Olly’s look ahead to the Rolex 24 at Daytona

With the advent of the new Tudor United Sportscar Championship, the season starts earlier than ever, and this week Oliver Gavin heads to Daytona in Florida for the first major endurance classic of the year, the Rolex 24 at Daytona.

Gavin, who is beginning his 13th consecutive season with the championship-winning GT team, will once again be paired for the season with his 2012 ALMS GT co-champion Tommy Milner.  The mix of experience, youth, fitness, determination and ambition offered up by the duo has proved to be a winning formula .  The Anglo/American partnership is joined for the Rolex 24 and Sebring 12 Hours by another racer with all those elements, Scotsman Robin Liddell, who will be making his debut with Corvette Racing in the all-new C7R.

Olly feels there is much to look forward to in Florida:  “I’m quietly confident that we have ourselves in a pretty good spot.  Experience tells you that when you enter a race with a brand new car, it’s a bit of a voyage of discovery.  Regardless of how much testing you’ve done, things are going to come up or there will be conditions that you can only simulate in the race.

“So the team is quietly confident but we have to temper that with the fact that this is the Daytona 24 Hours which can be mechanically very hard on the car.  The layout of the Daytona International Speedway track means there is a lot of braking and accelerating, and going up and down the gearbox. When you look at the circuit layout, it really is a lot of high-speed, flat-out work with some heavy braking and slow corners mixed in.  Tyre temperature will be at a premium, especially if it’s cooler like on the test days. The long straights won’t help that at all.”

The tall, slim driver, who competes in marathons for ‘fun’, recognises that the race is going to be a big challenge.  “It’s a mighty challenge, and the guys at Corvette Racing are ready to face it head-on. This is like the first day back at school; everybody usually has shiny new suits and shiny new gear. For Daytona, not only will we have a new car but it will be our first time there as a team in a number of years.   There are a number of new regulations for pit stops, caution periods and so on and it will keep everyone on their toes.

“One of the things that was quite clear to me at the test was that our car looks like it will be very good in the areas where you have to deal with traffic.  It changes direction well and stops very well which is vital for when you’re getting through traffic, trying to pass people on the brakes or trying to manoeuver around someone in a tight spot.  That gives you a lot of confidence as a driver.

“The one area where it’s going to be a little bit of a challenge is that the classes seem to be very similar in straight-line speed, even some of the prototypes.  So there will be a drag race into the next big corner to get in a position to pass in those corners. Our car at the test was very good and very stable in those sections but the race might be different.  I feel like we have an advantage though and that’s a great place to start from.”


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