As expected at Lime Rock Park in Connecticut today there was close and fast racing, some bumping and banging and nose-to-tail action all the way from the GT class in the fourth round of the 2012 American Le Mans Series. Had it not been for a late-race caution period there would have been a four-way fight to the chequered flag.
As it was, the battle between Porsche, Corvette and Ferrari entertained the fans from start to finish, and Olly Gavin and his team mate Tommy Milner secured third place in class in their No.4 Corvette Racing C6.R behind the winning Flying Lizard Porsche of Bergmeister and Long and the sister Corvette of Jan Magnussen and Antonio Garcia. The result, and the points that came with it, mean that the duo retain their lead in the points standings.
After qualifying third on the GT grid, it looked as though Lady Luck had decided to favour Olly and Tommy for the race as they lined up in pole position for the start of the race. Although profiting from the misfortune of others is never a preferred method of gaining position, in racing you take what comes your way and Tommy was able to lead the race until the first of the four full course caution periods at 14 minutes into the 2 hour 45 minute race, despite the threat of some rain just before the start of the race and in the early laps.
Unfortunately at the re-start Tommy was boxed in amongst the GT pack and dropped some places on track, although he never lost contact with the leading pack and kept a cool head under pressure. He handed over to Olly after 1 hour and 38 minutes and the British driver went on to consolidate their position both in the race and the points table.
“The important thing going into the race was that we needed a good points finish to keep our lead in the standings and we got that,” said Olly. “Lime Rock is such an aggressive track, with so much bumping and banging going on up and down the field, and it’s difficult to stay completely clean and not have massive problems. It’s so easy to have a DNF here, so this is one of those places where you have to get through it and be happy with whatever you take away. Third is therefore a good result for us.
“Both Corvettes had some contact in the race, ours when Tommy was tagged by a spinning PC car, and the No.4 was never quite the same afterwards as we had a lot of understeer. That had a bit of an effect on our race, but the turning point for us was really at a re-start after the first caution period. Tommy was bottled up behind traffic and boxed in, and from that moment on we were never in a position to be able to get past the #3 car or the #45 Lizard Porsche.
“It was very close between so many of us, and there wasn’t much in it for the final three – there would only have been a second between us if it wasn’t for finishing under yellow flags. No one had enough of a performance advantage to make the pass on speed alone, and we’d have needed something big to happen to offer us that opportunity but it wasn’t to be today.
“We needed the result and to keep scoring points. Tommy and I have finished on the podium in every race so far and I’m happy with that.”
Olly’s next race will be the fifth round of the American Le Mans Series, the Mobil 1 presents the Grand Prix of Mosport on Sunday, July 22, at the newly re-named Canadian Tire Motorsports Park in Canada.