Magnussen Claims GT1 Pole in Laguna Seca ALMS Season Finale
Corvette Racing Sweeps Pit Stop Competition with One-Two Finish
MONTEREY, Calif. – Jan Magnussen put the No. 3 Compuware Corvette C6.R on the GT1 pole for Saturday’s four-hour season finale of the American Le Mans Series with a record-setting lap at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. Magnussen eclipsed the 1:20.307 track record set in 2005 with a time of 1:19.304 (101.594 mph). Olivier Beretta also bettered the previous mark in the No. 4 Compuware Corvette C6.R with a qualifying lap at 1:19.664 (101.135 mph).
“It turned out we had a really fast Corvette,” said Magnussen after winning his fourth pole of the season and the sixth of his ALMS career. “I had some traffic to deal with, but when the tires were at their best I managed to do my lap time.”
Magnussen drove the team’s spare Corvette C6.R after his primary car was badly damaged in a shunt at Road Atlanta two weeks ago. Magnussen also had contact with a prototype in this morning’s practice session, and the No. 3 Corvette crew had to repair the resulting damage before the qualifying session.
“I’m so pleased with what everybody has done with this car for this weekend,” Magnussen noted. “It’s a new car to us, and there have been a few things that are different. The guys have done a tremendous job.”
Magnussen set the GT1 qualifying record on his first flying lap at 1:19.478, then reset the mark at 1:19.304 on his third lap to edge Beretta for the pole by .360 seconds.
“The track surface feels slippery, although we are going faster than last year,” the Dane explained. “You have to drive very calmly, with slow hands, but the car seems to work well here. I’m really sad we don’t have any Aston Martins here to beat.”
Beretta also recorded his quickest time on his third qualifying lap.
“I was at the back of the queue, and I had to overtake one or two cars every lap,” Beretta reported. “I had just one good lap and it came up short. The car was quick and very good, but in qualifying you need two or three clear laps and then the lap time comes.”
Corvette Racing introduced new graphics this weekend at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, a rendering of Jake, the team’s skull mascot. The new look has drawn crowds in the ALMS paddock.
“This Jake dude seems to be doing a good job for us,” program manager Doug Fehan said with a laugh. “I’m not really surprised at how quick the Corvettes went in qualifying. The team has been working hard all year, so I thought we’d be quicker here. Combine that with a new track surface and I think a qualifying record was inevitable. When you bring quality people with quality equipment to a quality venue, you’re going to see quick lap times.”
Before the 20-minute qualifying session today, both of Corvette Racing’s pit crews competed in the final round of the Klein Tools Pit Crew Challenge. Facing the formidable Dyson Racing team, Corvette Racing dominated the competition with a one-two finish. Led by crew chief Dan Binks, the No. 3 Corvette C6.R crew claimed the $20,000 first prize, and the No. 4 crew under Ray Gongla finished second.
The finale of the season-long pit stop competition pitted teams against the clock as the crews had to perform a driver change, a simulated 30-second fuel stop, and a four-tire change. The No. 3 Corvette crew had the quickest time of the competition at 41.38 seconds in a preliminary round, and then won the final round with a time of 42.82 seconds.
“All the guys on both crews work really hard on their pit stops,” said Binks after the No. 3 crew won the pit stop crown for the second time in three years. “These guys make me proud, and they should be proud of what they do.”
“What could be better than a one-two finish in the Klein Tools Pit Crew Challenge?” said team manager Gary Pratt. “We hoped that it would come down to a match between our two crews in the final. It doesn’t make any difference which crew wins when we get a one-two finish. It was a great team effort; the crews practice together and they work together to develop the pit stop process. We think it makes a difference during a race.”
The Monterey Sports Car Championships, the final round of the 12-race ALMS series, will start at 2:43 p.m. PT on Saturday, October 20. The four-hour race will be televised live on SPEED Channel from 5:30 to 10 p.m. ET.
Monterey Sports Car Championships GT1 Qualifying:
1. O’Connell/Magnussen, Chevrolet Corvette C6.R, 1:19.304/101.594 mph
2. Gavin/Beretta, Chevrolet Corvette C6.R, 1:19.664/101.135 mph
Release Date: October 19, 2007