Photo by John Thawley LEXINGTON, Ohio, July 20, 2007 - Corvette Racing shattered the GT1 track record at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course today in qualifying for Saturday's American Le Mans Series Acura Sports Car Challenge. Oliver Gavin will start on the class pole after a qualifying duel with Johnny O'Connell was decided in technical inspection.

O'Connell toured the 2.25-mile Mid-Ohio circuit in 1:16.568 (106.164 mph) in the No. 3 Compuware Corvette C6.R, edging Gavin's fast lap of 1:16.635 (106.072 mph) in the No. 4 Compuware Corvette C6.R by .067 seconds. However, the No. 3 Corvette C6.R subsequently failed to pass a post-qualifying stall test and O'Connell's time was disallowed. Consequently the No. 3 Corvette will start the two-hour, 45-minute race from the back of the grid.

"Apparently there was a malfunction in the sealing of the airbox, and the engine didn't stall when IMSA officials tested it after qualifying," said Corvette Racing team manager Gary Pratt. "Therefore they disallowed the car's time."

Both Corvette drivers eclipsed the 1:18.033 GT1 qualifying record set by Gavin in May 2005 as they traded the fastest time throughout the 20-minute session. Gavin was out first and set the time to beat on his second lap at 1:17.064. O'Connell responded with a 1:16.980. Gavin then improved to 1:16.635, and O'Connell turned the fastest lap at 1:16.568. Gavin cooled his tires and made a final run for the pole, but fell just short with a lap at 1:16.699.

"On my two fastest laps I went a little too deep into Turns 4 and 11 and lost some time," Gavin said. "If I hadn't done that, I think we might have just got ahead of Johnny. But it's always going to be very close between the two Corvettes.

"This race track is a lot of fun to drive around," Gavin added. "The tarmac that's been down for about a year now is giving good grip, it's reasonably smooth, and we can attack the corners."

"We made a suspension change to our car right before qualifying that they had found worked well on the No. 4 Corvette," O'Connell reported. "Our car also responded to it. Both crews work together, and some of the mechanics from the No. 4 Corvette were helping on my car. Jan (Magnussen) was mega fast this morning and he definitely moved our car forward.

"They've improved the circuit, made the curbs more friendly, and I think every category is running faster," O'Connell continued. "Corvette Racing has also improved the Corvette C6.R and Michelin has improved the tires, so I'd expect us to be quicker than we were in 2005."

The Acura Sports Car Challenge, the seventh round of the 12-race ALMS series, will start at 3:15 p.m. EDT on Saturday, July 21. CBS Sports will televise the two-hour, 45-minute race tape-delayed at 2 p.m. EDT on Sunday, July 22.



Photo by John Thawley LEXINGTON, OHIO — Veteran Adrian Fernandez, a two-time winner at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, turned in an impressive qualifying run for Acura Friday in preparations for Saturday's Acura Sports Car Challenge, the seventh race in the 12-event American Le Mans Series.

Fernandez drove his No. 15 Lowe's Fernandez Racing Acura Lola B06/40 prototype to the third starting position for Saturday's two-hour, 45-minute sports car contest, set for 3:15 p.m. (EDT) on the 2.25-mile, 13-turn Mid-Ohio road circuit. Fernandez, who captured the 1998 Champ Car race and last year's Grand Am sports-car event at Mid-Ohio, kept the pressure on the Penske Porsches during the 20-minute qualifying session. Fernandez was one of only three drivers to break the 69-second barrier, with a time of one minute, 8.973 seconds.

Timo Bernhard won the pole in the Penske Porsche at 1:08.516 with Sasha Maassen second at 1:08.755 in the sister Porsche.

Fernandez threw down the gauntlet early in qualifying with impressive clockings in his Lowe's Acura as he drove quicker with each lap, going from 1:09.693 to 1:09.527 to 1:09.295 to 1:08.973. Adrian tried one final lap to break up the Porsche front row but he ran out of time when the checkered flag flew.

Stefan Johansson drove the No. 9 Highcroft Racing Acura ARX-01a to the sixth starting spot with a 1:09.677 as the Highcroft team did a superb job in repairing the car after co-driver David Brabham was hit during a practice session by a Ferrari that had lost its brakes. The team repaired front suspension, bodywork and the floor.

Bryan Herta ended up seventh in the starting grid with the No. 26 XM Satellite Radio Acura ARX-01a, with a time of 1:09.832. The Andretti Green team also had to make repairs Friday after an under tray on the prototype sports car came apart during the afternoon practice session.

Saturday's American Le Mans Series race will be telecast Sunday at 2 p.m. (EDT) on CBS-TV.


ADRIAN FERNANDEZ (#15 Lowe's Fernandez Acura Lola 06/40): /strong>"I was proud of Luis (Diaz) and the whole Lowe's Acura team. At the end, I thought I had a chance to get into the front row but I had a down shifting problem on the final lap. I was already a tenth and half quicker on the final lap, but I didn't get another lap. It is a good result. The Porsches are still strong but I think we are catching up. We should have a good car for the Acura Challenge."

STEFAN JOHANSSON (#9 Highcroft Racing Acura ARX-01a): "The car was very good after the crew worked hard to get it ready for the afternoon. David (Brabham) got hit by a car and we lost a whole practice session today. That makes it hard for us to catch up with some of the other teams. AGR had the same problem in the afternoon. The series is so competitive that you can't lose any time on the track. But we have a good car for the race and I enjoyed driving at Mid-Ohio. I think David and I will be competitive Saturday."

BRYAN HERTA (#26 XM Satellite Radio AGR Acura ARX-01a): "Obviously we're disappointed to qualify seventh, our worst qualifying effort of the year. We just got set back a little bit with the accident in the last practice session. We lost the track time and never got the chance to run sticker tires in practice. Because of that, we didn't really know what the XM Satellite Radio Acura was going to do. Once we put the sticker tires on, we didn't really have the balance quite right. We can address it for tomorrow. It's a long race.



Photo by John Thawley Stefan Johansson will start the seventh round of the American Le Mans Series in sixth position on the grid in the Acura Sports Car Challenge at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on Saturday, July 21st.

Exiting the car after the 20-minute qualifying session on Friday evening, Stefan pointed out that "we could have possibly gotten another 3 or 4 tenths of a second out of the car – but it's a toss up, you never really know. Part of the challenge this weekend is that we're fighting the front of the car all the time. If you don't have front grip on a track like Mid-Ohio, it can kill your lap time because you're always waiting for the car to take a bite. I think we're in as good shape as everyone else, but you always want to be further up on the grid."

This challenge was compounded by this morning's events, when the #9 Acura was hit by the #61 Risi Ferarri in David Brabham's out lap early in the practice session. The car had to come back to the shop, cutting track time short. Though the car sustained substantial damage to the body and suspension, the crew did a phenomenal job of repairing the car and getting it back out for the full practice session later in the afternoon.

Team owner Duncan Dayton pointed out "in a situation that's this competitive, you can't afford the loss of track time. The Penske cars were able to continually extract time out of their cars, while we're essentially where we were at the end of the first session. But we're working on the set up for tomorrow and we'll be ready for the race."

The green flag drops at 3:15 pm on Saturday, July 21st. The race will air on a delayed broadcast at 2:00 ET on CBS on Sunday, July 22nd.

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