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08-31-2007: Magnussen Motors to GT1 Pole in Detroit ALMS
Source: Corvette Racing

Corvette Racing Sweeps Semifinal Round of Pit Crew Challenge

DETROIT, MI - The roar of Chevy thunder returned to Motor City today as Corvette Racing's twin Compuware Corvette C6.Rs rocked the revamped Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix street circuit. Qualifying on the 2.0-mile temporary course that winds through Belle Isle Park, Jan Magnussen won the GT1 pole for Saturday's Detroit Sports Car Challenge, the 10th round of the 12-race American Le Mans Series. The Danish driver turned a fast lap at 1:21.057 (91.935 mph) in the No. 3 Compuware Corvette C6.R to edge Olivier Beretta by .332 seconds in the No. 4 Compuware Corvette C6.R.

The 20-minute qualifying session was interrupted by a red flag to retrieve a GT2 car that had stopped on the course after the two Corvettes had completed their first flying laps. The green flag flew with 12 minutes and 38 seconds remaining, and both Corvettes were back on the attack. Magnussen then ran his fast time on his third timed lap; Beretta put a 1:21.389 on the board on his second circuit, but couldn't better his time in three more attempts.

"When we got going again after the red flag, I felt that the Michelin tires had great grip, and I saw the lap time dropping on my dashboard," said Magnussen after capturing his fifth career ALMS pole and third of the season for Corvette Racing. "Then to do another one that was even better, I was so happy. That was a big lap, I can tell you that. If I had to do it again, I'd do it exactly the same way."

"We knew that we were only going to have 20 minutes, even if the session was red-flagged, so we had to go out and get a good lap quickly," the Dane explained. "I went a little too slow on my out lap; I didn't want to catch GT2 traffic, so I was trying to let Olivier get a big gap while holding back the GT2 cars behind me. I didn't get enough heat in the tires for a fast first lap, and when Olivier ran a 1:21.7 on his first lap, I knew it was going to be tough."

Beretta was quicker initially, but the series' all-time leader in poles couldn't add to his record today.

"I tried my best, and Jan did a better lap, so congratulations to the No. 3 Corvette," said Beretta. "When you run a good first lap and feel confident, and then the red flag comes out, it doesn't help. But that's not an excuse, it was the same for everyone.

"I had a little too much power understeer that didn't allow me to push hard," he explained. "The track has more grip than when we practiced this morning, but the improvement in lap times is more from the improvements the crew made in the Corvette C6.R. The most important thing is that we didn't crash and both cars are on four wheels for tomorrow's race."

Earlier today Corvette Racing finished first and second in the semifinal round of the Klein Tools Pit Crew Challenge. Crew chief Ray Gongla, mechanics Rich Eldred, Dave Marin, Neal Everhart, Ross Jeffrey, and Jim Durbin, and drivers Gavin and Beretta claimed the $10,000 prize. They completed a simulated refueling, driver change, and four-tire change in 44.12 seconds, edging the Dan Binks-led No. 3 Corvette C6.R crew by .17 seconds. The two Corvette Racing crews will face the Dyson Racing Nos. 16 and 20 for the $20,000 championship prize in the season finale at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.

"We are constantly practicing on our pit stops, working on our strategy, and always looking for a way to make them faster," said Gongla. "One day it's going to come down to a pit stop in a race situation when you really need that tenth of a second. Even when we're racing our sister car, we compete on every pit stop, and sometimes that determines who wins the race. Every second counts in the pits, and we work on finding an edge every day."

"The Corvette Racing crews are unbelievable," added Binks, who led his team to the Pit Crew Challenge title in 2005. "Both stops were within a two tenths of a second. We had a little trouble on the front tire, but a one-two finish is what we were hoping for. Going to the final round again is great. If we can take first and second there, it doesn't matter which crew wins as long as it's a victory for Corvette Racing. That's what we work for, and I can't wait."

The Detroit Sports Car Challenge presented by Bosch, the 10th round of the 12-race ALMS series, will start at 3:15 p.m. EDT on Saturday, Sept. 1. The two-hour, 45-minute race will be televised same-day tape-delayed on SPEED Channel at 9:30 p.m. EDT.