CORE autosport to start second and fourth for a six-hour fracas at Laguna Seca
MONTEREY, CA, Friday, September 16, 2011: Driving your wheels off took a new turn in today’s qualifying session for tomorrow’s six-hour penultimate round of the American Le Mans Series for current Le Mans Prototype Challenge championship leader Gunnar Jeannette.
Jeannette was in a steady battle with eventual pole winner Kyle Marcelli in a lap-by-lap contest for first starting spot and his #06 Excel Consultants / Composite Resources ORECA FLM09. Jeannette got within .39 seconds of the goal, but a wild off-track excursion off of Turn 6 left him in second place (eighth overall). The #06 returned to the CORE autosport paddock area unscathed, much to the relief of the team and co-drivers Ricardo Gonzalez and Rudy Junco.
Andy Wallace, sports car veteran and former 24 Hours of Le Mans winner, ran his first qualifying session for the CORE autosport team, ending up with a fourth starting spot in the LMPC class (10th overall) in the sister #05 Bayshore Recycling / Composite Resources machine. The #05, which will be co-driven by Wallace, team founder Jon Bennett and young driver Frankie Montecalvo, had a more of a race setup rather than all-out qualifying setup during the session.
The ModSpace American Le Mans Monterey presented by Tequila Patrón eventat Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca is the eighth out of nine 2011 championship events.
Besides two successful practice sessions, the day was marked by a celebration of Mexican Independence Day, especially meaningful to Mexican stars Gonzalez and Junco. The team hosted a mariachi band at the team transporter and the #06 car features a special “Viva Mexico” livery.
“I think that session can be best described for myself and the #06 car as ‘attempting to find the quickest rally racing line around the track.’
“Unfortunately it wasn’t the session we were looking for but we ended up P2, which isn’t a horrible place to be. We’ve had some drama in the last couple of days with an engine issue (since solved) and some other things that we may have missed the setup a little bit.
“I never did get a lap that I was completely happy with, and of course I want to say that if the red flag hadn’t have come out and we could’ve gotten that little bit of extra time, I would’ve been able to put in another lap and gotten it.
“I did however get some pretty good footage for TV today and I have all the confidence in the world in the CORE autosport engineering staff to provide us with a great car for tomorrow.”
“Six hours is a long race. I’m not worried about starting in second place. I think our driver lineup is better than most of the other cars out there, so it will be a matter of staying out of trouble, avoiding mistakes for driver and the crew and having no mechanical failures.
“Do all that and we should be fine at the end of the race.
“I’m going to be the first driver in the car tomorrow. My goal will be to get a big gap to second place, maintain our pace and not be pressured during my two hour shift.”
"I feel great heading into tomorrow.
“It’s a long race and history has indicated that if you keep your nose clean, have a constant pace, good rhythm, no errors usually you end up in a good place in the end. We have a strong driver lineup, a strong car, and there’s no reason why we shouldn’t be up there.
“I got some good practice time in the car today. I love the track and these cars are great fun to drive. I’m ready to race.”
"I would say that CORE autosport had a good qualifying run – we ended the session with two healthy cars.
“For Gunnar’s run, it just shows you that sometimes a tenth here and a tenth there can be hard to get in this tough class.
"Six hours is a long race – sure we’d like to be at the top of the charts today, but what matters is where we finish tomorrow and I think we’re going to do well.
“Both of our cars will be competitive and I’m personally honored to be sharing a ride with Andy Wallace. I can’t wait.”
“We’re heading in the right direction with the car. This is a weekend where we came out with just an OK car, and every setup change we’ve made there’s been an improvement. It just shows how much the team is learning and I feel very comfortable with the team.
“Overall we’ve got a good race car which is the most important thing when going into a six hour race – it’s comfortable to drive.
“I just love this track. Last year was my first time in here in the Prototype Lites cars and with the LMPC cars it’s just that much more fun.”
"“I’m very happy with the car overall. Prior to the session we spoke about taking some wing off for qualifying, which in hindsight wasn’t the right thing to do because we had a little too much understeer, which for qualifying you don’t want – it’s about pushing the car to the edge.
“As far as race setup I think we’ve got the perfect car. I’m the new guy and I think the car is great and I’m comfortable with the crew and my teammates. And it’s that comfort you need - and of course a good, steady, drivable car – for a six hour race. I’m looking forward to it.”