Gavin Posts Second-Quickest Time in Hotly Contested GT Class at ALMS Season-Opener
SEBRING, Fla., March 18, 2011 – On a glorious day in central Florida, Corvette Racing celebrated the rites of spring by qualifying second and ninth for Saturday’s Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring at Sebring International Raceway. Oliver Gavin posted the second quickest time in the GT class at 2:01.743 (109.411 mph) in the No. 04 Compuware Corvette C6.R. Olivier Beretta was ninth in the No. 03 Compuware Corvette C6.R at 2:02.633 (108.617 mph).
The top eight cars in the production-based GT category qualified within a second of the pole-winning time set by Gianmaria Bruni at 2:01.561 (109.575 mph) in a Ferrari 430 GT. With 85-degree air temperature and 96-degree track temperature, the qualifying times were slightly slower than last year’s 2:01.150 record on the historic 3.7-mile circuit that hosts the opening round of the 2011 American Le Mans Series.
“I’m pleased with second in such a competitive class, and very happy for the entire Corvette Racing team because everybody has worked so hard this week,” said Gavin, who missed the pole by a scant .182 seconds. “It would have been great to have taken the top spot to start off Chevrolet’s 100th anniversary, but we’ll wait for the race tomorrow to do that. I’m very proud to be part of the Chevy team.”
Gavin’s third timed lap was his quickest on the bumpy 17-turn course on the site of a World War II bomber base.
“The car is still yellow, and the only things that have changed are the number on the door and the color of my teammate’s helmet,” Beretta said with a laugh. “Johnny has been very cool, and we work well together. We’ve raced hard against each in the past, and now we are together in the same car. We like the same feel in the car, and the change has given me a new perspective.”
Magnussen has rejoined Gavin, his former endurance-racing co-driver. “We’re getting along great, and I’m getting comfortable in the car,” Magnussen said. “There is the usual stuff we have to sort out with the seat and practicing driver changes. So far so good.
“Everyone was spaced out nicely at the start of the session, and the tires were taking some time to come in,” he said. “By the time they were really hooking up, I caught a Ferrari on his cool-down lap and I had to pass him off the line. I then had to go through the sand that had been dragged onto Turn 10, got some understeer, and lost what probably would have been my best lap.”
Beretta posted his best time on his sixth and final lap at speed.
“I started well and the car was good,” Beretta reported. “Then after I caught some traffic, I slowed a little and never got back up to maximum speed.
“It’s a long race tomorrow, and it will be hot for sure,” Beretta noted. “We will try to stay out of trouble and get to the finish in the position that we want.”
Gavin agreed with his teammate’s prediction: “These are the warmest conditions we’ve seen this week, and we’ve got some solutions for that in the race, whether with the Michelin tires or the chassis setup,” said the Briton. “It’s very edgy out there, there’s a lot of sand on the track and a mix of different rubber from all the series that are running at Sebring. I think we’ll see a different situation tomorrow, and we’ll be able to fight with the best.”
Corvette Racing introduced two new Corvette C6.R race cars for this event, along with new paddle shifters, a new engine management system, updated aerodynamics, and other innovations.
“The week we had here was probably the most challenging week we’ve ever had at Sebring,” said Corvette Racing program manager Doug Fehan. “The team really answered the bell today, turning in the second quickest time and putting both cars in the top 10 in an intensely competitive class. When you see qualifying this close, that promises a great race. I’m very proud of the engineers, the crew, and the GM Powertrain engine group – they all pulled together as a team today.”
The season-opening Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring will start at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, March 19, and end 12 hours later at 10:30 p.m. The race will be shown live on ESPN3.com from 10:15 a.m. to 10:45 p.m. ET. ABC will provide coverage from 12:30 to 2 p.m. ET on Sunday, March 20.
Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring GT Qualifying (Top 10):
- Fisichella/Bruni/Kaffer, Ferrari F430 GT, 2:01.561
- Gavin/Magnussen/Westbrook, Corvette C6.R, 2:01.743
- Farfus/Auberlen/Werner, BMW M3 GT, 2:01.841
- Priaulx/Mueller/Hand, BMW M3 GT, 2:02.139
- Melo/Vilander/Salo, Ferrari F458 Italia, 2:02.290
- Bergmeister/Long/Leib, Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, 2:02.334
- Brown/Cosmo/Bell, Ferrari F458 Italia, 2:02.405
- Ortelli/Makowiecki/Deletraz, Farrari F458 Italia, 2:02.524
- Beretta/Garcia/Milner, Corvette C6.R, 2:02.633
- Sharp/van Overbeek/Farnbacher, Ferrari F458 Italia, 2:02.877
Bondurant School of High Performance Driving
Photo Credit: Richard Prince / GM Racing
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