CORVETTES PROMOTED TO 1-2 ON LE MANS GT2 GRID Risi Ferrari's time disallowed in technical inspections Corvette Racing's two Corvette C6.Rs will start 1-2 in the GT2 class at the 24 Hours of Le Mans on Saturday. Oliver Gavin's lap of 3:59.435...
CORVETTES PROMOTED TO 1-2 ON LE MANS GT2 GRID
Risi Ferrari's time disallowed in technical inspections
Corvette Racing's two Corvette C6.Rs will start 1-2 in the GT2 class at the 24 Hours of Le Mans on Saturday. Oliver Gavin's lap of 3:59.435 during Thursday's second qualifying session edged out teammate Jan Magnussen, whose best lap of 3:59.793 put him just 0.358 seconds behind the pole- sitting Briton.
The Corvettes were second and third after Thursday's final session. The provisional pole-winning Risi Competizione Ferrari F430 GT of Gianmaria Bruni, Jaime Melo and Pierre Kaffer will start from the back of the grid after race officials found it to be out of compliance in technical inspections. Bruni had set a time of 3:59.361.
"As always here in qualifying, it was a bit of a banzai run," Gavin said. "The guys sent me out with great tires and good position on the track. I felt that if only we could get a clean lap and I could get it all together, the time would be there.
"It looks like Le Mans is going to be a fantastic race between us and Ferrari and Porsche," he added. "This event has really been our focus, and the Corvette has come on strong."
GT2 was stunningly close in qualifying. The top three cars qualified within 0.402 seconds with AF Corse's Ferrari of Toni Vilander, Giancarlo Fisichella and Jean Alesi third at 3:59.837. Vilander and Fisichella - a veteran of more than 230 starts in Formula 1 - will drive a second Risi Ferrari at next month's Utah Grand Prix, the next round of the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón.
The rest of the field remained intact from Thursday. Highcroft Racing will start second in LMP2 after David Brabham's lap of 3:34.537 in the HPD ARX- 01c that he will share with Marino Franchitti and Marco Werner. Brabham had improved his time from Wednesday's qualifying by three seconds but he still fell short of Strakka Racing's Danny Watts, who turned a lap of 3:33.079 in another HPD ARX-01c.
"I had a go at another qualifying lap but I had too much traffic and then I out-braked myself at the first chicane. I thought that was it and the team got on the radio about another set of Michelin qualifiers," said Brabham, who is going for his fourth straight class victory at Le Mans. "I thought, 'Yeah, let's go because we were really getting into the mood of qualifying.
"I then thought better of it, because we have to keep concentrating on the race. Well done to Strakka - that was a great lap time by Danny and I am really pleased for him to go out there and show his talent. I could feel myself getting a bit caught up in the qualifying excitement but I'm glad we switched back to race preparations because Marino got back in for a longer run and identified an issue we need to work on."
Peugeot kept its hold on the top four positions at the head of the grid. Sebastien Bourdais' lap of 3:19.711 from Wednesday's held up. He is driving with Pedro Lamy and Simon Pagenaud, who drives with Brabham in the Highcroft LMP entry in the American Le Mans Series.
Bourdais was just 0.606 seconds clear of the second-place Peugeot of Alexander Wurz, Marc Gene and Anthony Davidson. The trio won the season- opening Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring presented by Fresh from Florida.
The quickest of the new Audi R15 Plus diesels was the car of Timo Bernhard, Mike Rockenfeller and Romain Dumas and Romain Dumas at 3:21.981, set Thursday. Their car was still 2.270 seconds behind Bourdais' Peugeot.