Heat was a big topic today at Lime Rock Park, the scene of practice and qualifying sessions in preparation for tomorrow’s North East Grand Prix, round 4 of the American Le Mans Series.
For Corvette Racing’s Oliver Gavin it was crucial as the team battled to repair a malfunctioning air conditioning system in the cockpit of his No.4 Corvette C6.R before this afternoon’s 15-minute qualifying session. With ambient temperatures of 94oF, cooling was a necessity for optimum performance rather than a luxury.
As always, the Corvette Racing crew came through and Olly was able to tackle qualifying with a cool head. His fastest lap of 51.490 seconds around the 1.47 mile track in Lakeville, Connecticut, puts him third on the GT grid, half a second behind the pole-sitting BMW of John Edwards.
Olly felt that he had got the best out of the car today and that the team had prepared a good race car, but was nevertheless a bit frustrated with not being able to challenge for pole position.
“We found a bit more speed from the practices, and you always push harder in qualifying. I managed to stick a reasonable lap together, and we made a few adjustments with the car that helped us find a little bit more.
“It’s always a delicate balance here. There is not a huge amount of grip and you’re all the time seesawing from the rear of the car being too loose to the front of the car being too pushy. You try to massage that balance between the two because one end is always breaking free. Very rarely will you get a car that’s really balanced which will let you attack every corner with no fear.
“We got pretty close today but really there seems to be two races going on: the BMW is in a class of its own and then there’s the rest of us. We know how much speed they can carry in medium and high speed corners at a downforce track, but half a second around this track is a huge amount when you look at how close everyone else it. There were signals earlier when, as everyone else slowed up because it was hotter, they could still do the same time. The alarm bells started ringing!
“I think it will come down to the last 20 minutes of the race as to who remains the coolest in the car and, now we’ve fixed ours, I think we’re in with a shot. Tommy will be starting tomorrow and then it will be me although we’re not sure how many pit stops we’ll have to do. It’s likely to be as warm again tomorrow…we’re getting ready for some hot action.”