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BALTIMORE, Aug. 31, 2012 – As Oliver Gavin prepared to make his qualifying run for Saturday’s Baltimore Sports Car Challenge in the No. 4 Compuware Corvette C6.R, he asked engineer Chuck Houghton how many laps he had. Houghton replied, “However many it takes for you to put the car on the pole.”
Gavin needed only four laps to post the quickest qualifying time in the GT class for the eighth round of the American Le Mans Series. He turned a time of 1:29.945 (81.650 mph) on his fourth time around the 2-mile, 12-turn temporary street circuit to claim his 20th career pole in the American Le Mans Series. Teammate Jan Magnussen was third quickest at 1:30.413 (81.227 mph) in his ninth and final lap in the No. 3 Compuware Corvette C6.R. Gavin won the pole on the streets of downtown Baltimore by a .382-second margin over the No. 55 BMW of Bill Auberlen that qualified second in the 13-strong GT field.
“It’s always fun to qualify on a street circuit, something a driver really relishes with new tires on a course that getting better and better with every lap,” Gavin said after setting the track qualifying record on the reconfigured course. “I’m delighted to be on the pole.”
The No. 4 Corvette C6.R set the pace in both practice sessions today. Gavin’s co-driver Tommy Milner did the initial setup during the one-hour morning practice, but Gavin’s track time in the final 30-minute afternoon session was cut short by red flags and contact with a prototype that damaged his car’s right-side bodywork and exhaust system. The No. 4 Corvette crew repaired the car in the pit lane, and Gavin was ready to charge when the green flag flew for 15 minutes of GT qualifying.
“The car was very good, and I have to thank Tommy for his excellent work this morning, and thank Chuck for coming up with a setup that was quick right off the truck,” Gavin said. “We made a few tweaks here and there, and then it was about finding the rhythm. That’s always the way it is on a street circuit, you just keep working away while you have the tire grip. I managed to nail it on the fourth lap. Then I was looking to go that little bit more, but I was starting to really hang it out and didn’t want to risk ending up in the wall.”
Magnussen made an all-out run for the pole on his final lap, but came up .468 seconds short. “We missed on the setup just a little bit, and it was hard for me to find the lap time,” Magnussen said. “For sure I didn’t get the best out of my tires when they were at their peak. After that I felt pretty secure, but it wasn’t possible for me to improve my lap time. We need to work on the race setup now. It’s a shame I didn’t nail it on the lap when I needed to, but that’s how it is.”
Gavin and Milner will start tomorrow’s race leading the GT championship by 18 points over Magnussen and Antonio Garcia. With 20 points on the line in the two-hour race, Gavin is mindful of the championship race.
“It’s going to be a real dogfight, and I’m sure that the car is going to come back with some scars on it,” he said. “We’re going to have to take some risks with traffic, maybe rub a wall here and there. We have to be smart as well, and as always you need some luck on a street course. We’re starting in the right spot, hopefully out ahead of the crowd where all the action can sometimes happen.”
The two-hour Baltimore Sports Car Challenge presented by SRT, the eighth round of the 2012 American Le Mans Series, will start at 4:30 p.m. ET on Saturday, Sept. 1. The race can be viewed live on ESPN3.com starting at 4:15 p.m. ET. ABC will televise the race at 12 p.m. ET on Sunday, Sept. 2.
Baltimore Sports Car Challenge GT Qualifying (Top 10)
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