Category Archives: American Le Mans Series

Olly to make FIA WEC debut!

Olly will be doing double-duty this weekend in both the ALMS and the WEC!

The four-time American Le Mans Series GT champion will this weekend get his first opportunity to drive in the FIA World Endurance Championship…in an Aston Martin!

The long-time Corvette Racing factory driver has been snapped up as a last-minute addition to its driver line up by Aston Martin Racing to support his long-time friend and track rival, Darren Turner, in the No.97 Aston Martin Vantage in the LMGTE Pro category for the 6 Hours of Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas.

Stefan Mücke, Turner’s regular driving partner, sustained a rib injury two weeks ago in a race at Barcelona and, although he fully intends to drive this weekend, he found in practice that he was in considerable pain.  After being contacted by Aston Martin Team Principal John Gaw, Olly was delighted to be able to step in as a third driver for that car to back up Mücke and Turner.

With the full agreement and co-operation of all parties, Olly now looks forward to being the fourth driver to do ‘double-duty’ this weekend by racing in both the ALMS and the WEC.

“The opportunity has come out of the blue due to Stefan’s unfortunate accident,” he said. “It’s a great chance for me to compete both in the ALMS with Corvette Racing and in the WEC with Aston Martin Racing, but I wish him a speedy recovery first and foremost. Both the cars I will be in this weekend are leading their championships and I am very aware of my responsibilities to all parties.

“I have to thank GM Racing boss Mark Kent for allowing me to do this and I feel a lucky boy to be in both cars in such competitive events.  It’s also a little odd!  For pretty much all my Corvette Racing career I’ve raced against Aston Martin and now I am able to do this because there are no Corvettes in the LMGTE Pro class.  Odd but great.”

Stefan added:  “It’s great to have Olly in the car. He’s a very good driver and we’re looking forward to having his support this weekend. He did a few laps yesterday and was on the pace in the Vantage GTE really quickly.”

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A wild ride to 2nd in Baltimore

Baltimore wasn’t as unkind to Corvette Racing as it was to others, but it was still a wild ride!

Defending ALMS GT champions Oliver Gavin and Tommy Milner, in the No.4 Corvette C6.R, were runners-up for the second consecutive season on the streets of Baltimore after one of the wildest and most unpredictable races in the series’ history.  The duo finished behind their Corvette Racing team mates, Jan Magnussen and Antonio Garcia, and the result ensured their continued lead in the points’ standings.

The race featured a red-flag period of almost an hour after a massive crash blocked the circuit immediately following the start of the race.  Olly was fortunate to avoid this, having taken the start from second on the grid, but he had a short day’s work.  The length of the race was shortened from two hours to approximately 70 minutes, and both Corvettes were involved in a slight incident on the subsequent restart.

After making their one and only pit stop, Tommy rejoined the race in third place and chased down Maxime Martin’s BMW, moving into second with 41 minutes left.  The race’s fourth and final caution period led to Jan making a well-timed move on Tommy and another BMW going into Turn 1 and the No.4 settled in for a good points-earning finish.

Olly said afterwards:  “I’ve never been in anything like that before. You see a wreck like that at the start, and you think it’s going to be nasty.  Cars start bouncing around and ricocheting everywhere and there is nowhere for anyone to go. I was off-throttle as the Level 5 car went into the wall and I thought for sure he was going to bounce back across so I got to the left and managed to miss him.  He took numerous other cars in our class out including all three Porsches and the Risi Ferrari, and there was chaos behind me.

“We sat there for over 45 minutes waiting for them to clear up the mess and restart the race but then there was the added complication of the city-regulated 6:00pm racing curfew so the event went from being 2 hours to 1h15.  I think I only had about three racing laps in the car before handing over to Tommy so it wasn’t the longest day I’ve had, but it was certainly one of the weirdest.

“It’s pretty amazing that considering at one point (after the re-start) we were sitting in a wreck at Turn 4 – both cars – with others, we’ve somehow managed to pull a 1-2 out of that! It was one of those wacky races that you couldn’t take your eyes off of. You have to take every single one, and I’m very happy to take second in this one.”

