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10-05-2007: O'Connell and Corvette Claim GT1 Pole at Petit Le Mans
Source: Corvette Racing

Gavin Second as Corvettes Qualify 1-2 at Road Atlanta

BRASELTON, GA - Morning rain turned into a steamy afternoon as qualifying began at Road Atlanta for Saturday's Petit Le Mans 10-hour/1,000-mile endurance race. Corvette Racing's twin Compuware Corvette C6.R race cars had difficulty getting a grip on the freshly scrubbed surface as Johnny O'Connell and Oliver Gavin qualified second and third respectively in the GT1 class. The Maserati MC 12 of Andrea Bertolini ran the quickest qualifying lap, marking the first time since the 2006 ALMS season finale in Monterey, Calif., that a Corvette won't start on the GT1 pole in ALMS competition.

The scheduled 25-minute qualifying session was red-flagged just as the GT cars completed their first flying laps to retrieve a car from a gravel trap. When qualifying resumed at 8:25 into the session, the two Corvette drivers swapped positions on the qualifying rundown. O'Connell ended up second in GT1 at 1:18.415 (116.610 mph) and Gavin third at 1:18.602 (116.333 mph). The Maserati MC 12 ran 1:17.428 (118.097 mph) to capture the GT1 class pole.

"The track really changed since yesterday," O'Connell noted. "There was very little grip and both Oliver and I struggled. He might have caught traffic that cost him a little time, but both cars were very even. That leaves us in a quandary about the setup because we're not even close to where we'd expect to be on sticker tires.

"The Maserati was able to back up its times, so they've got their car working well for these conditions," O'Connell conceded. "We've got to sit down with our engineers and decide whether to change the setup or leave it alone and hope the track rubbers up tomorrow."

"The rain really affected the setup of the car, and it seemed that we were struggling to generate grip," Gavin reported. "We have to go back and analyze whether it was the tires or the chassis. The conditions were very difficult, and bundle that with traffic and red flags and it ended up being a frustrating session."

"The thing about this event is that qualifying has no effect on the outcome of a 10-hour race," Gavin continued. "We'll be racing hard and within the first half-hour everyone will have forgotten about qualifying. We're confident in how our Corvette C6.R will perform. It may take a stint or two for us to get the car exactly where we want it, but we know where we're going."

The 10th running of Petit Le Mans, the 11th round of the 12-race ALMS series, will start at 11:15 a.m. ET on Saturday, October 6. The 1,000-mile/10-hour race will be televised live on SPEED Channel from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and from 6:30 to 10 p.m. ET.

Petit Le Mans GT1 Qualifying:
  1. Theys/Lienhard/Bertolini, Maserati MC 12, 1:17.428/118.097 mph
  2. O'Connell/Magnussen/Fellows, Chevrolet Corvette C6.R, 1:18.415/ 116.610 mph
  3. Gavin/Beretta/Papis, Chevrolet Corvette C6.R, 1:18.602/ 116.333 mph