Corvettes to Start Eighth and Ninth in Petit Le Mans
Corvette C6.Rs Qualify Quicker Than Last Year's Pole in Fiercely Competitive GT Field
BRASELTON, Ga., Sept. 30, 2011 – The qualifying times for Saturday's Petit Le Mans, the season finale of the American Le Mans Series, are a testament to the intense competition in the GT category. Corvette Racing's twin Compuware Corvette C6.Rs qualified more than a second quicker than they did in 2010, and both were under last year's pole-winning time. In spite of this step up in performance, the Corvettes are slotted eighth and ninth on the GT grid for the 10-hour/1,000-mile race.
Jan Magnussen qualified the No. 4 Corvette C6.R with a fast lap at 1:19.586 (114.895 mph) and will start eighth in the GT category. Tommy Milner was a heartbeat behind at 1:19.619 (114.847 mph) that put the No. 3 Corvette C6.R ninth in the class. Gianmaria Bruni captured the GT pole in the No. 51 AF Corse Ferrari 458 Italia with the category's fastest lap at 1:18.699 (116.190 mph). For comparison, last year's pole-winning time was 1:19.889.
"That was the absolute maximum, the fastest we've gone since we arrived, and it was good enough for eighth," said Magnussen. "That's not satisfying at all, but that's what we've got. We gave it our best. The competition is very strong, and it's going to be a long, hard race. I think we have a good race car, and in the areas where we need to race people, we're strong."
Magnussen turned his quickest time on his fourth flying lap around the 2.54-mile, 12-turn circuit. Milner completed three laps, then pitted for a suspension adjustment. He then posted his best time on his seventh lap.
"We've been really good all week long, just trying to make the car incrementally better," Milner said. "We had some understeer that we wanted to dial out of the car, but in qualifying we went a little too far. I came in for a quick change, went back out, and set a decent time.
"The car felt really good, I could have improved a little, but this track is just so tough to get everything right," Milner noted. "I'm not unhappy. We're only a tenth of a second away from P5. We've had great race cars all year long, and I'm looking forward to a great race tomorrow."
With 53 cars scheduled to start the race, the track will be packed and the racing frantic. "It's going to be crowded," Magnussen observed. "Up front there's a vicious battle between the leading prototypes, and in our category there is a battle for second in the championship. There are many European teams that want to do well in the ILMC. It's going to be wild."
Corvette Racing scored its eight victory at Petit Le Mans last year after the race-winning No. 4 Corvette C6.R qualified sixth.
"We're not happy with the Corvettes' qualifying positions today, but we're very proud of the team," said Corvette Racing engineering director Doug Louth. "We left nothing on the table – both drivers said the cars were very good, the best they've had all week. The drivers and engineers have made great progress through the week. Today's qualifying was all that we have right now with the regulations as they are."