Corvette Racing Qualifies Fourth and Sixth for 24 Hours of Le Mans
LE MANS, France, June 9, 2011 – At midnight in Le Mans, the field was set for the 59th running of the world's greatest sports car race. Corvette Racing will start fourth and sixth in the 18-strong GTE Pro field in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Back-to-back two-hour qualifying sessions tonight determined the final qualifying order, but the Corvette Racing crew concentrated on preparing for the upcoming 24-hour endurance test.
Both Compuware Corvette C6.Rs stood on their lap times set on Wednesday night. Jan Magnussen qualified the No. 74 Corvette C6.R fourth at 3:59.519, and Olivier Beretta turned the sixth quickest time at 3:59.633 in the No. 73 Corvette C6.R. The No. 55 BMW M3 GT claimed the GTE pole with a fast lap at 3:57.592.
"We didn't really make qualifying runs tonight, but focused instead on the race setups," said Corvette Racing team manager Gary Pratt. "The track was covered with oil in the final two-hour session, so there wasn't any reason to try to run quicker. We did a good job on Wednesday night, qualifying the cars fourth and sixth, and those are good starting positions. Now we want to have cars that can run well for 24 hours, so we'll concentrate on the final prep tomorrow and be ready to race on Saturday."
The No. 73 Corvette crew elected to install their race motor and new brakes during the one-hour break between sessions, while the No. 74 Corvette crew installed a fresh gearbox. The new parts were run in during the closing hours of qualifying. With no track activity scheduled on Friday, the team has a full day to complete their pre-race preparations.
“We sorted out some issues throughout both qualifying sessions today," Magnussen said. "At the beginning of the second session we wanted to go for a fast lap with a baseline race setup, but that didn’t work out. P4 and P6 on the grid for this race is good. It would have been great to start from pole, of course, but the race is a different story. We’re happy with where we are now as the car seems to come to us the longer we run.”
Magnussen's teammate Oliver Gavin agreed: "We made some progress and the car felt good at the end of the run, and that was on old tires," he reported. "It bodes well for the race that we can produce competitive lap times on used tires."
"We had some handling issues initially and worked on solving them," said Richard Westbrook, third driver in the No. 74 Corvette C6.R. "That's part and parcel of the buildup for Le Mans, getting these things out of the way."
Tommy Milner had the only incident of the evening when he kissed the tire barrier at Mulsanne Corner. The crew replaced the nose section on the No. 73 Corvette C6.R and soon had the car back on track.
"The crew did an awesome job, they got me back out again quickly and I was able to turn my fastest laps of the week," Milner said. "In the end we had a respectable lap time and we're moving in the right direction, which feels good. I wasn't able to string many laps together in the previous practice sessions, so getting a long run tonight helped me to settle in."
The 24 Hours of Le Mans will be run on June 11-12. The race will start Saturday at 3 p.m. local time (9 a.m. ET). SPEED will televise the race live, supplemented by live online video streaming at www.speedtv.com/corvette. Check local listings for broadcast times.
24 Hours of Le Mans GTE Pro Top 10 Qualifying Times:
1. 55 Farfus/Muller/Werner, BMW M3 GT, 3:57.592
2. 51 Fisichella/Bruni/Vilander, Ferrari F458 Italia, 3:58.040
3. 56 Priaulx/Muller/Hand, BMW M3 GT, 3:58.426
4. 74 Gavin/Magnussen/Westbrook, Corvette C6.R, 3:59.519
5. 89 Farnbacher/Simonsen/Keen, Ferrari F458 Italia, 3:59.519
6. 73 Beretta/Milner/Garcia, Corvette C6.R, 3:59.633
7. 77 Lieb/Lietz/Henzler, Porsche 997 GT3 RSR, 3:59.662
8. 59 Ortelli/Makowiecki/Melo, Ferrari F458 Italia, 3:59.901
9. 75 Goossens/Holzer/van Lagen, Porsche 997 GT3 RSR, 3:59.962
10. 79 Hancock/Dolan/Buncombe, Aston Martin Vantage, 4:00.747
Source: Corvette Racing