“Everyone will struggle and it will be really interesting!!” Olly’s comment after qualifying today at the Paul Ricard HTTT circuit in the south of France succinctly sums up the issues that may well be facing almost the entire FIA GT1 World Championship field in this afternoon’s one-hour Qualifying Race.
Racing with Finn Pertti Kuismanen in the Mad Croc Racing Corvette C6.R, Olly had precious few laps in the car before the qualifying session, but it was enough to know that the hot and dry conditions which are being enjoyed at Le Castellet were potentially going to have an adverse affect on tyre wear. Temperatures have consistently been between 29-31o Centigrade (85-90o F).
“The biggest problem we’ve had here,” says Olly, “is the heat and the face that tyre wear on the rear in particular is very high. You have to have in mind that these tyres are only going to be at their optimum for 25 minutes at the most before there’s a substantial drop off in performance. In a 35-minute stint, those last five laps or so are going to be critical.
“With tyre preservation in mind, we set out to do just two timed laps in qualifying but unfortunately it all went a bit wrong. I got a bit caught out on my first lap and was a little too tentative and was just starting onto my second flying lap when a red flag came out. I returned to the pits and then had to frustratingly watch everyone go faster and faster.
“We’ve ended up starting 20th but it will be really interesting to see how our tyres – with their minimum wear – hold up compared to some of our competitors who did 7 or 8 hot laps in qualifying.”
All the latest action can be followed online at www.gt1world.com including live streaming of the two 60-minute races from the Paul Ricard HTTT track in the south of France. The first of the two one-hour races, the qualifying race, takes place at 5:30pm (CET) on Saturday. The Championship race takes place on Sunday, 4th July at 2:15 pm.