Intense qualifying for CORE autosport at Road America
ELKHART LAKE, WI, Friday, August 19, 2011: A mere .095 seconds. That was the difference in the Le Mans Prototype Challenge (LMPC) class qualifying session between first and second place for tomorrow’s Time Warner Road Race Showcase featuring the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón.
Gunnar Jeannette, driving the #06 Excel Consultants / Composite Resources ORECA FLM09 laid down a fast lap at the 4.048-mile Road America circuit of 1:59.357 to land the second spot behind pole sitter Butch Leitzinger in the #52 PR1 machine (1:59.262).
Jeannette’s fast lap was laid down with just over a minute left in the 15-minute qualifying session, with the top four LMPC cars juggling the top spot multiple times in the last five minutes. As a result of this intense battle and the near-identical racing machines, the top four positions are separated by a mere 0.14 second.
Jon Bennett, driving the sister #05 Bayshore Recycling / Composite Resources car will start sixth after his machine was rebuilt by the team in a mere 35 minutes after a late practice crash.
Road America’s tricky turn 12 proved to be a difficult spot for the #05 machine, with Bennett’s co-driver Montecalvo off-track in that corner in Thursday’s test session and Friday morning practice, as well as Bennett’s serious encounter with a tire wall close to the same spot approximately 45 minutes prior to the start of the Friday afternoon qualifying session.
With qualifying in jeopardy for the #05 – which would mean it would start behind the 35 other ALMS machines in Saturday’s race, including much slower GT cars – the CORE autosport team worked quickly to rebuild the car, replacing almost all bodywork and repairing any damaged mechanical components in minutes. Bennett then qualified with a fast lap of 2:02.592, but not without issue. Turn 12 did “bite” again during qualifying, with Bennett spinning toward the end of the session.
The driving lineup for tomorrow’s event, which begins at 3 p.m. CST (4 p.m. EST) and extends into the evening, will feature Jeannette’s teammate Ricardo Gonzalez take the first shift in the #06 car and Montecalvo lead off in the #05. Gonzalez and Jeannette look to continue extending their lead in the LMPC class driver championship, while the entire CORE autosport organization will work to take the LMPC team championship.
Post-qualifying, CORE autosport drivers and team members took to the track in a different fashion, as part of the tourdeRoadAmerica. This special on-track bicycle ride benefitted the Austin Hatcher Foundation, the Lance Armstrong Foundation and the Vince Lombardi Cancer Clinic.
The Time Warner Road Race Showcase featuring the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrónwill be aired live on ESPN3.com on ESPN3.com on Saturday, August 20 at 3:45 p.m. EST. ABC-TV will televise a tape-delayed highlight of the event on Sunday, August 21 at 4:30 p.m. EST.
International viewers can see the event live on MotorsTV, Rogers Sports Net, Fox Sports Middle East and Fox Latin America Networks.