Laguna Seca: Corvette Racing qualifying report

Corvette Racing prepares to make history at Laguna Seca ALMS Champions striving for first win at Monterey's hilly circuit Monterey, Calif. The General Motors Chevrolet Corvette Racing team secured the second row of the GTS grid during ...

Corvette Racing prepares to make history at Laguna Seca
ALMS Champions striving for first win at Monterey's hilly circuit

Monterey, Calif. The General Motors Chevrolet Corvette Racing team secured the second row of the GTS grid during qualifying on Saturday before the Monterey Sports Car Championships at Laguna Seca. Chevrolet factory drivers Oliver Gavin and Kelly Collins will start Sunday's race from the third position in the GTS class, 12th overall, after qualifying the #4 Compuware Corvette C5-R at 1:23:148. Ron Fellows and Johnny O'Connell will start Sunday's race from the fourth position in class, or 13th overall on the 35-car grid, after qualifying their #3 Compuware Corvette C5-R at 1:23:365. Both Corvettes recorded lap times over one second faster than last year's qualifying session despite new rule changes that restrict engine power.

"From an engine, chassis and tire perspective we have to be pleased with the times we posted today," said Doug Fehan, GM's program manager for Corvette Racing. "Although it's always better to start from the pole position, we think we've found a setup that will prove to be quite competitive during the race. We'll start strong on Sunday and see how everything plays out over the course of the afternoon."

Going into this race, Chevrolet leads the manufacturers' championship of the American Le Mans Series with Miami and Petit Le Mans remaining on the 2003 schedule. Ron Fellows and Johnny O'Connell lead the GTS driver standings while the Corvette Racing squad is in front for the team championship. Corvette has won five of six races in the ALMS to date, with Fellows and O'Connell co-driving to take three wins while Oliver Gavin and Kelly Collins claimed the other two.

Gavin, in his first year as a full-time works Corvette driver, set a new qualifying record for the Corvette C5-R at Laguna Seca as he reunited with chassis #008, which had been temporarily put out of race use after a crash at Mosport weeks ago.

"We've made some substantial gains in setup over the course of the weekend," said Gavin. "It feels good to be back in the same chassis within which Kelly and I won at Trois-Rivieres. I would rather stand on the pole position to start Sunday's race, but really that all changes shortly after the flag drops in any event. Kelly and I are going to push hard and we believe it will be another great race for the fans."

Johnny O'Connell, who is currently leading the GTS drivers' championship along with teammate Ron Fellows, also shattered the previous time set by Corvette during 2002's qualifying session.

"Our Corvette feels much better today than it did yesterday and I think you have to give a lot of credit to our crew for their work," said O'Connell. "If we can run a clean race, which in the past has been a challenge at this track, we really feel that it will be quite a battle. Our team has never won at Laguna Seca but that's only made the fire burn brighter."

The Corvette Racing team will take to the track Sunday morning for a practice session before staring the 2-hour, 45-minute Monterey Sports Car Championships at 12:00 p.m.

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About this article
Series ALMS
Drivers Ron Fellows , Johnny O'Connell , Kelly Collins , Oliver Gavin
Teams Corvette Racing