SONOMA, Calif. - The General Motors Chevrolet Corvette Racing team captured the top three positions in the GTS class during qualifying on Saturday at Infineon Raceway. Celebrating its 50th race, the factory program has expanded to three cars, with...
SONOMA, Calif. - The General Motors Chevrolet Corvette Racing team captured the top three positions in the GTS class during qualifying on Saturday at Infineon Raceway. Celebrating its 50th race, the factory program has expanded to three cars, with Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and Boris Said in the #8 Corvette C5-R. During qualifying, Corvette driver Oliver Gavin set the fastest lap on the 2.53 mile circuit with a time of 1:28.042. All three Corvette drivers eclipsed the previous track record.
"Today was our first experience with the new qualifying format and I have to say that the team loved it," said Doug Fehan, program manager for Corvette Racing. "Clearly we've met the challenge of providing three very well prepared race cars and are looking forward to a fast and fun race."
The American Le Mans Series introduced a new form of "single-car" qualifying for this weekend's event. The new qualifying format is in a one-race trial at Sonoma. Unlike single-car qualifying formats used in many other forms of racing, the format for the ALMS had multiple cars on the track at the same time, dispatched individually at specific intervals timed to maximize the opportunity for each car to have clear track. The cars lined up for qualifying in reverse order of the fastest lap achieved in the practice session immediately prior to qualifying; since the Corvettes were fastest in the GTS class on Saturday they qualified last. Each car had a total of four laps on the track during the qualifying session, including an out lap, two flying laps and an in-lap.
"The new format is a lot of fun," said Oliver Gavin, pole sitter in the #4 Corvette C5-R. "I had the carrot of Ron going out before me and setting an amazing lap time, so I think that might have lit the fire under me. The track conditions were very good and I was able to run a very clean lap."
Ron Fellows set a blistering time of 1:28.234 in the session and gave credit to his crew for their foresight in preparing the car's tires.
"I was a bit surprised when I looked at the monitor and saw my lap time," said Fellows. "The grip levels came up very quickly and I was happy with the car. The engineers and crew did a great job to set the tire pressures correctly so the conditions were perfect when I got in the car."
Boris Said qualified the #8 Corvette C5-R, co-driving with Dale Earnhardt, Jr. for Sunday.
"That was a great session but I'm still not familiar with carbon brakes and on the first lap I didn't have them warm enough," said Said. "I had a great second lap going but went off a bit at 7B. I've been faster every time I've been in the car, so I'm quite happy about that for tomorrow."
Dale Earnhardt, Jr. watched as Said qualified the #8 Corvette. Chevrolet's NASCAR star commented on the unique experience of sports car racing.
"It's going to be quite different for me out there-watching for the prototypes and the GT cars, being careful and having a lot of respect for everyone out there," said Earnhardt, Jr. "You know, I don't do this every weekend and to be here is a big honor for me to race against such a great group of competitors. I am just trying to earn respect and pay my dues out there and take my time and work my way up. I feel like we have a good chance to get a great finish this weekend if we keep our heads straight."