Gavin Kicks Off Corvette Racing’s 10th Anniversary with GT1 Pole in Sebring Season-Opener
Gavin Edges Magnussen for Top Starting Spot in Classic 12-Hour Endurance Race
SEBRING, Fla. – Three-time American Le Mans Series GT1 champion Oliver Gavin posted the fastest time in the GT1 category in qualifying for Saturday’s Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring. Gavin piloted the black No. 4 Compuware Corvette C6.R to a 1:57.882 (112.994 mph) lap around the 3.7-mile, 17-turn road course. The Englishman edged Jan Magnussen’s best time in the yellow No. 3 Compuware Corvette C6.R by.321 seconds, denying the Dane his third straight GT1 pole in Sebring.
Gavin has previously started at the head of the GT1 class three times in Sebring, most recently in 2005 when the grid was set by practice times after rain cancelled qualifying. This year he put together a quick time on the second of his three timed laps to claim the 18th pole of his ALMS career, tying him for second on the series list of pole winners.
“It’s great to come away with a pole as we begin the 10th anniversary for Corvette Racing,” Gavin said. “Anytime you manage to beat Jan in qualifying, you’ve earned your money.”
“Sebring is a tough event, very hard on the cars and the drivers, and great preparation for Le Mans,” Gavin continued. “Everyone is very mindful of the fact that Le Mans is the goal, but all of us would like to have the first 10th anniversary victory here in Sebring.”
Magnussen was quicker as the two Corvettes completed their first flying laps, but slowed slightly on his second lap. He cut Gavin’s margin on his final lap with a 1:58.203 time, but not enough to unseat the polesitter.
“We’ve been trying a lot of different things throughout the week, and it looks like we took a step in the wrong direction for qualifying,” Magnussen said. “The car is good and we know what we have to do to get back on track with just a small adjustment. I think these were the warmest conditions we’ve had so far this week, and that definitely played into what we were doing.”
Gavin agreed that track conditions were difficult today: “The track seems a little light on grip, and if someone runs off the racing line and gets some sand on the track, then it’s a real effort to get the tires cleaned off for the next few corners,” he said. “In fact, on my third timed lap I ran through some sand, ran a bit wide, and made a mess of the lap time. Fortunately my second lap was quick enough to get the pole. Ben Brady and Jason Trompeter, the new engineers for the No. 4 Corvette C6.R, worked their magic and came up with a car that was very, very good.”
The Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring is scheduled to start at 10:30 a.m. ET on Saturday, March 21. The race will be televised live on SPEED from 10 a.m. to noon and from 2 to 11 p.m. ET.
Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring GT1 Qualifying:
1. Gavin/Beretta/Fassler, Chevrolet Corvette C6.R, 1:57.882/112.994 mph
2. O’Connell/Magnussen/Garcia, Chevrolet Corvette C6.R, 1:58.203/112.687 mph
Release Date: March 19, 2009