface and the near-constant cornering on this track.”
Fellows’ 15th pole in the ALMS series tied the mark for the most career poles set at the preceding race by Olivier Beretta in the No. 4 Compuware Corvette C6.R.
“Ron was due, and it’s a great accomplishment to tie Olivier’s record,” noted Corvette Racing program manager Doug Fehan. “When you look at the Corvettes’ qualifying times, it’s hard to imagine two cars running any closer than that.”
“We’ve changed the car setup very little since we arrived at Infineon Raceway, and that gives us confidence that we’re gaining knowledge about the C6.R,” Fehan reported. “Clearly the adjustments made by the sanctioning body have drawn the GT1 field closer together, which is going to make for some spectacular racing in the GT1 class.”
Oliver Gavin encountered heavy traffic and didn’t get a clean qualifying lap in the No. 4 Compuware Corvette. He’ll start the yellow Corvette on the inside of the fifth row after qualifying at 1:28.607 (102.791 mph). The Briton still holds the track qualifying record at 1:28.042, a mark he set in 2004
“I think I had a car that would have been capable of taking the pole if I had a clean lap,” Gavin said. “We ran a number of laps very close to the pole-winning time, but never quite quick enough.”
“It seemed that someone was leaving the pits every time I came up the front straight and into the first corner,” he explained. “When that happens, it’s impossible to get a good run, which is very frustrating. We put a lot of laps on our tires in qualifying, but we know we’ll have a strong car for the race.”
The 2-hour, 45-minute Infineon Technologies Grand Prix of Sonoma will begin at 2 p.m. EDT on Sunday, July 17. The race will be televised from 3 to 5 p.m. EDT on CBS. American Le Mans Series Radio will have live flag-to-flag coverage at www.americanlemans.com.
Infineon Technologies Grand Prix of Sonoma GT1 Qualifying:
1. O’Connell/Fellows, Chevrolet Corvette C6.R, 1:28.528/102.883 mph
2. Gavin/Beretta, Chevrolet Corvette C6.R, 1:28.607/102.791
3. Borcheller/Mowlem, Saleen S7R, 1:28.854/102.505
4. Bertolini/DeSimone, Maserati MC12, 1:29.781/101.447
5. Figge/Dalziel, Chevrolet Corvette C5-R, 1:30.591/100.540
6. Weickardt/Rugolo, Dodge Viper, 1:31.994/99.006
Release Date: July 16, 2005