In the 15-minute qualifying session this afternoon at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, Oliver set the fourth quickest lap of the session in his No.4 Corvette C6.R and was due to line up behind the pole-winning Risi Ferrari and two Porsches. However, the Core Autosport Porsche which was due to start on the front row failed its post-session tech inspection and Olly and his team mate Tommy Milner will now start tomorrow’s four-hour race, round three of the 2013 American Le Mans Series, in third place.
Olly’s best time of 1:22.924 was only two hundredths of a second behind the Falken Porsche – a measure of just how close the ALMS GT category remains. With Milner, the British driver won the GT class in last year’s event at Laguna Seca, finishing 3.45 seconds ahead of the No. 3 Corvette C6.R, driven by Antonio Garcia and Jan Magnussen.
“Where we are right now with the car with the weight we have got on and everything else, I think we are pretty much maxed-out,” said Olly. “For a four race it’s a pretty decent spot and we know that plenty can happen. Last year we proved that we could win races from wherever you are on the grid – fourth, fifth, seventh, no matter where – and we didn’t have to be on pole.
“I was quite surprised to see the cars in front of us – not necessarily the Risi Ferrari as we know that’s fast – but Core Autosport has come out quickly with their brand new Porsche and the Falken car has worked extremely well on the slower speed circuits where it’s not quite so warm. Porsches have traditionally been good here.
“The temperature hasn’t been so great for us but we’re pretty happy with our balance and the race is long so strategy will be important. We know there’s still plenty of potential for a good result. It’s difficult to see or know what the temperature is going to be tomorrow as the marine layer keeps coming over and the sun keeps going in and out;, temperatures are yo-yoing up and down. Just trying to get the right tire choice and pressures right is going to be tricky, but someone is really going to hit it right tomorrow and end up winning.
“We’ve had a pretty good direction on set up from last year and we haven’t had to chase it wildly but we’ve been adjusting the car throughout every session. With the changing temperatures, it’s a bit of a moving target here. In qualifying all the GT cars have generally good drivers and you didn’t have a load of people dropping wheels off and dragging sand onto the track, taking weird lines. Everyone was pretty disciplined and good so that was satisfying and pleasing. We’re really looking forward to tomorrow.”