Ford Best / Corvette Worst in GTE Pro in LeMans Qualifying, Adjustments Required
Yesterday we brought you the results of the 1st round of LeMans qualifying, with the new Ford GT teams grabbing the top two spots and four of the top five spots, with a lone Ferrari breaking up Ford’s party in the 3rd position. The Chevrolet Corvette C7R entries from Corvette Racing were shockingly slow in the 1st round of qualifying due to a Balance of Performance adjustment required from the race officials, settling for the bottom two spots in the GTE Pro class after being the quickest cars at the LeMans practice a few weeks back.
Round two of LeMans qualifying followed the same storyline with the Fords and Ferraris being the fastest in the GTE Pro class as the Corvettes were still the slowest in class, but with literally every car in the GTE Pro class turning in slower lap times in qualifying session two – the 1st session proved to be the deciding factor in how the production based cars would line up for the 2016 24 Hours of LeMans race.
However, another round of Balance of Performance adjustments required by the race officials make it tough to guess which cars will be the fastest when the 24-hour endurance race begins later today.
As we reported yesterday, the new Ford GT race car will start 1st and 2nd in the GTE Pro class (34th and 35th overall) with a Ferrari 488 in 3rd and the other two Ford GTs will start 4th and 5th. A pair of Ferraris will start in 6th and 7th, the three Porsche 911 RSR entries will start 8th, 10th and 12th while the two Aston Martin Vantage teams will start 9th and 11th. Finally, the two Corvette Racing entries will start 13th and 14th in class and not only is the #63 Corvette C7R starting last in class, but it is 52nd overall, starting behind five of the “slower” GTE Am entries. The other thirteen GTE Pro entries are all in a group, leaving only the 2015 champion Corvette to start in the middle of the GTE Am field.
1- #68 Ford Chip Ganassi Team USA – Ford GT – 3:51.185
2- #69 Ford Chip Ganassi Team USA – Ford GT – 3.51.497
3- #51 AF Corsa – Ferrari 488 GTE – 3.51.586
4- #67 Ford Chip Ganassi Team UK – Ford GT – 3.51.590
5- #66 Ford Chip Ganassi Team UK – Ford GT – 3.52.038
6-#71 AF Corsa – Ferrari 488 GTE – 3.52.508
7- #82 Risi Competizione – Ferrari 488 GTE – 3.53.176
8- #92 Porsche Motorsport – Porsche 911 RSR – 3.54.918
9- #95 Aston Martin Racing – Aston Martin Vantage – 3.55.261
10- #91 Porsche Motorsport – Porsche 911 RSR – 3.55.332
11- #97 Aston Martin Racing – Aston Martin Vantage – 3.55.380
12 – #77 Dempsey Proton Racing – Porsche 911 RSR – 3.55.426
13- #64 Corvette Racing General Motors – Chevrolet Corvette C7R – 3.55.848
14- #63 Corvette Racing General Motors – Chevrolet Corvette C7R – 3.57.967
Balance of Performance Adjustments
If you are a Corvette Racing fan who missed the news of yesterday’s disappointing qualifying effort after being the quickest in the class at the June 5th LeMans Test Day, you might be unaware of the Balance of Performance adjustments required of the GTE Pro Corvette C7R teams ahead of qualifying. After Corvettes were 1st and 4th quickest on Test Day, the LeMans officials slapped them with a Balance of Performance adjustment that included restricting the amount of air entering the engine – thus restricting the power levels of the championship Corvette teams.
The idea of the Balance of Performance program is to balance performance across the class, which means that if the calculations are performed correctly, the field should be even tighter. Instead, these changes made the Corvette Racing teams significantly slower than the rest of the GTE Pro field. After being about a second quicker than the best Ford GT on Test Day, the quickest Corvette C7R was over 4.5 seconds slower than the class-leading Ford. More importantly, the #63 Corvette which led the field just a few weeks ago was more than 6.7 seconds slower than the top Ford GT. The #63 Corvette was also more than a second slower than the top qualifier in the “slower” GTE Am class.
In other words, something wasn’t quite right with the Balance of Performance adjustments required of Corvette Racing and as a result, the two strongest cars in the American endurance racing ranks will start at the rear of the class – but there is some good news for the Corvette teams ahead of the start of the 24 hour race.
After seeing the domination of the Ford GT teams in qualifying, the LeMans officials announced another round of Balance of Performance adjustments for all of the teams in GTE Pro. Ford was required to reduce boost levels and add weight, but they were granted extra fuel capacity. Ferrari was required to add weight, but they were also granted extra fuel capacity. The Corvette and Aston Martin teams have been permitted to run less air restriction and the Porsche teams were granted extra fuel capacity.
In theory, these changes should make the cars in the GTE Pro class more competitive when they hit the track, but that is in a perfect world and the 24 Hours of LeMans is far from a perfect world. This grueling 24 hour endurance race often comes down to a battle of attrition, so while being fast is good – being fast for 24 hours is the key.