Gavin Pips Magnussen for GT1 Pole in Lime Rock Qualifying
Tire Pressure Adjustment Makes the Difference on New Track Surface
LAKEVILLE, Conn. – Oliver Gavin won the GT1 pole for Saturday’s American Le Mans Northeast Grand Prix in the No. 4 Compuware Corvette C6.R, edging his Corvette Racing teammate Jan Magnussen by .247 seconds on the reconfigured and repaved Lime Rock Park circuit. Magnussen had the quicker qualifying time in the No. 3 Compuware Corvette C6.R after the first five timed laps, but a tire pressure adjustment gave Gavin the edge he needed to capture the pole.
A fast lap at 52.792 seconds (102.288 mph) secured Gavin’s first pole of the season and the 15th of his ALMS career. Magnussen responded with a 53.090-second lap (101.812 mph) that fell less than a quarter of a second short. The No. 009 Aston Martin DBR9 of Borcheller and Ducote suffered crash damage in the first practice session and did not run in the qualifying session.
“We’ve had some rough luck this year, so let’s hope this is the turning point,” said Gavin. “Since this track has such short laps, we ran a total of 10 laps in qualifying instead of the four or five we usually take. After the fourth or fifth hot lap, my car was really sliding around and it was very nervous. My crew chief, Steve Cole, asked on the radio, ‘Does it feel like the tire pressure is too high?'”
“He made a smart call, brought me in, and the crew lowered the tire pressure,” Gavin reported. “I had two more laps to set a time, and managed to get a clear lap. The Corvette C6.R was fantastic!”
Qualifying began as dark clouds gathered over the Connecticut circuit, and rain began to fall at the drop of the green flag.
On the first lap out of the pits, I went into West Bend and thought to myself, this session isn’t going to last too long,” Gavin recalled. “I was waiting for the rain to arrive, but it never rained hard. The track surface stayed good and the Michelin tires stayed under us.”
Magnussen also stopped for a tire pressure adjustment during his qualifying run.
“When I went back out again after the adjustment, it was difficult to know just how hard I needed to push,” said the Dane. “A GT2 car went by me just as I was trying to make a gap to the other Corvette, so I couldn’t do my second flying lap. Olly did a great lap; I think we might have matched him if everything was right, but that’s how it is.”
Magnussen was also concerned about the prospect of a wet qualifying session: “There were some big drops, and I thought, I wish somebody else was doing this!” he said. “But I couldn’t feel any moisture on the track.”
At 1.51 miles in length, the reconfigured layout is slightly shorter than last year’s course, but it has two more turns. The two practice sessions today were interrupted frequently by red flags after accidents and off-course excursions as drivers struggled with the new configuration.
“With all of the stops for red flags, we weren’t able to run long enough to test the changes we wanted to make for the race setup,” Magnussen conceded. “It could take some luck to get it right in the race.”
“I think it’s going to be a caution-filled race, and that’s a symptom of the new layout of the circuit,” Gavin predicted. “The edges of the track are still so fresh that people are dragging dirt onto the track and going off. It’s going to be a very challenging race.”
The American Le Mans Northeast Grand Prix, the fifth round of the American Le Mans Series, is scheduled to start at 2:05 p.m. EDT on Saturday, July 12. SPEED will televise the race tape-delayed on Sunday, July 13, from noon to 3 p.m. EDT.
American Le Mans Northeast Grand Prix GT1 Qualifying:
1. Gavin/Beretta, Chevrolet Corvette C6.R, 52.792/102.288 mph
2. O’Connell/Magnussen, Chevrolet Corvette C6.R, 53.039/101.812 mph
3. Borcheller/Ducote, Aston Martin DBR9, no time
Release Date: July 11, 2008