O’Connell Quick in Mid-Ohio GT1 Qualifying
Georgian Takes Third Career Pole in No. 3 Corvette C6.R
LEXINGTON, Ohio – Johnny O’Connell notched his third career pole in qualifying for Saturday’s American Le Mans Series Acura Sports Car Challenge at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. The racer from Flowery Branch, Ga., set the pace in the GT1 class with a lap time of 1:17.900 (104.349 mph) in the No. 3 Compuware Corvette C6.R. Olivier Beretta was .429 seconds back in the No. 4 Compuware Corvette with a 1:18.329 (103.778 mph) qualifying time.
“I’m usually a pretty bad qualifier, and I was going up against Olivier Beretta, the guy who has won more poles than any other driver in the ALMS,” O’Connell said. “Anytime you can beat a guy like that, it’s a good day!”
Both Corvette drivers made five timed laps. O’Connell set his quick time on his third time around the 2.25-mile Mid-Ohio circuit, while Beretta was fastest on his fourth circuit.
“It was definitely a challenge because we went into qualifying on a tire compound that we hadn’t run before in anticipation of the track temperature tomorrow,” O’Connell explained. “It was disappointing we didn’t go faster, but the car didn’t like that setup. Jan (Magnussen) and I have had a good car and we’ve been fast in every session, so we’re looking forward to a great race tomorrow.”
Heat and humidity will be a factor in the two-hour, 45-minute race.
“It’s going to be a workout,” O’Connell predicted. “When we run after the Indy cars, we’ve got good grip even though they run a different tire. Then the track gets a little more slippery, so it will be interesting to see how the track changes on race day.”
Beretta had difficulty matching O’Connell’s pace. “I was pushing, trying to get the best that I can, but it was not good enough,” Beretta reported. “Traffic was a little bit of a problem, but we are struggling with the car.”
“The engineers and crew worked very well, they tried everything they could, but we just ran out of time,” he continued. “We have a problem, we are looking for the solution, and we will find it. This is part of the racing game, but the race is far from finished.”
The Acura Sports Car Challenge at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio, scheduled to start at 2:10 p.m. EDT on Saturday, July 19. NBC will televise the race tape-delayed on Sunday, July 20, at 12 p.m. EDT.
Acura Sports Car Challenge GT1 Qualifying:
1. O’Connell/Magnussen, Chevrolet Corvette C6.R, 1:17.900/104.349 mph
2. Gavin/Beretta, Chevrolet Corvette C6.R, 1:18.329/103.778 mph
Release Date: July 18, 2008