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Topic: CORVETTE RACING AT QATAR: First Pole for Corvette Z06 GT3.R

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CORVETTE RACING AT QATAR: First Pole for Corvette Z06 GT3.R (1/1)
 3/1/24 12:48pm
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CORVETTE RACING AT QATAR: First Pole for Corvette Z06 GT3.R

Corvette becomes first manufacturer with poles in three FIA WEC GT classes 

· First pole for new Chevrolet Corvette Z06 GT3.R in initial race with TF Sport

· Tom Van Rompuy fastest LMGT3 qualifier in first FIA WEC start

· Fifth pole position for Corvette brand in FIA WEC competition

· No. 81 TF Sport Corvette Z06 GT3.R to start first, No. 82 TF Sport Corvette to start 11th

LUSAIL, Qatar (March 1, 2024) – Chevrolet’s new Corvette Z06 GT3.R secured its first pole position Friday as Tom Van Rompuy set the fastest time in the LMGT3 Hyperpole session for TF Sport ahead of the FIA World Endurance Championship’s Qatar Airways Qatar 1812 Km.

Van Rompuy, driving the No. 81 Corvette Z06 GT3.R, set a time of 1:54.372 (105.944 mph) around Lusail International Circuit to take the pole in his first career FIA WEC event. His time in the Corvette, which he will share with Charlie Eastwood and Rui Andrade, was 0.807 seconds clear of the second-fastest time in class.

In addition to the first pole for the Corvette Z06 GT3.R, Friday’s achievement also marked the Corvette brand’s fifth pole position in WEC competition. It also is the first manufacturer to qualify on pole position in the series’ three GT classes.

The result also gave TF Sport its 10th pole in WEC competition and first since the Six Hours of Spa in May of 2023. 

The Qatar 1812 Km is the first race for the TF Sport/Corvette two-car alliance. The No. 82 Corvette of Hiroshi Koizumi, Sébastien Baud and Daniel Juncadella just missed the GT3 Hyperpole field and will start Saturday’s race 11th in class.

Friday’s session marked the first time – outside of the 24 Hours of Le Mans – that WEC used a Hyperpole session to set the grid for both the Hypercar and LMGT3 classes. The top-10 cars from the first round of qualifying advanced to the 10-minute Hyperpole.

The Qatar Airways Qatar 1812 Km is scheduled for 11 a.m. Arabian Standard Time / 3 a.m. Eastern Time on Saturday, March 2.  MotorTrend will provide both live television coverage in the U.S., as will MAX, MotorTrend Plus and the FIA WEC TV app on streaming devices.

TOM VAN ROMPUY, NO. 81 CHEVROLET CORVETTE Z06 GT3.R: “It’s a good thing this is on the screens because I otherwise I wouldn’t believe it! It’s my first qualifying session in WEC. We’ve worked really hard this week to improve the car and improve ourselves. The team did a mega job, as did the guys at Corvette and Pratt Miller. In the end, we made it all work so this is a team effort. I could put a really good lap together, and I’m really amazed with this result.”

More on key to taking pole position: “It was (important) really looking after the warmup of the tires. The first lap was really slow and then I was building up. I got another GT car ahead of me on the third lap so I had to back off again to go again. So I had two laps to do it and made it work to put it all together. So I’m very happy.”

Where is the team in managing what will be a long race: “The team has done a really great job. We have a strong package to compete. Obviously it’s a different thing than qualifying – race pace, managing the double-stinting and the other things. But I think we’re quite up to that. It’s exciting to see how it will work out tomorrow in the race.”

CHRISTIE BAGNE, CORVETTE Z06 GT3.R PROGRAM MANAGER: "We couldn't be happier for Tom, the No. 81 Corvette team and all of TF Sport. Taking pole position in the first WEC race for the Corvette Z06 GT3.R is a great accomplishment for the team, Chevrolet, Pratt Miller and everyone at Corvette Customer Support with a tremendous collaborative effort making this possible. We look forward to an exciting race tomorrow for both TF Sport Corvettes."

