Split Strategy Boosts Magnussen to Front Row, Milner Makes Strong Run in First Qualifying Run with Corvette
LONG BEACH, Calif., April 15, 2011 – Corvette Racing driver Jan Magnussen finished second in last year’s American Le Mans Series race on the Long Beach street circuit, and that is where he will start Saturday’s two-hour race on the bayside circuit. Magnussen posted the second quickest time in the GT class at 1:19.137 (89.526 mph) in the No. 4 Compuware Corvette C6.R, just .047 seconds behind the pole-winning BMW of Joey Hand. Tommy Milner qualified the No. 3 Compuware Corvette C6.R ninth in the 14-car GT field at 1:20.724 (87.766 mph).
Corvette Racing rebounded from a troubled practice this morning that saw the No. 4 Corvette lose nearly half of the two-hour session to a drivetrain problem and the No. 3 Corvette have a close encounter with the tire barrier in Turn 8. With minimal track time, the Corvettes went into qualifying on a split strategy.
The decision to use different tire compounds as the track cooled in the late afternoon was a key element in Magnussen’s run to the front. The Dane dueled for the pole with his BMW rival as the drivers traded fastest times over a series of laps on the 1.968-mile, 11-turn temporary course. Magnussen ultimately posted his quickest time on his fourth flying lap, and his time bettered the 1:19.581 qualifying record set last year.
“I get so much enjoyment from qualifying here at Long Beach, I absolutely love it,” Magnussen said. “It seemed we would go fast and they would go just a little bit faster. After the problems we encountered this morning, to have a car that’s good enough to be on the front row is fantastic.
“We split the strategy with the tires,” Magnussen explained. “Maybe one car will benefit early in the race and the other will be better later. With two strong cars we can try different approaches and hopefully by the end of the race we’ll know what works best for the final stint. I’m really looking forward to tomorrow. It’s a short race, but at Long Beach it’s always absolutely full attack.”
“It could have easily worked out that I was on the better tires for the conditions,” Milner said. “Corvette Racing is a team, and sometimes you have to split the strategies. I would have liked a better result in my first time qualifying the Corvette, but it was the right decision for the team and I’m all for it.
“There are a lot of different scenarios for tomorrow, so we’ll see how it plays out,” he noted. “Long Beach is tough, it’s hard to pass here, but I know our Corvette is better than a ninth place car. The fun part for me is that I’ll start the race and get to pass some cars. I’m confident we can move up.”
Qualifying took place during a transitional time on the track, as will the race tomorrow,” said Corvette Racing program manager Doug Fehan. “The temperature goes from hot to cold in a hurry, so we weren’t sure how the cars would react. The engineers and drivers looked at the data we got this morning, compared it with the information from last year, and together they made a great choice on chassis setup.”
The two-hour American Le Mans Series at Long Beach will be shown live on ESPN3.com starting at 7:15 p.m. ET/4:15 p.m. local time on Saturday, April 16. ESPN2 will provide television coverage from 5 to 7 p.m. ET on Sunday, April 17.
American Le Mans Series at Long Beach GT Qualifying (Top 10):
- Mueller/Hand, BMW M3 GT, 1:19.090
- Gavin/Magnussen, Corvette C6.R, 1:19.137
- Auberlen/Werner, BMW M3 GT, 1:19.447
- Bergmeister/Long, Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, 1:19.463
- Henzler/Sellers, Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, 1:20.065
- Sharp/van Overbeek, Ferrari F458 Italia, 1:20.167
- Brown/Cosmo, Ferrari F458 Italia, 1:20.176
- Miller/Maasen, Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, 1:20.646
- Beretta/Milner, Corvette C6.R, 1:20.724
- Junqueira/Da Matta, Jaguar RSR, 1:20.924
Bondurant School of High Performance Driving