Rain Shortens Corvette Racing’s First Day of Le Mans Practice and Qualifying
Team Makes Steady Progress Despite Wet and Slippery Conditions
LE MANS, France – Ten days of ideal weather following the initial test of Corvette Racing’s new C6.R race cars at Le Mans on June 5 ended abruptly as the yellow Corvettes pulled out of the pit lane for the first of two four-hour practice and qualifying sessions. Rain arrived at the Sarthe circuit tonight at 7 p.m., shortening the team’s total track time to less than one hour. Despite the inclement weather, Corvette Racing checked off one important item on the Le Mans to-do list as all six drivers completed their mandatory laps in darkness.
“Despite the bad weather, we accomplished our goal of having the drivers complete their three required laps in the dark,” said GM Racing Road Racing Group manager Steve Wesoloski. “That’s one item we won’t have to worry about tomorrow night. We had hoped for two good sessions to continue to develop our Le Mans setup, so to lose four of the eight scheduled hours will certainly compress our plan.”
Light rain began to fall as Ron Fellows and Olivier Beretta pulled out the pits at 7 p.m. in their twin Compuware Corvette C6.Rs. Neither completed a lap at speed as the rainfall increased, and the team elected to sit out the remainder of the initial two-hour evening session.
Following a scheduled one-hour break, the test and qualifying session resumed at 10 p.m. Fellows, Johnny O’Connell and Max Papis cycled through the No. 63 Compuware Corvette, while Beretta, Jan Magnussen and Oliver Gavin completed their appointed rounds in the No. 64 Compuware Corvette. With most cars on the course turning lap times nearly 30 seconds slower than those recorded during the test day, the Corvette team called it a day at 10:55 p.m.
“You’ve got to look at the big picture, and the worst thing we could do now is to damage either of the cars in conditions we’re not going to race in,” said O’Connell. “The weather outlook for Saturday and Sunday is hot and sunny, so there’s no reason to take any chances when the track is dark, wet and slippery. We’ll pray for better weather tomorrow, but if it’s wet, we’re going to have to lay down some fast times for our starting position.”
“The track was difficult because there was some damp places and some dry,” said Beretta. “I just took it easy and made my three laps, and got the data the engineers wanted. Everything went well.”
Gavin agreed with his teammate’s assessment after completing his required laps around the 8.5-mile course. “This track is always fun to drive around whether it’s wet or it’s dry, but tonight the surface seemed to have a glaze on it in sections,” he explained. “There’s new black asphalt coming out of Mulsanne and going down through Indianapolis and Arnage, and on that whole section you’re guessing whether it’s wet or dry. It’s pointless to try to accomplish our test plan in this situation because it’s imperative to keep the race car together. Tomorrow is going to be dry, and so today proved absolutely nothing, unfortunately.”
Practice and qualifying for the 24 Hours of Le Mans concludes on Thursday, June 16, with sessions from 7-9 p.m. and 10 p.m. to midnight. The 24 Hours of Le Mans will begin at 10 a.m. EDT (4 p.m. local time) on June 18. SPEED Channel will televise 17.5 hours of live coverage; check local listings for times.
24 Hours of Le Mans First Practice/Qualifying Session Summary, GT1 Class:
1. (50) Goueslard-Dupard-Vosse, Ferrari 550, 4:20.688
2. (59) Brabham-Sarrazin-Turner, Aston Martin DBR9, 4:22.600
3. (61) Fomenko-Vasiliev-Bouchut, Ferrari 550, 4:23.885
4. (52) Bartyan-Malucelli-Seiler, Ferrari 550, 4:24.686
5. (51) Pescatori-Gollin-Ramos, Ferrari 550, 4:30.973
6. (58) Enge-Kox-Lamy, Aston Martin DBR9, 4:31.022
7. (69) de Fournoux-Daoudi, Ferrari 575, 4:33.600
8. (64) Gavin-Beretta-Magnussen/Chevrolet Corvette C6.R, 4:36.209
9. (63) O’Connell-Fellows-Papis/Chevrolet Corvette C6.R, 4:36.309
Release Date: June 15, 2005