Not so Petit hill to climb at Road Atlanta

The day after his 39th birthday Olly was looking for a late birthday gift in terms of a favourable qualifying position for tomorrow’s Petit Le Mans, but the GT racing gods decided not to grant it to him on this occasion. Jan, whose turn it was to qualify the No. 4 Corvette C6.R, claimed eighth position on the GT grid – lower than the drivers and team had hoped for.

However, the qualifying times for Saturday’s season finale of the American Le Mans Series are a testament to the intense competition in the GT category rather than any failing on the part of the Corvette team or drivers.  The two yellow cars both qualified more than a second quicker than in 2010 and both were under last year’s pole-winning time.  In spite of this step up in performance, the Corvettes are slotted eighth and ninth on the GT grid for the 10-hour/1,000-mile race.

Gianmaria Bruni captured the GT pole in the No. 51 AF Corse Ferrari 458 Italia with the category’s fastest lap at 1:18.699, over a second faster than last year’s pole time.

“I think we’ve got the maximum from our car and there’s nothing more to come,” said Oliver after qualifying.   “Jan gave it all he could but it shows that, at the end of a long season, we’re now up against it a bit with the rules and regulations and there needs to be a rebalance on who is where in terms of width of cars and restrictors and other bits and pieces.  I think it will be addressed over the winter and everyone will be able to run the maximum width like the Ferrari has all year and who knows what they’ll do with the BMW?

“This was the fastest we’ve ever been here, and we’re eighth which is pretty disappointing.  I think that everyone at Corvette Racing has worked their socks off to get us there, and we’ve had all the testing we could possibly have.  We’ve tried to allocate the time as smartly as we could with the right package including the right choice of tire, but we’re ultimately not fast enough.

“I believe the ACO has got to look at that and decide what’s got to be re-balanced as, right now, we feel that we’re driving round with one arm tied behind our backs.

With 53 cars scheduled to start the race, the track will be packed and the racing frantic. “It’s going to be crowded,” Jan observed. “Up front there’s a vicious battle between the leading prototypes, and in our category there is a battle for second in the championship. There are many European teams that want to do well in the ILMC. It’s going to be wild.”

With thanks to Corvette Racing for qualifying reporting.


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