The Corvette C6.Rs will be starting third and fifth this evening at the American Le Mans at Long Beach street race. Johnny O’Connell and the #3 C6.R put in the third fastest lap in the GT class with a time of 1:20.308 lap (88.220 mph) around the 1.986-mile, 11-turn street circuit. Olivier Beretta was fifth at 1:20.438 (88.078 mph) in the #4 Corvette C6.R.
Jaime Melo captured the GT pole with the quickest lap in the 20-minute session at 1:19.581 in Risi Competizione’s Ferrari 430 GT. Four different manufacturers – Ferrari, Porsche, Chevrolet, and BMW – are represented in the top six qualifying spots.
“It’s so hard to find that perfect lap around Long Beach,” O’Connell said. “The car rolled off the trailer so good, and that’s a testament to the strength of Corvette Racing’s engineering staff. I think we might have tried a different tire compound for qualifying, but hindsight is always 20-20. The track had more rubber on it than when we practiced this morning, but the track temperature was up as well.”
O’Connell turned his quickest time on his fourth lap, while Beretta recorded his best time on his third circuit.
“I had a clear track for the first three laps, then caught some traffic,” Beretta said. “That doesn’t help the tires to perform at their best because you’d like to keep the temperature up. Except for the Ferrari, qualifying was very close, and I think it will be a very close race as well.
“It was a good performance for Corvette Racing because this is the first time we’ve run the GT Corvettes on a street course,” Beretta noted. “We didn’t have a lot of time on the track at this event, so we will have to see what happens in the race tomorrow.”
The pole-winning Ferrari enjoyed a .598-second advantage over the second quickest car. The next seven cars qualified within .408 seconds.
“We know the Ferrari is fast, and they showed that,” said Corvette Racing program manager Doug Fehan. “They had a significant advantage, but you can throw a blanket over the rest of the field.
“We’ve had some varying temperatures here, and we selected the tires that we thought would be good before the start of qualifying,” Fehan reported. “We use qualifying as a test session as well, and that’s valuable information for the race. This is the first time we’ve been on a street course with the new engine package and the new GT chassis, and I think the combination has performed well. Corvette Racing will be in the battle.”
The American Le Mans Series at Long Beach will start at 4:40 p.m. PT on Saturday, April 17. The one-hour, 40-minute race will be televised same-day on SPEED at 8 – 10 p.m. ET.
American Le Mans Series at Long Beach GT Qualifying:
1. Melo/Bruni, Ferrari 430 GT, 1:19.581
2. Sellers/Henzler, Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, 1:20.179
3. O’Connell/Magnussen, Chevrolet Corvette C6.R, 1:20.308
4. Bergmeister/Long, Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, 1:20.424
5. Gavin/Beretta, Chevrolet Corvette C6.R, 1:20.438
6. Auberlen/Milner, BMW E92 M3, 1:20.486
7. Mueller/Hand, BMW E92 M3, 1:20.564
8. Brown/Cosmo, Ferrari 430 GT, 1:20.587
9. Sharp/van Overbeek, Ferrari 430 GT, 1:21.346
10. Law/Neiman, Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, 1:21.457
11. Robertson/Murry, Ford GT, 1:21.960
12. Gentilozzi/Dalziel, Jaguar XKRS, 1:22.985
Bondurant School of High Performance Driving