It's been a rough year for the defending 24 Hours of Le Mans GT1 champions at Corvette Racing now that they've waded into the ultra-competitive GT2 class. You wouldn't know it today, though, because they've captured their third consecutive pole at La Sarthe.
In the decade that Corvette Racing has been competing at Le Mans, the team has finished on the podium every single year and scored six wins in 10 attempts in the GT1 class. Today marks the third year in a row and third year overall the team has taken the pole, though this particular victory was a stroke of luck. The team's two cars actually qualified second and third behind the Risi Competizione Ferrari, which was later disqualified for an unspecified technical violation. The first four starting cars, including the disqualified Ferrari, were all within tenths of a second of each other running the 8.47-mile track in three minutes fifty-nine seconds each.
The Corvettes now sit just tenths of a second ahead of another Ferrari team looking to break their winning streak, and it's a serious threat. After years of dominating the GT1 class both at Le Mans and in the American Le Mans Series, Corvette Racing switched to GT2 at the end of last year as the two GT classes are slowly merged into one. Whereas Corvette Racing was the last team running in GT1 and mostly unopposed, the team has found a number of worthy challengers in GT2 and is currently sitting fourth in points behind Porsche, BMW and Ferrari in the ALMS series. The team has yet to record a win in 2010, finishing as high as second at Long Beach.
Elsewhere at Le Mans, Peugeot continues to rain on Audi's parade. After five consecutive overall wins and eight wins in the past 10 years, Peugeot broke Audi's streak by beating them at their own game. After three consecutive wins for the diesel-powered Audi R10 Prototype, Peugeot's 908 HDi FAP Prototype took the overall win in 2009 and now has taken the pole for the 2010 race. In fact, diesel-powered Peugeot cars have taken the top four positions on the starting grid, relegating Audi to fifth through seventh. Audi, of course, explains that they weren't going for a fast qualifying time but instead using the opportunity to finish fine-tuning their car for the actual race.
The 2010 24 Hours of Le Mans starts at precisely 3:00 p.m. Central European Time this Saturday, June 12. For those watching from across the pond, that's 9 a.m. Eastern and 6 a.m. Pacific. SpeedTV will broadcast live coverage of the start of the race until 12:30 p.m. EST, then pick up again at 6 p.m. EST and continue on until 9:30 a.m. EST Sunday morning after the race ends. 24-hour radio coverage will be available at RadioLeMans.com and 24-hour video coverage from the cockpits of the Audi team will be available on Audi.tv.