Corvettes Qualify 1-2 at Laguna Seca

Beretta Ties Fellows for All-Time ALMS Qualifying Record

MONTEREY, Calif. - The two factory Chevrolet Corvette C5-R race cars will start from the first and second positions in the GTS class for Saturday night's American Le Mans Series race at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. Olivier Beretta set the fastest lap with a time of 1:21.679 in the #4 Compuware Corvette C5-R; Johnny O'Connell qualified second with a lap of 1:22.238. Beretta's fast lap marks his 14th pole position of his career in the ALMS, tying Ron Fellows for the all-time record. The Corvettes have taken the pole position at every single ALMS event in 2004.

"The guys really had fun during qualifying today," said Doug Fehan, program manager for Corvette Racing. "Their first timed laps were three one-thousandths of one second apart. Both cars registered a significant improvement over previous years. This is another step forward for Corvette in our quest for the team's first ever victory at Laguna Seca."

A record of 34 victories in 54 events has put the Corvette C5-R into a class by itself, although the team has never won at the 2.2-mile Laguna Seca circuit. The 7-liter machines will look to close out the C5-R era with a win on Saturday. The win would constitute a sweep of the 2004 calendar after victories in every single ALMS event and the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

"I'm very happy to be on the pole position today," said Beretta. "In a way I am sad because this is the last time that the C5-R will qualify, and it has been a good car to us. I thank the team for their hard work in preparing the car and I look forward to the race on Sunday."

Johnny O'Connell qualified second after a tight battle with fellow Corvette driver Olivier Beretta.

"I'm pretty pleased because I got all I could out of the car during qualifying," said O'Connell. "We struggled a bit this morning but we've made some changes and now we're closer. We have a little bit more tuning to do and we'll be set for tomorrow.

"The tires have really changed how we approach this place. The track is bumpier and the conditions are not as good as years past, but the Michelins are doing a great job to maintain the consistency over the course of our stints."

The Corvette Racing team will begin the four-hour race at Laguna Seca on Saturday at 4:00 p.m. PDT.

Provisional Grid (GTS Class)
Pos. Car Drivers Best Time
1 #4 Chevrolet Corvette C5-R Gavin, Beretta 1:21.679
2 #3 Chevrolet Corvette C5-R Fellows, O'Connell 1:22.238
3 #63 Saleen S7R Borcheller, Mowlem 1:23.244
4 #71 Dodge Viper GTS-R Weickardt, Belloc 1:24.780