In a typically tense qualifying session today, in preparation for tomorrow’s six hour race at Laguna Seca in California, Olly placed his Compuware Corvette C6.R in third place on the grid in the hotly contested GT class for Saturday’s six-hour American Le Mans Series Monterey. The Northamptonshire man posted his quickest time on his fourth flying lap, stopping the clock at 1:23.101 (96.952 mph) in the No. 4 Corvette C6.R just ahead of team mate Jan Magnussen in the sister car who responded with a 1:23.201 (96.835 mph) on his fifth and final flyer. Jaime Melo put Risi Competizione’s Ferrari 430 GT on the pole at 122.752 (97.361 mph).
“I was just chipping away at the time on every lap,” said Olly. “I was hoping to find that last little bit so we could challenge the Ferraris on the front row. We’ve had to work really hard over the last couple of days to get the car right as it was pretty nasty with a lot of oversteer and not very nice to drive, but our engineer, Chuck Houghton, and the crew have been working really hard over the last two days to give the car a good balance.
“We’ve got the setup a lot, lot closer, but we still need to find a little bit more and make it less nervous on the rear. That’s the difference between where we are now and being on pole. I feel confident that the adjustments we’ll make tonight are going to help us and we’ll be strong for six hours tomorrow.
“This circuit is so difficult from lap to lap and from corner to corner as so much sand is blown or brought onto the track that you turn up at a corner and are not really sure what the grip level is going to be like.
“I’m happy-ish. I would have liked to get a bit closer to Jaime but he obviously did a fantastic lap. Second row is still pretty good and so much can happen tomorrow. For a six hour race, qualifying doesn’t mean that much.”
Both Corvettes improved their lap times significantly from the earlier practice sessions on the 2.238-mile, 11-turn road course on the central California coastline.
“As a warmup for Le Mans, this will be a good test,” Gavin said. “We’re also mindful that these cars are going to Le Mans in just a few days – I think the crew reminds us of that hourly! I’m hoping more than anything that Olivier and I can get a decent result. We’ve had some rough luck in the first two races, and we need to score points tomorrow if we hope to challenge for the championship.”
The American Le Mans Series Monterey will start at 2:30 p.m. PT on Saturday, May 22, and will be televised by CBS Sports tape-delayed on Saturday, May 29 at 1:30 p.m. ET. The six-hour race will be streamed live online at americanlemans.com starting at 5:30 p.m. ET. Live radio coverage will be available on American Le Mans Radio, Sirius Channel 127, and XM Channel 242.