“If you’d asked me before the start of the qualifying sessions tonight (Thursday) what I thought would be our starting position, I’d have said I’d be happy with third on the grid; it’s a good place to start here. But now it’s all set, I can’t help being disappointed we didn’t get a decent chance to challenge for pole.” Those were Olly’s initial feelings and emotions after the end of the six available hours of qualifying for Saturday’s 24 Hour of Le Mans.
Taking part in his 12th consecutive 24 Hours of Le Mans for Corvette Racing, and having won the GT1 class four times, the British driver signalled his intentions for victory this weekend’s race by setting the fastest time in the GTE-Pro category and securing provisional pole position on the first day of track action (Wednesday). In the first of three two-hour qualifying sessions, he set his best lap time of 3:55.910, but this was bettered on the second day by both the GTE Pro class pole-winning Luxury Ferrari 458 and Olly’s long-time friend and rival Darren Turner in the Aston Martin. The opportunities to counter their charge never presented themselves, despite there being dry conditions throughout.
“Track conditions were different tonight and that seemed to affect us more than the others,” he said. “I just couldn’t generate the same cornering force that I could yesterday, and couldn’t attack the corners like I did yesterday. It was very close with the Aston Martin getting ahead of us by only a few hundredths of a second on an 8.5-mile circuit. So we’ll go with what we’ve got. I
“It just didn’t all string together for us today as it did yesterday which is a bit frustrating but fundamentally we have a good race car and both Tommy and Richard were very happy with the feel and balance of it so that’s the main thing. Ultimately, come Saturday afternoon, qualifying will be forgotten and we’ll be fully focused on what we have which is starting from a pretty good position. The Corvette feels comfortable and nice and consistent to drive, which is what you want for a 24 hour race.”
The cars are back on track Saturday morning for warm up, and the drivers meanwhile will be on parade in the city centre this evening. The race begins at 3pm on Saturday 16th and can be followed on www.radiolemans.com or on www.lemans.org which has a webtv service as well as live text.