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Corvettes Qualify 3rd and 4th for Sebring 12-Hour

Source: GM Media
Photos: www.racing-photos.com
March 16, 2006

Gavin and Fellows Take Third and Fourth Spots in GT1 Qualifying for Season-Opening ALMS Endurance Race

SEBRING, Fla. - Corvette Racing's new Corvette C6.Rs qualified third and fourth in the GT1 class for Saturday's Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, the season-opening round of the 10-race American Le Mans Series. Reigning GT1 co-champion Oliver Gavin turned the third quickest time in the No. 4 Compuware Corvette at 1:56.770 (114.070 mph) and three-time Sebring winner Ron Fellows was fourth fastest at 1:57.854 (113.021 mph) in the No. 3 Compuware Corvette.

The 20-minute qualifying session was interrupted by a red flag that limited the Corvettes to three flying laps. The GT1 pole went to the Aston Martin DBR9 of Pedro Lamy with a 1:55.286 lap time that surpassed the 1:57.052 track record set by Fellows in 2004.

"It's unfortunate that qualifying was cut short because we had three more hot laps that we were going to put on the tires before the start of the race," said Corvette Racing program manager Doug Fehan. "The red flag came out just at the wrong time, as it often seems to do in racing."

Recent performance adjustments in weight and restrictor sizes announced by series officials have affected the relative performances of the Corvettes and their competitors. The C6.Rs now weigh 121 pounds more than their rivals and have smaller intake restrictors.

"Last year we qualified on the pole and we didn't do that this year - no excuses," Fehan commented. "The lap times have been close throughout the practice and qualifying sessions. I give the sanctioning body high marks for being able to balance the performance differential between the Corvette and the Aston Martin."

Gavin perceived the impact of the performance adjustments on his qualifying run.

"We ran as hard as we could and that was the best we could produce," said the Briton, who qualified his yellow Corvette C6.R 14th overall. "The lap times were coming down and perhaps we could have run a bit quicker had the red flag not come out. It's just one of those things."

Traffic was a factor for Fellows: "I caught traffic four times in two laps, and then the red flag came out," the Canadian reported. "We just didn't get an opportunity to get a good one. The track did seem slippery, and that's something we'll have to address in the race to make sure that we have enough grip."

With warm temperatures and sunny skies in the forecast, the season-opening race promises to be another classic contest.

"Sebring is an unusual place because it changes from hour to hour," Fehan noted. "We know that when it gets hot, it's going to get slippery, and there will be a lot of cars on the track. That's why Corvette Racing focuses very hard on developing a setup that will perform well in a wide variety of conditions. We've spent the majority of our track time this week working on that."

The Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, the first round of the 10-race 2006 American Le Mans Series, is scheduled to start at 10:30 a.m. EST on Saturday, March 18 at Sebring International Raceway in Sebring, Fla. The race will be televised live on SPEED Channel from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., from 2:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., and from 7:30 p.m. to 11 p.m.