The Mid-Ohio Sports Car Challenge is one of the most technical and demanding events on the ALMS calendar and the Corvette Racing team was hoping to profit from data acquired at an additional test session at the road course near Lexington, Ohio prior to the race, the sixth round of the 2012 series.
In an official test yesterday and two one-hour practice sessions today, Corvette Racing’s C6.Rs performed well and were always close to the top of the time sheets. Amid searing heat and ever-changing track conditions at Mid-Ohio today, GT qualifying for Saturday’s Mid-Ohio Sports Car Challenge was, as always, hotly contested and it ended with Antonio Garcia taking fifth on the class grid in the No.3 Corvette, and Tommy Milner just one place behind in sixth in the No.4.
The eight fastest qualifiers all set quicker times than last year’s pole-winning time on the 2.25-mile, 13-turn Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, and Tommy’s time of 1:19.727 was only 0.429 seconds off Jörg Müller’s pole in the No.55 BMW.
As the ambient temperature topped 94 degrees and the track temperature climbed to 110 degrees, Tommy completed just six flying laps and posted his fastest time on the last of those. He said afterwards: “I’m not disappointed with sixth, but I’m not super stoked. We made some big changes in the car in the last practice session, working on the race setup. Then at the end we tried to help the car for qualifying.
“Every session we’re out there we learn a lot about this race track,” he noted. “It’s definitely a challenge when we have different series running and different rubber going down. This track especially can change from morning to afternoon and from day to day. When we go out for warm-up tomorrow morning, there will be a lot of IndyCar rubber on the track and we’ll see how the car feels.”
Olly backed up his team mate’s comments and added: “Grip levels are challenging and inconsistent from session to session. There are some grippy patches on the racing line which have been slowly getting worn away over the years, plus it’s so competitive that people are looking for tiny bits of time here and there and going off track. It’s been very dry and dusty so it only takes one wheel to drag on sand and dirt and the next time you approach a particular corner it’s not only different but also difficult compared to the previous lap.
“Right now after qualifying we’re a bit off compared to the BMW and Ferrari and we’ll have to see how it will all play out tomorrow. Tyre wear is going to be a big issue but at least the weather forecast is looking clear. Mind you, a storm might really shake things up!”
The two-hour, 45-minute Mid-Ohio Sports Car Challenge will start at will start at 1:05 pm ET on Saturday, 4th August and will be broadcast on ABC at 2 pm ET. Live streaming will be available on www.alms.com.