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Corvettes Qualify Second and Third at Lime Rock

by Keith Cornett on July 1, 2006

Crew chief Dan Binks’ final instructions to driver Ron Fellows before the start of qualifying were succinct: “Have fun out there.” When Fellows returned to the Corvette Racing pits after taking the second spot on the GT1 grid for Saturday’s New England Grand Prix, his report was equally brief. “Guys, that was fun!” he radioed to the crew of the No. 63 Compuware Corvette C6.R. “The car was great.” Fellows’ lap of the 1.54-mile Lime Rock Park road course in 50.491 seconds fell just .219 seconds short of Darren Turner’s pole-winning time in the No. 007 Aston Martin DBR9. Olivier Beretta ran the third quickest qualifying lap at 50.873 seconds in the No. 4 Compuware Corvette C6.R. Pedro Lamy was fourth fastest at 50.905 in the No. 009 Aston Martin DBR9, joining the qualifying session late after an off-course excursion into a bog left by the torrential rain that has inundated New England. “I had a good, fun lap,” Fellows reported. “The car has been working very well since we rolled it onto the track for the first lap of practice. I don’t know if I could have gone quicker, but I sure would have liked another lap and taken a crack at it. “It’s amazing how fast this Corvette is here,” he added. “I still hold the track record in Trans Am from back in 1995, and it’s a 50.2 . . . and that’s without a chicane. Here we are going almost that fast with the chicane!”As a result of performance adjustments imposed by the sanctioning body last week, the Corvettes are now 199 pounds heavier than their Aston Martin rivals and have a 10-liter smaller fuel capacity. “I was quite pleased that Corvettes’ qualifying times pretty well matched the times from last year because the cars are in a significantly different configuration,” said Corvette Racing program manager Doug Fehan. “That’s a testament to the hard work that the Corvette Racing team has done. If anything surprised me, it was that the Astons weren’t a bit quicker with the advantage that they now have. “Lime Rock is a great circuit on which to race – it’s bumpy, it’s fast, and there are some very challenging corners,” Fehan noted. “You can’t make a pit stop in the time it takes to complete a lap, so anything can happen on race day.” Fresh from a GT1 class victory in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Olivier Beretta was still making the adjustment from the longest track on the schedule to the shortest. Beretta and his teammate Oliver Gavin will be racing for their ninth straight ALMS victory on Saturday. “This feels like a go-kart track after driving on a super track like Le Mans,” said Beretta. “Ron did a very good lap time, so congratulations to him. The important thing was not to damage the car, and that is the target for the race. Now we have to see what happens in the race, and I’m feeling confident.” The New England Grand Prix, the fourth round of the 10-race 2006 American Le Mans Series, will start at 3 p.m. EDT on Saturday, July 1. The race will be televised tape-delayed by CBS Sports on Sunday, July 2, at 4 p.m. EDT.
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