Chevrolet Corvette C7R Teams Struggle in Rolex 24 Qualifying, Corvette DPs Shine
A Chevrolet Corvette has won the GT class driver’s championship in the American LeMans Series in each of the last two years as well as the manufacturer’s championship so when the new Pratt & Miller built Chevrolet Corvette C7R teams showed up in Daytona for the 2014 Rolex 24 with these new race cars, they were the teams to watch early on.
Not surprisingly, the #3 Corvette C7R (shown above) driven by 2013 ALMS champs Jan Magnussen and Antonio Garcia (along with newcomer Ryan Briscoe) was the fastest car in the GTLM class during practice with times in the 1:46 range but in the second practice round, the SRT Viper teams jumped into the top two spots with lap times in the 1:45 range. The two Corvette C7R teams both also pushed into the 1:45 range but they both fell short of the V10 powered Mopar race cars.
After the Viper GTS-R and the Corvette C7R went back and forth in practice, the #4 Corvette driven by Oliver Gavin ran a lap time of 1:44.729. This was the quickest lap time by either of the Corvette C7R race cars but that best time fell short of either of the Viper teams and one of the Porsche 911 teams. This locked the #4 Corvette C7R driven by Gavin, Tommy Milner and Robin Lidell into the 4th place in the GTLM class and the 27th position overall.
Unfortunately, the #3 Corvette driven by reigning ALMS driver’s champs Garcia and Magnussen ran into an unspecified throttle problem prior to qualifying and that new Corvette was unable to make a qualifying run - which comes as a particularly disappointing blow after the car's strong practice runs.
Because of those mechanical gremlins, the #3 Corvette will start in the last (11th) position in the GTLM class and 62nd out of the 67 car field. That puts the #3 Corvette team in a tough spot to start the race but considering that just about anything can happen over the course of the 24 hour shootout – the lackluster qualifying efforts may serve as only a small speed bump on their road to victory.
The good news for Corvette race fans is that the fastest group of cars in the Rolex 24 – the Prototype class – was dominated by Corvette Daytona Prototype (DP) race cars. Alex Gurney turned in the best qualifying time of the day with a time of 1:38.27, beating the closest competitor by just over two tenths of a mile per hour.
That competitor was also a Corvette DP as were the cars that qualified in the 3rd, 4th, 6th and 9th spots in the Prototype class. If not for the Ford EcoBoost powered Riley Technologies car qualifying 5th, Corvette DPs would have claimed the top five starting spots in the Rolex 24. Based on this powerful qualifying effort, the Corvette DP teams have to feel pretty good about their chances in tomorrow’s race.
The Rolex 24 begins tomorrow (Saturday January 25th) at 2:10pm EST and ends on Sunday at 2:10pm.