Qualifying in the GT class was as tight and unpredictable as ever for the fourth round of North America’s leading sportscar and GT racing series, and a red flag half way through ensured it was as exciting as possible. Oliver claimed third place on the grid but he set the second fastest time in the class with a fast lap of 51.299. This was, however, exactly the same time as that set by Marco Holzer in the No.44 Flying Lizard Porsche and as the German had set the time earlier than Olly, he will start from the front row.
The heat was on at Lime Rock Park with the air temperature at 93 degrees and the track temperature at 123 degrees when the session began. The Corvettes elected to wait in the pit lane for several minutes before they ventured into the fray. Unfortunately Gavin and Magnussen both encountered traffic before a red flag for debris in Turn 5 halted their runs after three flying laps. When qualifying resumed seven minutes later, there was just enough time remaining on the clock for two laps. Both Corvettes ran their quickest times on their seventh and final hot laps.
“Before the start of qualifying, Tommy and I agreed that if we could be in the top two rows, that would be great, and we accomplished that,” Olly said. “The setup we had in qualifying was good and that enabled me to get that time. Qualifying position is important here, and hopefully our spot will keep us ahead of the chaos that can happen. It’s going to be a very hot and a very long day tomorrow.
“In the first segment, a Porsche in front of me was going off the road on every exit, bringing dust onto the road and under my tires,” he continued. “Then in the next corner I’d turn in and lose the rear of the car – I had a huge moment in Turn 7 and for a moment I thought it was going to be really bad. Fortunately I gathered it up, and then the red flag came out. Then it was a two-lap sprint to see what we could do. Fortunately the Corvette pits are at the end of the pit lane. I got out quickly and was free and clear, so I went for it!”
This year’s American Le Mans Northeast Grand Prix at Lime Rock Park in Connecticut on Saturday, 7th July will see 30 entries on the grid with 11 in the GT category and Olly and his team mate Tommy Milner, driving the No.4 Corvette C6.R, will be one of the hot favourites for GT success. The duo are looking to continue where they left off after a great start to the 2012 season with GT victories at Long Beach and Laguna Seca and a podium finish at the Sebring Twelve Hours.
With thanks to Corvette Racing for qualifying info and quotes.