Corvette Racing crew and drivers had their work cut out for them after a chain reaction accident damaged both Compuware Corvette C6.Rs just 20 minutes into the race at Lime Rock Park this weekend.
Qualifying for the American Le Mans Northeast Grand Prix was complicated by intermittent rain and rapidly changing track conditions.
Weather during the practice sessions precluded the use of slick tires. While the track did dry in time for qualifying, it was the first dry session of the weekend. Little time was found for dry setup.
Tommy Milner qualified his Corvette in fifth place for the start of the race. “With very little dry practice time, qualifying ended up being a practice session at the start,” Milner noted. “It was good for me to get a feel for the car on slick tires at the end of practice, but it was really hard to push in those damp and drying conditions.”
Oliver Gavin qualified the #4 Corvette one spot higher, just a tenth of a second faster than Milner, and a tenth slower than the third place Porsche. “It was a shame that we couldn’t find a couple of more tenths to get in front of the Porsche that’s third on the grid,” Gavin continued. “I did make a small mistake in the final corner, touched the curb on the inside, and that might have made the difference.”
Jan Magnussen and Olivier Beretta were running fourth and fifth in the GT class when the incident occurred near the exit of the West Bend turn leading to the fast downhill Diving Turn. An LMPC prototype car made contact with a Ferrari and the following GT cars had nowhere to go.
The #4 Corvette collided with a BMW and was then hit by the #3 Corvette. Both cars sustained damage to the left front corner and headed to the pits for repairs. The LMPC car was later penalized for avoidable contact, but the Corvettes had already paid a high price.
“That’s part of racing at Lime Rock when you have cars running that close,” explained team manager Gary Pratt. “Somebody spins, somebody checks up, and four or five cars get into each other. We had a lot of pieces and parts to change.”
The #3 crew were able to replace a damaged suspension upright and install a new nose in the pit area, while the #4 Corvette crew took their car behind the wall to install a new nose assembly. Beretta rejoined the race 17 laps behind the leader, and Magnussen was down 22 laps. By the end, Olivier Beretta and Tommy Milner battled back to bring the #3 Corvette C6.R home in ninth place while Jan Magnussen and Oliver Gavin finished 10th in the #4 Corvette C6.R.
The American Le Mans Series’ next event is the Grand Prix of Mosport in Bowmanville, Ontario, on Sunday, July 24 starting at 3 p.m. ET. Live video coverage will available on ESPN3.com in the US and americanlemans.com for international users.