Olly returns to action at the Circuit of The Americas in Austin, Texas, for the eighth round of the ALMS championship on Saturday 21st September.

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Front row start for Olly and Tommy in Baltimore

The mean streets of Baltimore were not so mean to Tommy and Olly in qualifying!

Olly will be starting the No.4 Corvette C6.R from 2nd place on the GT grid in Saturday’s Grand Prix of Baltimore. The positions is a solid one for Corvette Racing and for the drivers, who are leading in the American Le Mans Series’ GT Drivers championship.

Tommy Milner qualified in 3rd on Friday with a time of 1:30.007 around the 2.04-mile, 12-turn street circuit alongside Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. Teammate Jan Magnussen in the No. 3 Corvette ended the session fifth at 1:30.132, but a post-session technical penalty for the No.56 BMW means that each Corvette will be moved up a place on the grid.  The No.55 BMW of Auberlen starts from pole.

Saturday’s race is the seventh round of the ALMS championship. Live online coverage begins at 3:30 p.m. ET on ESPN3. On Sunday, ABC’s coverage starts at noon ET.

Tommy and Olly placed second in last year’s race at Baltimore and they are the only pairing to win more than once in the class this season.  Jan Magnussen and Antonio Garcia, who stand fourth together in the championship, underwent some drama following an engine issue in the day’s first practice. The No. 3 crew changed the Corvette’s motor in less than two hours, and the car made the next session.

Tommy commented (before the BMW penalty was given), “In the end, I could have gone quicker were it not for traffic early. It is what it is. Third place is good. Based on all the practice sessions and qualifying, it will be an incredible race. I laid it all out there in qualifying. It’s so close that if I didn’t push that extra last little bit, I would have been fifth or sixth and that puts us in a worse position for the race. In this case, qualifying matters because the race matters, and because it’s hard to pass getting the car up front is important. The car feels good and should be great for the race.”

Olly added:  “Tommy had some bad luck with the traffic but then got a good clear lap and, as ever, did a great job.  I think the next lap would have been even quicker but he got traffic again.  That’s the way it goes on street tracks.  As it turns out now, with Joey Hand’s BMW being relegated, we are in a really good position for the race.  All we have to do is keep our nose clean and ride the bumps well!”

 

 

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Crab cakes, Camden Yards and Corvette…it’s Baltimore!

With thanks to Corvette Racing, here’s a look ahead to this weekend’s 7th round of the ALMS.

Crab cakes, Camden Yards and Charm City’s temporary street circuit await Corvette Racing and its two Compuware Chevrolet Corvette C6.R race cars this weekend with the third running of the Grand Prix of Baltimore. One of the newest venues on the ALMS calendar has been kind to Corvette Racing with podium finishes in the event’s first two years.

The concrete canyons along Baltimore’s Inner Harbor frame a demanding and unforgiving layout that will challenge Corvette Racing’s four drivers. ALMS GT championship leaders Oliver Gavin and Tommy Milner – who lives 90 minutes from Baltimore in his native Virginia – drive the No. 4 Compuware Corvette that has won two races this season. Meanwhile, Antonio Garcia and Jan Magnussen look to win for the second time in 2013 with their No. 3 Corvette. The pair stands fourth in the drivers’ standings but only six points out of first place.

With four races remaining in the ALMS season, positions and points are at a premium. In addition to the drivers’ championship, Chevrolet leads the GT manufacturers’ standings, as does Corvette Racing in the team category.

The Inner Harbor circuit measures 2.02 miles in length with 12 turns. The long frontstretch features a temporary chicane to slow cars before crossing a light-rail line prior to start-finish and a hard right-hander for Turn 1. The course also features a tight hairpin turn and a run around Camden Yards – home of Major League Baseball’s Baltimore Orioles.

Corvette Racing appears to have history – brief as it may be – on its side at Baltimore. Gavin and Magnussen were third in 2011 with Gavin and Milner runners-up last year en route to the ALMS championship. Gavin was on pole position and set the fastest GT race lap in 2012, and Magnussen was the fastest driver in the 2011 race.

