Oliver Gavin and his team mate Olivier Beretta recorded their best finish of the season so far when they finished runner up in the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Challenge today, the sixth round of the American Le Mans Series. In the fiercely contested GT class, Olly crossed the finishing line just 0.582 seconds behind the winning No. 62 Ferrari 430 GT of Jaime Melo and Gianmaria Bruni after an epic battle with the Brazilian in the closing stages of the race.
“I know I’ve been in a real race today but it was fantastic fun and I really enjoyed it,” Olly said. “We’ve a great team around us at Corvette, and we can really build on this momentum and move forward now to Elkhart Lake in two weeks time.”
Beretta started third on the GT grid, holding a determined pair of BMW drivers at bay until the first full-course caution came at 48 minutes into the race. Olly took over the No. 4 Corvette, emerging in third again after the pit stops. A brilliant five-car battle for the GT lead then broke out, with team mate Jan Magnussen fourth in the No. 3 Corvette. The running order shifted suddenly when the No. 62 Ferrari lost positions due to a fuel pump problem, and the No. 3 Corvette went to the pits for coolant. Olly moved to second, and then took the lead with an outside pass in the Turn 2 Keyhole. He raced wheel-to-wheel with Bill Auberlen’s BMW through the next three corners, finally making the pass stick, and quickly opening up a 1.4-second gap.
“I had a great race with Bill,” enthused the British driver. “He could have hung me out or even had me off if he’d wanted to, but he was fair. After all that’s happened in the last few races, I think people are getting the message that we can have a little bit of bumping, but nobody can be pushed off the road. You’ve just got to work and work to overtake, and I managed to do that today with everyone except Jaime.”
In a replay of their duel in Le Mans, Gavin and Melo raced nose-to-tail until the second full-course caution at 1:49. Gavin pitted for fuel and four tires, but his rivals opted for only two tires to gain track position. He found himself fifth in the queue, but methodically picked off his opponents, passing the No. 45 Porsche, the No. 90 BMW, and the No. 92 BMW. When the race resumed after the third caution period with 10 minutes remaining, Gavin was on the Ferrari’s back bumper. It was a fight to the finish, but the Corvette came up half a second short at the chequered flag.
“It was fantastic race, and I really enjoyed it, but I’m just a little frustrated that we didn’t have quite enough at the end,” Olly said. “It looked like we were going to be able to get Jaime with the advantage we had by changing all four tyres instead of just the left ones like they did, but the Ferrari was just a bit quicker than us. Jaime was clean, hard but fair and he really made the most of the traffic when he needed to, getting past the BMWs very well.”