The General Motors Chevrolet Corvette Racing team secured second and third positions on the GTS grid during qualifying for the Grand Prix Americas in downtown Miami, with Oliver Gavin and Kelly Collins best placed for the start on Saturday.

Gavin qualified ninth overall, in a time of 51.246secs, while O'Connell clocked 51.576secs in the #3 car he shares with Ron Fellows to take eleventh overall on the 37-car grid.

"We're exactly where we want to be in terms of setup," said GM road racing group manager Harry Turner, "I felt that both Johnny O'Connell and Oliver Gavin had very quick cars in the session. Unfortunately, we had a limited amount of time to find the right package on our #4 Corvette as we had a few problems late in the previous practice run. We're looking forward to a great race."

Going into this weekend's event, Chevrolet leads the GTS manufacturers' championship of the American Le Mans Series with only Petit Le Mans remaining on the 2003 schedule. Fellows and O'Connell lead the GTS driver standings, while the Corvette Racing squad is in front for the team championship. Corvette has won five of seven races in the ALMS to date, with Fellows and O'Connell co-driving to take three wins and Gavin and Collins claiming two.

Both Corvettes set a blistering pace in the early part of qualifying and were able to consistently post fast times, evidence of a balanced chassis and tyre set-up.

"We're very happy with these times," said programme manager Doug Fehan, "We effectively qualified both of our cars on race tyres, which is evidenced by how consistent our times were. If we can keep that pace tomorrow, we'll be just fine."

O'Connell initially set one of the fastest times in the 20-minute session, and felt confident GM Racing chassis engineers gave him the right race-day package.

"I'm very pleased with these times and both Ron and I know we have a comfortable race car," he said, "I had possibly a little too much rear brake bias, and got into some traffic, but for just learning this new track layout we have to be pretty happy. If we can run a clean race I think it will be another classic Ferrari and Corvette battle."

Gavin, who is currently tied for second place the GTS drivers' championship along with team-mate Collins, set a similar time to that of O'Connell, but shouldered the responsibility of a race car not fully developed for qualifying due to a mechanical problem during practice.

"We had some problems with an oil line to our transmission during practice and, unfortunately, that set us back to the point where we didn't have ample time to set the car up for qualifying," Gavin said, "That said, the boys did a superb job to get the car ready in a matter of minutes and it felt quite good, considering. I was able to get into the low 51-second range, but I feel that if we had more time we would have been somewhere in the mid 50s."

 

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