CHARLIE EASTWOOD, NO. 81 CHEVROLET CORVETTE Z06 GT3.R: “The collaboration that we have within the team during the first race is something I’ve never experienced. The mix between GM and Pratt Miller integrating into TF Sport, and also all of the drivers never meeting each other before last week and how we’ve all merged together, the pace of it is just incredible. In terms of helping my teammates, I’m trying to give them as much past experience as possible, even little things like full-course yellows, safety car procedures and things that are second-nature for myself now are very different from other championships in which they may have driven. My goal is always with the Silver and Bronze drivers is to reduce the capacity of thinking so they can focus more on driving. If I can give them any information so they don’t have to come on the radio and ask questions, that just gives them more of their capacity to focus on driving fast.

“I’m very hopeful for the race. With so many pit stops in a 10-hour event and with the pace that we’ve shown throughout all of the lineup, I don’t think there are many in a much better spot. It’s a big points event, and I’m for sure sitting here going for the win. To be honest, I don’t think it’s being unrealistic. If the team does what they do every year and all the drivers nail their stints – no track limit warnings, no drive-throughs and no mistakes – I feel like we can make a real difference in the race. We’ve been here a long time, and we don’t have long to wait to see where we finally are.”

DANI JUNCADELLA, NO. 82 CHEVROLET CORVETTE Z06 GT3.R: “I feel like everything has been smooth so far. We’ve done a lot of miles with zero issues, zero setbacks, no reliability issues and that’s really encouraging for a brand new car and a team that is still learning the car. It’s all been really cool so far. My teammates have been great. Seb, I know, is a very fast kid. With Hiroshi, I had low expectations to be fair and he has been way, way above where I expected. So that gives me a lot of encouragement for the race. He came here, didn’t know the track or the car and was immediately on pace.”

RUI ANDRADE, NO. 81 CHEVROLET CORVETTE Z06 GT3.R: “We’ve tried a lot of things, which is important considering this is the team’s first race with the Corvette. I think we are definitely in a strong window, and I’m really happy. We did take some steps that didn’t work out so well in practice, but now we are back in a quite comfortable spot. The biggest steps have been learning what we can get from the setup and what we can’t. There’s no point in chasing something that you aren’t going to get. We’ve found a good compromise and the car is strong. This is normal as you test and you do laps with a new car, so I’m pretty happy with what we have going into the race.”

SÉBASTIEN BAUD, NO. 82 CHEVROLET CORVETTE Z06 GT3.R: “I’m very happy going into the race. This is a very nice car and a very nice team. Everything is enjoyable. This week gave me a chance to learn the Corvette, learn the team and work with Dani and Hiro, who are both very fast. There is a good feeling now for the first race, which is very long. The car in practice has been good, we have no issues and the drivers have not made mistakes. We will look at the results from qualifying and then tomorrow stay focused in the race. It is very important to be careful around the Hypercars; it is my first race for me, for Hiro and for Dani with those cars in this championship. But we should stay focused on our own race. It’s important to stay calm, make no mistakes, no track limits… if we can finish in the top-five, this will be a good result for our first race together in this championship.”

TOM FERRIER, TF SPORT TEAM OWNER: “This an absolute dream start with Corvette. I’m not sure going into Hyperpole that we might be on pole. We weren’t thinking that far ahead! All credit to Tom, and the guys on the team did a great job. The race will be very long tomorrow, and that’s been our focus all week. It’s been a really busy winter trying to get everything ready. We had some testing at Dubai that wasn’t so successful with some weather; believe it or not we got rained off for two days so that cramped our preparation a little bit. It’s been a lot of hard work in a very short amount of time. We’ll see where we are, and hopefully we’ve got the ingredients to have a strong result.”

Ryan Smith
Judy Kouba Dominick

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