Corvette Racing didn’t let heavy rains and an unfamiliar track deter its efforts in qualifying Friday for the inaugural American Le Mans Series race at Circuit of The Americas. The two Compuware Chevrolet Corvette C6.Rs earned the second- and third-place starting spots in the GT field for Saturday’s two-hour, 45-minute race.
Antonio Garcia in the No. 3 Compuware Corvette qualified on the outside of the GT front row with a lap of 2:17.442 (89.056 mph) around the 3.4-mile, 20-turn layout. The Spaniard, who drives with Jan Magnussen, set his best time on his final lap to overtake teammate Oliver Gavin for the second spot.
Gavin posted a best lap of 2:17.594 (88.957 mph) in the No. 4 Corvette. The Englishman and teammate Tommy Milner come to Circuit of the Americas with a two-point lead in the GT drivers’ standings as they try to repeat as class champions. Garcia and Magnussen are second in the championship and sit just two points back.
In the manufacturer standings, Chevrolet leads BMW by 20 points. Corvette Racing also heads the team championship with three rounds left in the season.
Friday’s qualifying effort saw a remarkable turnaround for the two Corvettes. After placing fourth and seventh in the day’s first practice and fifth and eighth in the second session, team and Michelin tire engineers developed a sound strategy for time trials. The results spoke for themselves. Only Joey Hand qualified faster at 2:17.178 (89.227 mph).
Olly commented afterwards: “This is a big fill-up for us. It’s been a difficult couple of sessions and we didn’t look so good in the rain early on. But we worked away at a plan. Chuck (Houghton) and the guys from Michelin worked hard together as well with the No. 3 car and us to put a plan together of how we were going to run the session. We knew that we had to do the times early to make it work, and it did. So we’re pleased to be second and third. My strategy after the first timed lap maybe wasn’t as aggressive as Antonio’s in terms of what he did to get the performance back for his final timed lap, but he did a fantastic job to get to that time. This is a very solid place for us to start the race tomorrow.”
(On the race outlook) “I think it will be dry and we will just have to see. It’s a little bit of an unknown for all of us being here for the first time – seeing what tire life is like, how cars hang up in the heat and how the race evolves. The track will be washed off today and should rubber up for our race. Balance of the cars may change throughout and how cars react to certain things. Things like tire pressures and different compounds… It will be very busy on top of the timing stand to make sure we’re on top of all that.”
With thanks to Corvette Racing