Gavin Takes GT1 Pole for ALMS Utah Grand Prix
Post-Qualifying Tire Change May Promote Magnussen to Head of GT1 Class
SALT LAKE CITY – The good news for Oliver Gavin: He set the quick qualifying time in the GT1 class for the 13th time in his ALMS career at the Utah Grand Prix. The bad news: A spin on his second timed lap could relegate him and teammate Olivier Beretta to the back of the pack if the team makes a post-qualifying tire change.
The highs and lows of motorsports were apparent today in qualifying for the fifth round of the American Le Mans Series at Miller Motorsports Park near Salt Lake City. Gavin posted a fast time of 2:35.697 (103.725 mph) in the No. 4 Compuware Corvette C6.R on his first timed lap around the 4.5-mile course. Then as he charged into the first turn to begin his second lap, the car went off into the gravel, spoiling his hopes for a quicker time.
“We had a strategy for qualifying to get out first thing and get a time,” said Gavin. “On my first timed lap I had a bit of traffic but still got a decent time. Then coming down into Turn 1 to start my second lap, I braked a little later, lost the rear of the car, and spun off into the gravel.”
“It’s a shame because I think we may have damaged the tires enough that we’re going to have to change them and start from the back,” he revealed. “It will be a shame, but that’s the way it is. Maybe it was unwise to push that hard, but that’s what qualifying is all about – to see how fast you can go over one or two laps.
“Olivier was watching, and he said I very nearly caught it – but then I ran out of talent,” Gavin added with a smile.
Under ALMS rules, cars must start on the tires used in qualifying. If the tires are subsequently changed, the car must start at the rear of the field. That would promote the No. 3 Compuware Corvette C6.R of Jan Magnussen and Johnny O’Connell to the top grid position in the GT1 class.
“Everyone on the team did a great job today, and Steve Cole, our engineer, has done a brilliant job with the chassis,” Gavin noted. “Now we’ll have to do our work from the back of the grid to get past all of the GT2 cars and get back up to the No. 3 Corvette. It’s a long race tomorrow, we have some good tires from Michelin, so it’s possible.”
Magnussen turned a best time of 2:38.689 (101.769 mph) after an eventful qualifying session. Magnussen joined the qualifying fray two and a half minutes after the green flag fell as the crew made final adjustments, and then he was caught out by a four-minute red-flag period. Magnussen finally got a quick lap just as the 20-minute qualifying session concluded.
“I was always caught in traffic and never really got any laps,” said the Dane, who had his own off-course excursion in Turn 12. “We got out a little late and then I was always in traffic. At least we’ll start ahead of the GT2 cars.”
The Utah Grand Prix is the final warm-up for Corvette Racing before the 24 Hours of Le Mans. With an intramural contest in GT1 at this race, the team has its eyes firmly fixed on the Le Mans prize.
“We’ve run our Le Mans aero package here and we’re testing tires as well,” Gavin reported. “We’re just trying to get everything sorted out. This is a very useful race for us before we leave for Le Mans.”
The Larry H. Miller Dealerships Utah Grand Prix, the fifth round of the 12-race 2007 American Le Mans Series, is scheduled to start at 5 p.m. local time (7 p.m. EDT) on Saturday, May 19. The two-hour, 45-minute race will be televised tape-delayed by CBS Sports on Sunday, May 20, at 1 p.m. EDT.
Utah Grand Prix GT1 Qualifying:
1. Gavin/Beretta, Chevrolet Corvette C6.R, 2:35.697/103.725 mph
2. O’Connell/Magnussen, Chevrolet Corvette C6.R, 2:38.689/101.769 mph
Release Date: May 14, 2007