Magnussen Motors to GT1 Pole in Motown
Drying Detroit Grand Prix Street Circuit Yields Quick Time for No. 3 Corvette on Final Qualifying Lap
DETROIT – Jan Magnussen reprised his pole-winning performance for Saturday’s Detroit Sports Car Challenge, taking the top qualifying spot in the GT1 class for the second consecutive year. Summer showers soaked the Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix’s 2.096-mile temporary circuit in both practice sessions today, limiting the Corvettes to a handful of laps before the 20-minute qualifying session began. Magnussen turned his quickest time on his fifth and final flying lap at 1:24.477 (88.213 mph) in the No. 3 Compuware Corvette C6.R. Oliver Gavin was 1.024 seconds back at 1:25.501 (87.1587 mph) in the No. 4 Compuware Corvette C6.R.
“The first dry lap I had all day was the first lap in qualifying,” Magnussen said after claiming his second pole of the season on a street circuit. “The track was getting better and better, and we needed a few laps to get the Michelins up to operating temperature. The Corvette C6.R worked very well under the circumstances.
“It was very, very tough,” the Dane added. “It was a matter of thinking about how I drove the track last year, remembering my braking points and so on. Everybody was trying to find the right line. I didn’t get a clear lap, but I don’t think anyone did. I’m happy with the result; this makes the race a little easier.”
Both Corvettes deviated from their usual qualifying strategy in the changing conditions. They ran a single timed lap, then returned to the pits to wait for the track to dry. With 10 minutes remaining in the session, both returned to the track for five timed laps.
“The track was drying and it wasn’t as good at the beginning of the session as it was at the end,” said Corvette Racing team manager Gary Pratt. “We sent the drivers out to get a time and then brought them back in. If the drivers don’t get a qualifying time and the session ends early because of a red flag, the cars would start at the back of the grid. Our strategy was to put a time down, let the track dry out, and then run when the conditions were better.”
Magnussen’s pole-winning time on the freshly scrubbed racing surface was more than three seconds slower than his qualifying time last year. Gavin also had to fight for traction, turning his fastest time on his fourth timed lap. He encountered traffic on his fifth lap as the session drew to a close.
“The circuit was very green and had very little grip,” Gavin said. “We struggled throughout that session and just could not get the car working to my liking. We really had only one shot at it. The GT2 cars were very close in lap times, and some of them qualified in front of me, which is very unusual. I think that comes from running very few laps here in the dry.”
The Detroit Sports Car Challenge presented by Bosch is scheduled to start at 2:35 p.m. EDT on Saturday, August 30. SPEED will televise the two-hour, 45-minute race live starting at 2:30 p.m. EDT.
Detroit Sports Car Challenge presented by Bosch Qualifying:
1. O’Connell/Magnussen, Chevrolet Corvette C6.R, 1:24.477/88.213 mph
2. Gavin/Beretta, Chevrolet Corvette C6.R, 1:25.501/87.157 mph
3. Borcheller/Ducote, Aston Martin DBR9, 1:26.676/85.975 mph
Release Date: August 29, 2008