OLIVER GAVIN, NO. 4 COMPUWARE CORVETTE C6.R

“Baltimore is a lot of fun. I have some pretty good memories from there. I won pole last year, which was very satisfying. I enjoy the circuit. It is, alongside Sebring, the most aggressive circuit we race on in terms of the bumps and how physical the circuit can be. It’s tight and challenging. The walls are right there and you have to run right against them. I actually have the wing mirror from last year! The team gave it to me after the Baltimore event. The right side is missing – just the end part of it – as I scraped up against the side of the wall in qualifying. That’s kind of satisfying to do that kind of thing; you’re right on the limit and can’t use any more of the circuit.”

(Describing a lap) “It’s unique like every street circuit is. Braking into Turn 1 is tricky and challenging because it’s bumpy and it’s wide. You’re all the time wondering what side of the track you need to be. Can I be looking further on the inside or all the way out? Also just before the corner late in the braking zone, it goes quite a bit downhill. So that’s another thing that can catch you out. Braking into Turn 3 – the hairpin – is super bumpy but you always get a lot of grip right and the end of the braking zone and it’s very wide. Then you come back along the circuit to where the pits are, and they always resurface that area where the tram lines go. That part is very ‘grippy’. They use very good tarmac there. That part of the track is very quick, and there is another section back around the other side of the baseball field just before you get back on the start-finish straight.”

TOMMY MILNER, NO. 4 COMPUWARE CORVETTE C6.R

“It’s a home race for me. The last couple years, it’s been a fantastic event with good crowds and lots of new people to see us race. It’s great to see that the D.C., Virginia and Maryland areas have embraced the race like they have. I’m looking forward to getting back there again. We were second last year, and obviously that one is high on my list of ones I want to win.

(On the track) “It’s a good street track. I was pretty impressed the first year when they came with a brand new track. It’s tough to fit it in an area like the Inner Harbor where they want to have the race. There are some good passing spots with some sections that bumpy, some that are smooth. There are fast sections, slow stuff and hairpins… it’s challenging and fun for the drivers and makes for a good race track.

“There are bits and pieces that are challenging in their own right. Turn 1 is tough because the street has not been repaved or resurfaced at all. You’re kind of going uphill then down a little, and it’s a super-tight right-hander that is a great passing spot. It’s tough to squeeze the last couple of tenths out of the car there. It’s tougher when you’re offline because it’s so dirty. The last sweeping left- and right-hander before you come back on to Pratt Street is difficult because those are extremely quick corners for a street track. There is no margin for area. I’ve tried to push and find some more speed but you can get loose easily, and that’s a pretty scary moment.”

DOUG FEHAN, CORVETTE RACING PROGRAM MANAGER

“As difficult as road racing can be, nothing compares to the intensity of a battle on the streets of a major urban center. This time it will be the Inner Harbor of the great city of Baltimore. To be successful here, it takes the perfect balance of patience and aggression on the part of the drivers along with an effective race strategy and finished off with flawless execution by the crew guys in pit lane.  With only four rounds to go in the ALMS season, every lap and every stop will play a vital role in retaining our ALMS manufacturers’ championship. With nine of those titles under our belt, you can bet we are ready to capture number 10.”

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Podium and points give Olly championship lead after Road America

Olly, Tommy and Doug Fehan receiving the Michelin Green X Challenge trophy

Oliver Gavin’s third place finish at today’s Orion Energy 245 at Road America not only gave he and his Corvette Racing team mate Tommy Milner their third podium from the six races of the 2013 ALMS season to date, but it also rewarded them with enough points to regain the lead of the GT Drivers’ points classification.  The GT race was won by the #91 Viper of Dominik Farnbacher and Mark Goossens and the #3 Corvette of Jan Magnussen and Antonio Garcia was second.

After Olly qualified in third place on the GT grid, the start was taken by Tommy in the No.4 Corvette C6.R.  The track had been soaked by a persistent rain shower for the two hours prior to the race start, and there was considerable spray and jostling for position as the 33-strong field set off.

After stopping for fuel under the first of the four full course caution periods, and slick tyres just a few laps later as the track was rapidly drying, Tommy continued to circulate and try to make up lost ground until he came into the pits to hand over to Olly at the 1 hour 30 minute mark.  What happened then was a defining point in the duo’s race, as Olly explains.

