Corvette Racing qualifies on the GTS front row in Miami Oliver Gavin and Johnny O'Connell turn quick laps during Friday qualifying session Miami -- The General Motors Chevrolet Corvette Racing team secured the second and third positions on the...
Corvette Racing qualifies on the GTS front row in Miami
Oliver Gavin and Johnny O'Connell turn quick laps during Friday qualifying session
Miami -- The General Motors Chevrolet Corvette Racing team secured the second and third positions on the GTS grid during qualifying on Friday before the Grand Prix Americas in downtown Miami. Chevrolet factory drivers Oliver Gavin and Kelly Collins will start Saturday's race from the second position in the GTS class, ninth overall, after qualifying the #4 Compuware Corvette C5-R at 51:246. Ron Fellows and Johnny O'Connell will start the 2-hour, 45-minute race from the third position in class, or 11th overall on the 37-car grid, after qualifying their #3 Compuware Corvette C5-R at 51:576. The downtown Miami street circuit has been reconfigured from its inaugural 2002 layout; the new track makes up roughly 1.2 miles through Miami's Bayfront Park district and along Biscayne Boulevard.
"We're exactly where we want to be in terms of setup," said Harry Turner, GM's group manager for Road Racing. "I felt that both Johnny O'Connell and Oliver Gavin had very quick cars in the session. Unfortunately we had a limited amount of time to find the right package on our #4 Corvette as we had a few problems late in the previous practice run. We're looking forward to a great race."
Going into this weekend's 2-hour, 45-minute event, Chevrolet leads the GTS manufacturers' championship of the American Le Mans Series with only 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 seven 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.
Both Corvettes set a blistering pace in the early part of qualifying and were able to consistently post fast times, evidence of a balanced chassis and tire setup.
"We're very happy with these times," said Doug Fehan, GM's program manager for Corvette Racing. "We effectively qualified both of our cars on race tires, which is evidenced by how consistent our times were. If we can keep that pace tomorrow we'll be just fine."
Johnny O'Connell initially set one of the fastest times in the 20-minute session and felt confident GM Racing chassis engineers gave him the right race-day package.
"I'm very pleased with these times and both Ron and I know we have a comfortable race car," said O'Connell. "I had possibly a little too much rear brake bias, and got into some traffic, but for just learning this new track layout we have to be pretty happy. If we can run a clean race I think it will be another classic Ferrari and Corvette battle."
Oliver Gavin, who is currently tied for second place the GTS drivers' championship along with teammate Kelly Collins, set a similar time to that of O'Connell but shouldered the responsibility of a race car not fully developed for qualifying due to a mechanical problem during practice.
"We had some problems with an oil line to our transmission during practice and unfortunately that set us back to the point where we didn't have ample time to set the car up for qualifying," said Gavin. "That said, the boys did a superb job to get the car ready in a matter of minutes and it felt quite good, considering. I was able to get into the low 51-second range, but I feel that if we had more time we would have been somewhere in the mid 50's."
The Corvette Racing team will take to the track Saturday morning for a warmup session before staring the 2-hour, 45-minute Grand Prix Americas at 4:00 p.m.