Sebring

Corvette Shatters GTS Qualifying Record at Sebring

Oliver Gavin and Ron Fellows put Chevrolet on top for Saturday's race

SEBRING, Fla. The General Motors Chevrolet Corvette Racing team posted record-setting qualifying times on Thursday afternoon at Sebring International Raceway. Oliver Gavin, driving the #4 Compuware Corvette C5-R with Olivier Beretta and Jan Magnussen, shattered the previous GTS qualifying record that he set in 2003; Gavin's time of 1:56.858 beat last year's record by over two seconds. Ron Fellows, driving the #3 Compuware Corvette C5-R with Johnny O'Connell and Max Papis, was close behind with a lap of 1:57.052, besting the previous qualifying record by nearly two seconds. The two-car factory Chevrolet team is attempting to capture a third straight class victory at the legendary 12-hour endurance event.

"This is a testament to all the hard work we've done over the winter," said Doug Fehan, GM's program manager for Corvette Racing. "At Sebring, being the quickest gets you the pole position but that's all it gets you. This is a 12-hour race and we never lose sight of that. I'm very happy with the way qualifying went today and we're looking forward to a competitive race."

The two Corvettes started Thursday's 25-minute session by immediately posting the fastest times in the GTS class. Ron Fellows and Oliver Gavin traded laps before Gavin turned in his fastest time at the very end of the session.

"The crew did a great job and the fact that both cars are within three tenths of a second is a sign that we have quite a strong team here," said Gavin. "I think it is going to be a very tough race between our cars and the competition. This is a very tough track on cars, drivers and crews. The pole is great but it is a very small part of winning the race on Saturday."

Fellows has two GTS victories at Sebring in the Corvette C5-R. His Thursday qualifying time was nearly two seconds faster than the 2003 pole position. The Canadian credits an intense off-season testing program and new technologies for the fast lap times.

"Our new Michelin tires are quite good although we find they come into the correct temperature range a bit later than what we had last year," said Fellows. "When they do come into temperature, they are great. As always traffic is a factor and our time was the best we could do today. Johnny, Max and I are happy with the way the Corvette is balanced and with all the testing we have done here we believe we have the right car for a 12-hour race."

The Corvette Racing team will begin the 12 Hours of Sebring at 10:45 a.m. on Saturday.

Provisional Grid (GTS Class)
Pos. Overall Pos. Car Qualifying Driver Best Time
1 10 #4 Chevrolet Corvette C5-R Gavin 1:56.858
2 11 #3 Chevrolet Corvette C5-R Fellows 1:57.052
4 13 #71 Dodge Viper GTS-R Belloc 2:00.971
3 17 #26 Ferrari 575 GTC Hezemans 2:01.913
5 20 #25 Ferrari 575 GTC Biagi 2:03.403
6 41 #63 Saleen S7R N/A No time*
*Did not qualify