“When we came in for our third pit stop and the driver change we were in 8th place (in GT).  We left the pits in 3rd so I can’t really say I’m disappointed with the result at all as it was a spectacular job by the guys.

“I managed to get past the Ferrari at the re-start – there was a little bit of rubbing and contact – and then the #91 Viper was coming up on me really fast.  We knew it was going to be really close between them and us but they had a lot of straight line speed and we also had to factor in saving fuel and trying to get to the end.

“The whole time through that last 45 minutes we were trying to save fuel but maintain our position in a big train of cars.  The Viper got me and was then onto Antonio but it was all going to be down to fuel.  The final safety car period came out with about ten minutes to go and to be honest it was a real disappointment as I’d worked so hard to save the fuel and stay in the race and we were right there, we would have made it.  The Viper was apparently on fuel reserve on the final lap even with the safety car – it was very close for many of us but I think we had enough to do it and we could have possibly won.

“I’m thrilled to be back in the points lead though and to follow up our win in Canada with another podium.  Now we look towards Baltimore which is always fun – more street fighting to stay at the top!”

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Second row of GT grid for Olly in Road America

Road America 2012

Corvette Racing’s Oliver Gavin today qualified the No.4 Corvette C6.R on the second row of the GT grid for tomorrow’s 6th round of the American Le Mans Series at the popular and scenic Road America track in Wisconsin.

It was once again another super-tight 15-minute session – at least from second place down to 10th, with the SRT Viper of Jonathan Bomarito being ahead of the rest of the field by 0.7 seconds.  This is the same amount of time which separated the next nine cars …

Olly completed five laps and set his fastest time on the third of those.  He felt there was a little more to come, however, as he explains here:  “I got a pretty good lap but felt I hadn’t quite got the most out of the car through turns 5, 6 and 8 so I was just trying to get that last little bit out of the car on the next lap.

“I just locked up the rear tyres coming into turns 5 and 6 and nearly lost the car completely in turn 6 but knew I was up on what I’d done previously so it’s somewhat frustrating that I made a mistake there, made a bit of a mess of it.  I feel confident I could have got that bit closer to the front and got second place.  Congratulations though to Antonio [Garcia, in the No.3 Corvette] who is on the front row with the Viper.

“As always in qualifying there are lots of ifs, buts and maybes but I’m pleased to be on the second row.  Certainly after practice yesterday, looking at the pace of the BMWs and the Vipers, I thought that we might get be lucky to get second row at best in qualifying and more likely the third row.” 

Olly predicts that the battle between Corvette, Ferrari, BMW and probably the Porsches will be a tight one but is confident that the No.4 will be right up there on race pace.  “I think the Viper looks like it’s in another league here at the moment,” he reflected.  “We’ve got to see how the race pans out.  We managed to beat them last time out due to pit stops and strategy but it’s not easy to pass at Mosport and you can here so I think their straight line speed will get them out of any trouble and by people.

“A lot can happen but right now if you had to put a name on a winner for tomorrow you’d say the Vipers will be there.  We’ll be fighting and battling as always and I know I’ve got the best team in the pit lane for strategy and pit stops.  Tommy will start and I’ll finish – it’s going to be close and exciting for sure.”

The 2 hour 45 minute race starts at 2pm ET tomorrow and can be viewed live on ABC from 3pm in the USA or on www.alms.com or on Motors TV in Europe.

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Let’s hear it for Olly!!

Let’s hear it for Oliver Gavin!

Driving the No. 4 Compuware Corvette C6.R for Corvette Racing, he is the only driver to race in each of the previous 11 American Le Mans Series races at Road America. His tally:- 3 victories, 4 pole positions and 4 fastest race laps in class.

He and Tommy Milner look for their 3rd ALMS win on Sunday. Watch live on ABC at 3pm ET or on www.alms.com!

 

With thanks to Corvette Racing.

