It was edge-of-the-seat racing throughout, no matter whether you were competing or spectating, and it was with some emotion and considerable joy that Olly took the chequered flag as winner of the GT class in the third round of the American Le Mans Series at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, with the No. 3 Corvette making it a 1-2 finish for the American manufacturer.
Success in the six-hour event gave the British driver his 36th career ALMS victory and his young team mate Tom Milner his second, but they had to battle extremely hard for their second victory in two races.
Seven GT cars finished on the same lap and there was never a time throughout the six hours when a train of GT cars wasn’t providing entertainment and nose-to-tail racing. In addition to the win Olly set fastest GT lap of the race, and the result takes he and Tommy to the head of the ALMS GT points’ standings.
“We had just enough pace to take on anyone today”, said a beaming Olly. “It was very close with our sister car, both the BMWs and the Aston Martin at the start. Once again, any one of about six cars could have won but we managed to nail it all together and I’m thrilled with the result. We kept out of trouble and got past people when necessary and Tommy had a very solid middle stint which kept us in the hunt all the time, despite the setbacks we had to overcome.”
The first round of pit stops, which took place under the first of six full course caution periods, set the No. 4 Corvette on its course for victory when the crew managed to beat the remainder of the GT field out of the pits. Olly held onto the lead until the third round of pit stops when a fueling problem delayed them considerably and dropped them back to seventh in class.
The two drivers set about clawing back the deficit but it wasn’t until the final round of pit stops – with just over an hour of the race left to run – that the tables turned back in their favour with a re-shuffling of positions after another flawlessly fast turnaround by the No. 4 pit crew led by Brian Hoye. That, together with a great overtaking move by Olly on Wolf Henzler and a little luck, kept victory in sight through to the end.
“It was an exciting race,” said Olly with some understatement! “There was always something going on, with lots of chopping and changing positions. We weren’t racing any one car but maybe five or six and always a different car with different characteristics. You had to think carefully how to pass and how to make those passes stick and every lap was a challenge which kept you on your toes the whole time.
“It was a great race for me today and it’s nice to get two in a row and the championship lead. That gives us a big boost going forward into Le Mans and I’m very happy to be in this position. It’s been a great start to the season.”
Olly and the Corvette Racing team now turn their full attention to the 24 Hours of Le Mans in France. The only official test day to be held takes place on Sunday 3rd June, with the race itself on 16/17th June.