Oliver made his debut in the FIA GT1 World Championship this weekend on Silverstone’s new Arena circuit and really enjoyed being back racing on British soil in front of his many fans, family and friends.
Driving for the Mad Croc Racing team in a Corvette Z06, 13th and 15th finishing positions in the two one-hour races were poor return for the race pace shown by Olly in the Patrick Selleslagh-run car.
In the Qualifying Race on Saturday afternoon, Oliver’s team mate Pertti Kuismanen took the start and held his grid position before handing over to the Briton at 25 minutes 12 seconds into the race, the first of the 23 cars to make their pit stop.
“The pit stop was a little bit slow,” said Oliver, “because the engine was taking its time to fire so we dropped back in the order. Once we got back out it was confusing as to who had and hadn’t made pit stops, and it was difficult to know the real order of things on the track.
“After the stops I quickly caught a Nissan and Lamborghini, but it was very difficult to get by them because these huge rear wings generate a lot of air turbulence and you lose a lot of down force at the front of the car which makes it tricky to pass. Eventually I managed it and came up against my team-mate and we had a good dice to the end of the race. It was going to take some contact to get by him fully so I thought I’d leave it until tomorrow’s Championship Race!”
Those words proved to be somewhat prophetic, as the #12 Mad Croc Corvette was speared off the track on the 10th lap by Michael Krumm’s Nissan in a racing incident. By the time the car was extracted from the gravel trap, Oliver had had lost three laps and any hope of a good finish.
He explains what happened. “I’d caught Bertolini [Maserati #1]and Krumm going into Stowe and they were squabbling over 7th place and they both ended up on the Astroturf on the exit of Stowe. They both headed to the right for braking into Vale and I got a good run on them and I knew our car was good on the brakes there. I went up the inside and thought I was definitely past them when there was then a big bang on the right rear and I was spun around. It was really frustrating and a big shame as I think we could have been up to 7th. I talked to Michael afterwards but he said he didn’t really know what happened.
“The start was really good and a lot of fun. Everyone seemed to want to go inside and I got up behind the Phoenix Corvette and I could see fuel was coming out of its right side as we went round the Arena corner. He had fuel on his tyre so was slipping around. He went down into Brooklands and was trying to defend his position but slid wide because of more fuel on his tyres; the car caught fire later on the next lap and the safety car came out. Fortunately Hezemans was okay, although the car doesn’t look too pretty now.
“It was a shame the Safety Car was out for such a long time but I really enjoyed being back racing at Silverstone and making my debut in the FIA GT1 World Championship. I’m a big fan of the new layout; there are some great overtaking opportunities. It’s fun and challenging and I think it suits different cars in different places so you really have to think about where to pass people. I’m looking forward to seeing the F1 cars and Moto GP bikes on it.”