In this afternoon’s 15-minute qualifying session, Corvette Racing’s 2012 GT Drivers’ Champion Oliver Gavin placed the No. 4 Corvette C6.R in fourth place among the super-competitive GT grid for Saturday’s season-ending Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta. Olly’s time of 1:19.065 around the 12-turn, 2.54-mile road course was just marginally quicker than team mate Antonio Garcia in the sister Corvette Racing entry, the .021 second difference putting the Spaniard in fifth place in GT. After wrapping up the championship at the last round in Virginia, Oliver and his team mate Tommy Milner are looking to finish the track in the best way possible by winning in Georgia. They are joined for this race, as at Sebring and Le Mans, by Richard Westbrook.
Guy Cosmo captured the GT pole in the No. 02 Ferrari with a track record qualifying time of 1:18.677 but his time was later disallowed due to a technical infringement. Toni Vilander in the No.02 Ferrari will start from pole and the two Corvettes will therefore start in third and fourth places. The top six GT qualifiers were separated by less than half a second.
“GT qualifying was very close, as always,” said Olly, who set his quickest time on his fifth flying lap. “Antonio helped me out massively; he was caught behind a Porsche and I was catching them both quickly. He moved over at just the right spot going into Turn 10, which meant that I got a clean run through to the front straight. Then when I felt my tyres were at their best, I caught traffic in the chicane, which killed my speed onto the straight for my next lap. Perhaps there was a tenth of a second in that, but we weren’t going to beat the Ferraris today.
“Everyone was backing themselves up trying to find space and then going for it again and I got caught up with that a little bit – Lietz, Bergmeister and Antonio – so when the tyre was really at its best we probably missed that but that’s the usual racing driver excuse isn’t it!?
“To be honest, I think it went a little better than we expected. We’ve been working away with a rear end grip problem the whole week and we thought we’d got on top of it at night practice last night and then this morning the car was quite a handful. We went back on some of those changes, Chuck worked away at it, and we got it back to where we wanted it to be. It’s now the best it’s been all week so I’m very happy with that.
“The final race of the year, qualifying fourth – we’ll take that,” the Englishman declared. “We’ve won from farther back on the grid this year. It’s a long race, and there will probably be plenty of action just in the first corner, so we’ll need to have our wits about us.”