Laguna Seca: Corvette Racing qualifying report

Magnussen Claims First GT2 Pole for Corvette Racing Corvette C6.Rs Qualify First and Third for ALMS Season Finale at Laguna Seca MONTEREY, Calif., Oct. 9, 2009 -- Corvette Racing's development curve for the new-generation GT2 Corvette C6.R ...

Magnussen Claims First GT2 Pole for Corvette Racing
Corvette C6.Rs Qualify First and Third for ALMS Season Finale at Laguna Seca

MONTEREY, Calif., Oct. 9, 2009 -- Corvette Racing's development curve for the new-generation GT2 Corvette C6.R continued its upward trajectory today when Jan Magnussen won the pole for Saturday's Monterey Sports Car Championships at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. Magnussen claimed Corvette Racing's first GT2 pole when he topped the class with a lap of 1:23.053 (97.008 mph) in the No. 3 Compuware Corvette C6.R. Oliver Gavin qualified the No. 4 Compuware Corvette C6.R third in GT2 at 1:23.283 (96.740 mph).

The two Corvette C6.Rs sandwiched Risi Competizione's Ferrari 430 GT driven by Pierre Kaffer, which start second on the GT2 grid in the American Le Mans Series season finale. Corvette Racing's previous best qualifying performance in the GT2 category was third place at Mid-Ohio and Road Atlanta.

"The Michelins came in really quickly and I kept going faster and faster," said Magnussen, who notched his 10th career ALMS pole and his third straight at Laguna Seca (two in GT1 and one in GT2). "In practice I didn't expect to be fighting for the pole, but we expected to be up near the front. It seemed at the end of every session, the Porsches or Ferrari would do a very fast lap and put us down the order a little bit. To be on pole is just fantastic."

Magnussen and Gavin went out immediately at the start of the 20-minute qualifying session and both drivers completed six flying laps. In cool and windy conditions (64-degree air temperature and 79-degree track temperature) the cars went quicker on virtually every lap. Magnussen recorded his best time on his sixth and final circuit, while Gavin posted his quickest time on his fifth lap before encountering traffic on his final flyer.

Magnussen muscled his way past the No. 87 Porsche of Wolf Henzler at the start of the session to avoid traffic. "A clear track is really important in qualifying," the Dane explained. "Even if someone is a good ways ahead of you, they can take off that little bit of downforce that we need.

"The way that we set up the Corvette C6.R, it's not a qualifying setup -- it's a race setup," he said. "It's made to go faster every lap. Obviously we cannot run this fast in the beginning of the race because we will have a lot more fuel, and we'll expect the car to behave a little differently, but it should go faster and faster. We've had a history of doing that."

Gavin jumped from fifth to third on the qualifying list with his final effort.

"The car was going faster and faster as the tires were coming in," Gavin said. "The car felt very good, but not absolutely perfect, with a touch of mid-corner understeer. Catching traffic on the final lap was a bit frustrating, but Jan had to pass him as well. You always want to be quick, and we're in the hunt, but not on the pole. Well done to Jan, he did a great job."

Last season's ALMS race at Laguna Seca was marked by numerous caution periods. It's hoped that additional paving on the runoff areas of several corners will reduce the number of yellow-flag laps in tomorrow's four-hour race.

"This track gets sandy and slippery when the wind is blowing," Gavin noted. "It's a challenge because it seems like every time you go into a corner, it's different. The good thing is that we're up at the front and it looks like we'll be able to fight for the lead."

-credit: gm racing

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