CORE autosport concentrates on race setup at Petit
BRASELTON, GA, Friday, September 30, 2011: No points are issued for starting spots, no prize money, and with two championships on the line, CORE autosport elected to continue to hone their race setups during today’s qualifying session for the 2011 American Le Mans Series (ALMS) finale - Saturday’s Petit Le Mans Powered by Mazda.
The 15 minute qualifying session resulted in some startlingly fast times in the Le Mans Prototype Challenge (LMPC) class, with many competitors apparently setting up their cars for a one-lap run for the pole position around the 12-turn 2.54-mile Road Atlanta circuit.
CORE autosport did well with their two cars optimized for the upcoming 1000-mile event. Gunnar Jeannette drove a best lap of 1:15.688 behind the wheel of the #06 Excel Consultants / Composite Resources ORECA FLM09 for a fourth position class starting spot (21st overall). Frankie Montecalvo drove the sister #05 Bayshore Recycling / Composite Resources machine to a sixth place in class starting spot (23rd overall) with a best lap of 1:16.533.
Both times were the fastest registered for the CORE autosport machines since the team arrived at the track.
In preparation for the gruelling day-into-night contest, the entire CORE autosport team worked hard throughout a variety of practice sessions on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday to find a balance of speed, stability and comfort. These are all essential elements for the first-year team to complete a successful run for two 2011 championships - a mere three points separate Jeannette and Gonzalez from leader Eric Lux for the driver championship title and CORE autosport is two points behind Lux’ Genoa Racing for the LMPC team championship title.
Their efforts paid off - the #06 team, made up of Jeannette, Ricardo Gonzalez and Rudy Junco, emerged on top of three out of the four practice sessions leading up to the race – Wednesday, Thursday morning and night, and the final practice on Friday morning. The only other practice – Thursday afternoon – was led by the #05, driven by Montecalvo, team principal Jon Bennett and Ryan Dalziel.
“Obviously fourth is not where I’d like to be, but all week we focused on a good race car, not a good qualifying car.
“We might not have the ultimate pace over one lap, but I really like the car and I think it’s going to be good for us in the race.
"It’s a long day tomorrow.”
“It’s going to be a matter of being there at the end.
"It’s a ten hour or less race, and definitely it will not be decided in the first three hours, but the last two, or maybe one.
“We have to keep the car in good shape, make sure our strategy works and just be ready to race at the final stint or double-stint.”
“It’s a very long race and I think we have a very good race car.
"I have two great co-drivers in Gunnar and Ricardo. I’m not worried at all.
"The objective is there – we want a nice clean race, to get a rhythm going and be there at the end. That’s about it.
“I think we’re going to be where we want to be at the end.”
"I think we’re in a good position for a really good result tomorrow. This week we’ve really been focusing on getting a car that drives well for long periods of time – a car that can cut good lap times while being comfortable and easy on the tires.
“I think while we would’ve liked to have qualified better, we have two cars that are set up to be high-performing endurance cars and with our lineup of drivers I’m confident that we’ll have a good result.
“I’m hoping to be spraying some champagne on Saturday night.”
“I had a lot of fun out there and tried to drive as hard as I could. The team gave me a great car – it just kept getting better and better during and I just kept finding the grip.
“Unfortunately due to a variety of circumstances I haven’t had a lot of time in the car over the past few days, but when I got into it today I found that the longer I drove it, the more I could find in the car and the better it got. I wanted to run even more laps out there during today’s session!
“I’m very happy with the team and the car and I think we’ll have a good run.”
“These endurance races are not won on the first lap. For a race like this with so much time to run and so many cars on the track qualifying is far less important.
“The key is to have a good car and keep out of trouble, as well as have some solid co-drivers. Then the pieces fall into place for a good result.
“I’m lucky to have all those pieces. We have a good car, I’m proud of what Frankie’s done and how Jon has developed into a solid teammate. I think we have what it takes to do well in the race.”