07-20-2007: Corvette Racing Crushes GT1 Track Record in Mid-Ohio ALMS Qualifying
Gavin Awarded Pole After Post-Qualifying Inspection
Corvette Racing shattered the GT1 track record at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course today in qualifying for Saturday's American Le Mans Series Acura Sports Car Challenge. Oliver Gavin will start on the class pole after a qualifying duel with Johnny O'Connell was decided in technical inspection.
O'Connell toured the 2.25-mile Mid-Ohio circuit in 1:16.568 (106.164 mph) in the No. 3 Compuware Corvette C6.R, edging Gavin's fast lap of 1:16.635 (106.072 mph) in the No. 4 Compuware Corvette C6.R by .067 seconds. However, the No. 3 Corvette C6.R subsequently failed to pass a post-qualifying stall test and O'Connell's time was disallowed. Consequently the No. 3 Corvette will start the two-hour, 45-minute race from the back of the grid.
"Apparently there was a malfunction in the sealing of the airbox, and the engine didn't stall when IMSA officials tested it after qualifying," said Corvette Racing team manager Gary Pratt. "Therefore they disallowed the car's time."
Both Corvette drivers eclipsed the 1:18.033 GT1 qualifying record set by Gavin in May 2005 as they traded the fastest time throughout the 20-minute session. Gavin was out first and set the time to beat on his second lap at 1:17.064. O'Connell responded with a 1:16.980. Gavin then improved to 1:16.635, and O'Connell turned the fastest lap at 1:16.568. Gavin cooled his tires and made a final run for the pole, but fell just short with a lap at 1:16.699.
"On my two fastest laps I went a little too deep into Turns 4 and 11 and lost some time," Gavin said. "If I hadn't done that, I think we might have just got ahead of Johnny. But it's always going to be very close between the two Corvettes."
"This race track is a lot of fun to drive around," Gavin added. "The tarmac that's been down for about a year now is giving good grip, it's reasonably smooth, and we can attack the corners."
"We made a suspension change to our car right before qualifying that they had found worked well on the No. 4 Corvette," O'Connell reported. "Our car also responded to it. Both crews work together, and some of the mechanics from the No. 4 Corvette were helping on my car. Jan (Magnussen) was mega fast this morning and he definitely moved our car forward."
"They've improved the circuit, made the curbs more friendly, and I think every category is running faster," O'Connell continued. "Corvette Racing has also improved the Corvette C6.R and Michelin has improved the tires, so I'd expect us to be quicker than we were in 2005."
The Acura Sports Car Challenge, the seventh round of the 12-race ALMS series, will start at 3:15 p.m. EDT on Saturday, July 21. CBS Sports will televise the two-hour, 45-minute race tape-delayed at 2 p.m. EDT on Sunday, July 22.