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Looking ahead to Road America

This coming weekend sees the ALMS visit a track that is favourite for almost every driver – Road America at Elkhart Lake in Wisconsin – and Oliver Gavin is no exception.  The 6th round of the series is one of only two races this year to take place on a Sunday (last race in Canada being the other) and the weekend’s track activities will be shared with the Grand Am Rolex Series…a good chance for each to view the other up close and personal before the two are combined for 2014!

Olly has won multiple times at the track in the past, but not in Corvette Racing’s GT era so will be looking to maintain the momentum from the previous round and finish at the front of what is sure to be yet another super-tight battle.  He and Tommy Milner are currently second in the GT drivers’ points classification and both are keen to consolidate that position with a good result.

A GT lap around the 4.05 mile track takes approximately 2m4s and the busy schedule means that there will be just two one-hour practice sessions on Friday, 15-minutes of qualifying on Saturday morning followed by the race on Sunday afternoon.  Track time and the chase for a good set up will be at a premium for everyone.

Olly explains here about the track and why it is one of his favourites in North America.

“You’ve always got this race track that’s fast, flowing and has a great feel to it. It has a lot of what everyone likes in a track – a decent amount of grip, some decent straights, some good braking zones, some opportunities to overtake and places where you can tow up behind people. You also have a couple of quick corners that you can really get into and which take some guts to go through. It’s great to see how the track evolves through the weekend and picks up grip through the race. This might influence the way you set your car up, to take advantage of that grip at the end.

“We’ve gone through different lengths of races at Road America:  two hours and 45 minutes, four hours, six hours. Whatever length of race there suits me perfectly; I’d like to do 24 hours there because it’s the type of place where you could drive all day and get a huge amount of satisfaction.

“Someone said to me a few years ago, ‘It’s all 90-degree bends. Where’s the challenge in it?’ And when you look at it, there are a few but they are all really different. Whether it’s in the length of them, the way they come off certain gradients, whether they are slightly banked or whether they are the crest of a hill, they are all very different in the way they are laid out and have their own unique challenges. It’s far more than just a circuit with a number of 90-degree bends. I really like the place, it’s fantastic.”

Practice begins on Friday at 11:50 am ET and can be followed via the ALMS website.

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Narrow GT win for Olly and Tommy at CTMP!

Just 0.267 seconds between them at the flag!

Oliver Gavin and Tommy Milner returned to the top step of the American Le Mans Series GT podium this afternoon, winning the fifth round of the series at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in their No.4 Corvette C6.R by just 0.267 seconds over the No. 91 SRT Motorsports SRT Viper GTS-R of Farnbacher and Goossens.

It is Olly’s second win of the year (following the 12 Hours of Sebring), and provided a much needed boost to his championship position following a disappointing past few races.  The British Corvette Racing driver, together with his 2012 championship-winning team mate Tommy Milner, is now second in the GT points’ standings and only 5 points behind BMW’s Dirk Müller.

Olly started the 2 hour 45 minute race this afternoon from 6th position on the grid after a difficult qualifying session yesterday, but he and Tommy were confident that certain changes they’d made to the car would give them an advantage in the race.  He made an excellent start and got past both BMWs ahead of him on the first lap and then set about catching the No.93 Viper.  As the silver SRT cars’ tyres started to deteriorate, Olly seized his chance and got the class lead after 56 minutes of racing.

Olly explains about the set up strategy he and Tommy worked on with their engineer, Chuck Houghton:  “We focused on getting the corner onto the back straight right and we were fastest in that sector in Friday’s practice.  We made a change to the setup which we were confident would give us the speed in that particular part of the track as we knew that, if we got ahead at that point, our opponents wouldn’t be able to catch us.  That’s how it turned out today.”

The only slight drama in Olly’s race – apart from the tension caused by the close finish – was when he came into the pits slightly earlier than originally planned as an electronic glitch indicated he should pit for fuel immediately.  While his team mate was fully kitted up, he wasn’t at the door of the car as Olly got out (at the 1h05m mark) which caused Olly some concern!  Fortunately no significant time was lost and the team did a great job to get the No.4 Corvette out of the pits ahead of the leading Viper.  Milner, despite having his mirror full of the silver cars right to the chequered flag, never gave into the pressure and brought the yellow Vette home to the win.

