Gavin Grabs Third on Final Lap as Traffic and Red Flag Complicate Qualifying at Lime Rock Park
Update: The #44 Porsche that qualified 2nd failed the ride height check at tech inspection. Corvette Racing improves its positions to 2nd and 5th.
LAKEVILLE, Conn., July 6, 2012 – Corvette Racing’s twin Compuware Corvette C6.R race cars qualified third and sixth in the GT class for Saturday’s American Le Mans Northeast Grand Prix at Lime Rock Park. Traffic played a key role in qualifying on the tight 1.5-mile circuit, and after a red flag interrupted the 15-minute session, it came down to a two-lap shootout to determine the GT grid.
Oliver Gavin qualified the No. 4 Corvette C6.R third in the 11-car GT field with a 51.299-second time (103.441 mph) on his final hot lap. The Englishman equaled the time of Marco Holzer in the No. 44 Porsche, but Holzer was awarded the second spot on a tiebreaker. Jan Magnussen posted a 51.505-second time (103.027 mph) to place the No. 3 Corvette C6.R sixth on the GT grid. Bill Auberlen claimed the GT pole with a time of 50.920 seconds (104.211 mph) in the No. 55 BMW.
The heat was on at Lime Rock Park with the air temperature at 93 degrees and the track temperature at 123 degrees when the session began. The Corvettes elected to wait in the pit lane for several minutes before they ventured into the fray. Unfortunately Gavin and Magnussen both encountered traffic before a red flag for debris in Turn 5 halted their runs after three flying laps. When qualifying resumed seven minutes later, there was just enough time remaining on the clock for two laps. Both Corvettes ran their quickest times on their seventh and final hot laps.
“Before the start of qualifying, Tommy and I agreed that if we could be in the top two rows, that would be great, and we accomplished that,” Gavin said. “The setup we had in qualifying was good and that enabled me to get that time. Qualifying position is important here, and hopefully our spot will keep us ahead of the chaos that can happen. It’s going to be a very hot and a very long day tomorrow.
“In the first segment, a Porsche in front of me was going off the road on every exit, bringing dust onto the road and under my tires,” Gavin reported. “Then in the next corner I’d turn in and lose the rear of the car – I had a huge moment in Turn 7 and for a moment I thought it was going to be really bad. Fortunately I gathered it up, and then the red flag came out. Then it was a two-lap sprint to see what we could do. Fortunately the Corvette pits are at the end of the pit lane. I got out quickly and was free and clear, so I went for it!”
Magnussen also was stymied in his initial qualifying run. “When I went out a couple of minutes into the session, I ended up right in the middle of traffic,” he said. “I tried to find a gap, somebody spun off, and then came back on track right in front of me. I had just made a gap and then the red flag, so I really only got one attempt. I’m quite happy with the car, but the situation didn’t allow us to get the best out of it.”
Magnussen will make his milestone 100th career start in ALMS competition tomorrow. “Yes, it will be a special race, but it pays the same points as any other,” the Dane declared. “The 100th, the 101st, the 102nd – I want to win them all!”
The two-hour, 45-minute American Le Mans Northeast Grand Prix will start at 3 p.m. ET on Saturday, July 7, and will be broadcast on ESPN2 at 4 p.m. ET. Live coverage is available starting at 2:45 p.m. ET on ESPN3.
American Le Mans Northeast Grand Prix GT Qualifying (Top 10)
- 55 Mueller/Auberlen, BMW E92 M3, 50.920
- 44 Neiman/Holzer, Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, 51.299
- 4 Gavin/Milner, Corvette C6.R, 51.299
- 56 Mueller/Hand, BMW E92 M3, 51.334
- 45 Bergmeister/Long, Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, 51.483
- 3 Magnussen/Garcia, Corvette C6.R, 51.505
- 01 Sharp/van Overbeek, Ferrari 458 Italia, 51.525
- 17 Henzler/Sellers, Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, 51.957
- 48 Miller/Maassen, Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, 52.259
- 23 Sweedler/Bell, Lotus Evora, 52.458
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