A two-day test at the roller-coaster Road Atlanta circuit has prepared Oliver Gavin and the Corvette Racing team for Saturday’s 1,000-mile/10-hour Petit Le Mans, the ninth and final round of the 2010 American Le Mans Series. With four victories at Petit Le Mans in the GTS/GT1 division to his name, the British driver – celebrating his 38th birthday today – is aiming to bring his 2010 season to a close with an inaugural GT2 win.
Like its namesake, the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the 13th annual Petit Le Mans demands preparation, execution, endurance and strategy. Although rain on Sunday dampened the second day of a scheduled two-day test at the 2.54-mile, 12-turn road course, the Chevrolet team is well prepared for the long day of racing.
Last year’s Petit Le Mans was red-flagged after only four hours and 50 minutes of racing when a deluge descended on Road Atlanta which flooded the track. With the race at Mosport International Raceway a month ago also abbreviated due to guardrail damage, there is a feeling of unfinished business at Petit Le Mans.
“It was a frustrating end to last year’s Petit Le Mans with the downpour,” says Olly, who will be driving the No. 4 Corvette C6.R with Jan Magnussen and Emanuel Collard. “Everyone was just keeping themselves in the game, staying on the lead lap, and then all of a sudden the rain hit and the race was red flagged. We never got a chance to push in that final few hours and battle to the end.
“This year the GT2 class is massively competitive, and everyone at Corvette Racing is very keen to win this last race,” he continues. “We’re going to be 150 percent focused on everything that needs to happen to make the race ours. The intensity is as high as the 24 Hours of Le Mans, with a large field of 45 cars including some very quick prototypes. The whole ethos of the race is the fact that you’re racing in different classes with the best sports car drivers in the world and running your own race within the race just adds to the pressure and excitement.
“I’m really looking forward to this race as we’ve been improving race by race and I believe we can challenge for the win just as much as the Ferraris or Porsches or BMWs can. In testing at the weekend we made good progress and most of the opposition were there too so we could judge ourselves against them. The Ferraris seemed quite a bit quicker but it’ll be a bit different once everyone else is here and we’re all on track together. There are 17 cars in the GT2 class – that will be one heck of a race and I just hope we’re at the front when the chequered flag falls.”