“It was a great result today,” said a delighted Olly who has been suffering from a heavy cold this week.  “It all fell into place and Tommy did a fantastic job to hold them off.  The Vipers were very strong here in Canada as they have a lot of power at their disposal and their team has worked hard to generate excellent downforce.  It’s great to see them challenging us, the BMWs and others as it keeps the topsy turvy nature of the GT races alive – this was definitely the race of the afternoon, and I’m really, really pleased it turned out the way it did!”

 

 

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Qualifying frustrations for both Corvettes at CTMP

Racing at Mosport in 2012, CTMP in 2013!

With thanks to Corvette Racing for use of the information within their release, here are Olly and the team’s comments after qualifying at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park.

As Corvette Racing’s Oliver Gavin has found out to his detriment (2008), Canadian Tire Motorsport Park (formerly known as Mosport) can catch you out when you least expect it.  While Olly and his team mate, Tommy Milner, could count themselves lucky not to have been the subject of the qualifying incident for the 5th round of the ALMS this afternoon, they were immediately concerned to see their team mate Jan Magnussen in the #3 Corvette c6.R have a significant crash less than 5 minutes before the end of the session.

As it turned out, the Dane had set the second-fastest lap in GT qualifying for the Mobil 1 SportsCar Grand Prix before he exited the track hard at Turn 3.  Upon its return to the paddock, the Corvette crew went straight to work to dismantle and repair the car.

The Dane’s best time was a 1:15.60, set on his fifth lap. With pole position in his sights, Magnussen was on a flyer before a small bump in the middle of the third corner caused the Corvette to unsettle and veer slightly wide at the exit. The left-rear tyre went off the surface just enough to send Magnussen into a spin and hard into the outside tyre barrier.

The car will start Sunday’s race from the rear of the grid and is expected to make the morning warm up at 9:10 a.m.

Tommy Milner qualified the No. 4 Compuware Corvette sixth in class at 1:16.083. Despite the position, Milner was only 0.621 seconds off pole position. The car struggled to find balance in the second practice session and qualifying but Milner believed the fix would be an easy adjustment for Sunday’s race. He and teammate Oliver Gavin – defending ALMS GT champions – will go for their second ALMS victory of the season.

“Tommy and Jan both had solid qualifying efforts,” said Doug Fehan, Corvette Racing Program Manager. “Jan’s crash was unfortunate. He was on a good lap, but we were reminded how quickly this track can come up and bite anyone. The entire Corvette Racing team is an experienced and resilient group and will work as long as it takes to get the car repaired and ready for Sunday. It’s that ‘never give up’ spirit that we all exude.”

JAN MAGNUSSEN, NO. 3 COMPUWARE CORVETTE C6.R

“One of the things I love about this place is that there is a real consequence to making mistakes or pushing too hard. We were just a tenth back from pole and this was an attempt to get it. I still think (the pole time) was in the car but I just bounced in the middle of Turn 3 over a small bump and that put me a little bit off line at the exit. A wheel off into the grass and that was it. I was off into the tire wall. I feel sorry for the team. For sure you try to avoid these things but sometimes they happen. When you hit the tire wall at an angle, it tends to rip things off the car. It will be a bit of work for the guys but the car was awesome in qualifying and I believe the pole time was in it. That’s why I went for it. The car will be perfect for the race.”

TOMMY MILNER, NO. 4 COMPUWARE CORVETTE C6.R

“In the previous practice we struggled with the balance of the car and that carried over into qualifying. We’re not way off by any means. The GT field is so close that you have to have a great car, and we have that. It’s a bummer. This was my first qualifying run in awhile and had the issue with balance. We had a bit too much understeer and need to dial some of that out of the car. But we have a direction to go and we’re not lost by any means. We will make some small changes here and there and be ready for tomorrow. We should be in good shape for the race.”

Olly also commented afterwards:  “There were really changeable weather conditions during qualifying.  It was very windy and that was sending mixed messages to us as to what we should do with the car, and I think we sort of went down the wrong path with the set up of the car.

“Tommy did a great job with qualifying no matter what, and tomorrow will bring another day and another set of conundrums to solve.  It’s all to play for, and we’re right there as key players!”

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