Corvette, Lizard sweep to GT poles at Le Mans

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Corvette, Lizard sweep to GT poles at Le Mans

The formbook held true in both GT classes at qualifying for Saturday's 24 Hours of Le Mans as teams primarily worked on race setups. A factory Corvette Racing C6.R took the GT1 pole, while the Flying Lizard Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 RSR scored...

The formbook held true in both GT classes at qualifying for Saturday's 24 Hours of Le Mans as teams primarily worked on race setups. A factory Corvette Racing C6.R took the GT1 pole, while the Flying Lizard Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 RSR scored the top starting position in GT2.

The lone yellow Corvette, the #63 of Jan Magnussen, Johnny O'Connell and Antonio Garcia, set the quick lap in GT1. Half a second separated the #63 from its sister car, the jet black #64 driven by Oliver Gavin, Olivier Beretta and Marcel Fassler.

#63 Corvette Racing Corvette C6.R: Johnny O'Connell, Jan Magnussen, Antonio Garcia.
Photo by Eric Gilbert.

Magnussen said, like many in the GT field, setups were focused on the race in comparison to setting aside a separate qualifying setup.

"There was no traffic or anything on the quick lap," Magnussen said. "It was a race setup, it's not really productive to spend time on qualifiers. The race is most important."

Aston Martin managed to squeeze into third fastest, Alex Muller quickest of the three drivers in the light blue and white Jetalliance Racing GMBH #66 DBR9. The car may not have the standard British racing green color but it does have a chandelier in its team garage as a tribute to its sponsors.

Muller was two seconds off Magnussen's pace; the Dane running a best time of 3:54.230 to Muller's 3:56.126. The #64 was in between at 3:54.702. The #66 car is co-driven by Muller, Lukas Lichtner-Hoyer and Thomas Gruber in the Austrian effort.

The Alphand Corvettes, aiming more for race pace and reliability than quickness in qualifying, are fourth and fifth in GT1. The lead #72 car driven by team owner Luc Alphand, Patrice Goueslard and Stephan Gregoire beat home the trio of Le Mans youngsters Yann Clairay in his second Le Mans start and Julien Jousse and Xavier Maassen, Le Mans 24H rookies.

Naturally, Magnussen admitted the battle for what could be the final race of the GT1 class at Le Mans will be an intra-squad duel of the two Corvette C6.Rs.

"Absolutely -- it will be a great challenge from Aston and Luc Alphand, but at the end the 63 and 64 will be fighting for the win," Magnussen said.

In GT2, Porsche 911 GT3 RSRs swept the top two positions with Flying Lizard Motorsports pulling a proverbial rabbit out of the hat late in the session, edging the Team Felbermayr-Proton #77 entry.

Jorg Bergmeister beat the quickest lap set by Marc Lieb, 4:03.202 to a 4:03.232. The Lizard car was languishing down the order for most of the first half of the session, with Bergmeister's co-drivers Darren Law and Seth Neiman behind the wheel.

#80 Flying Lizard Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 RSR: Jorg Bergmeister, Darren Law, Seith Neiman.
Photo by Eric Gilbert.

After the team admitted no worries and merely a focus on race setup, since the GT2 fight is likely an all-out sprint rather than just surviving, Bergmeister set down the pace to knock Lieb off the pole.

Neiman admitted surprise at the pole while Law remained akin to a kid in a candy store, so absorbed and engaged in his inaugural Le Mans experience.

"As we worked through practice, we didn't think it was possible," Flying Lizard team principal Neiman said. "Jorg proved once again a difficult to drive car can still be a very fast car. It was a really great lap by Jorg, after some very tough competition with Lieb."

"I really don't know how to explain it," Law said. "Growing up as a kid you dream of being here, and I'm so excited and so happy to be here."

The Lizards are looking for their maiden class win here in five starts, but secured their first pole position here this evening. In a bit of trivia, Law discovered his Rolex Series teammate and sports car legend Hurley Haywood of Brumos Racing won his Le Mans debut, in a Porsche, 32 years ago. So it's up to Law to see if he can emulate it.

The Lieb/Richard Lietz/Wolf Henzler car is second on the grid, with the Risi Competizione Ferrari F430 GT head of the Italian car class in third. The #82 Risi is driven by Mika Salo, Jaime Melo and Pierre Kaffer.

Risi searches for its fourth consecutive endurance win having won last year's 24 Hours of Le Mans, Petit Le Mans and this year's 12 Hours of Sebring in succession. They will do so with a new engine, installed before qualifying, in an attempt to match the straight line speed the Porsches are expected to have.

The two non-Ferraris and Porsches finished ninth and 11th on the grid. The #87 Drayson Racing Aston Martin Vantage of Paul Drayson, Jonny Cocker and Marino Franchitti led the #85 Snoras Spyker Squadron C8 Laviolette of Tom Coronel, Jeroen Bleekemolen and Jarek Janis.

Crowd favorite Patrick Dempsey, co-driving with Joe Foster and Don Kitch Jr. in the #81 Team Seattle Advanced Engineering Ferrari F430 GT, had a rough go of it in qualifying.

The team was slowest of all cars bar the drivetrain-plagued GT1 JLOC Lamborghini Murcielago, and Dempsey spun off at one point at Indianapolis corner. The good news is the car suffered no damage and should be set to go in a quest to raise as much money as possible for the hospitals and charities it is running here to support.

See also: Sarrazin takes Le Mans pole for Peugeot

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