Category Archives: American Le Mans Series

New horizons beckon at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park

Olly this week heads back over the Atlantic to north of the US border for his annual visit to Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, formerly known as Mosport. The Mobil 1 SportsCar Grand Prix – a race Corvette Racing has won nine times since 2001 – takes place on Sunday 21st July, one of only two ALMS races not to be held on a Saturday.

In 2012 the #4 went from 2nd to 11th after a transmission problem early in the race

The 2.459-mile, 10-turn road course is one of the fastest in the ALMS and a favourite of all four drivers. The layout features a variety of high-speed corners and daunting elevation changes, and there will be a new look to the facilities this year which, like everyone else, Olly is eager to see.

The facility – now co-owned by former Corvette Racing star Ron Fellows – saw improvements to the entry tunnel (enlarged to twice its original size), paddock and sightlines in 2012. In the last 12 months, the track underwent more dramatic renovations with the additions of a pitlane extension of 300 feet, a state-of-the-art event center, new asphalt at every corner and paved runoff areas at turns 1 and 2 to improve safety.

A new, wider entry tunnel is just one of the many improvements

Olly, who will be arriving in Bowmanville, east of Toronto, directly from a final C7 seat fit at Pratt & Miller’s shop in Detroit, adds:  “It’s exciting to go back to Canada and it’s a circuit we all look forward to in the season.  The racing there is usually very close, and the outcome can be a nail-biter!  Our cars have traditionally done well there as the nature of the track suits the Corvette pretty well.

“The track itself will be similar to past years, but the landmarks and cues you’d use to guide your way around the track – the stuff you pick up in your peripheral vision that all drivers learn – has changed because the runoff and places that were grass have gone to tarmac.

“There is a new pitlane with a different entry. All of that part of the track is different and will take a little bit of re-learning. It will be challenging but interesting at the same time.  Ron is a big proponent of safety, and he’s worked at it very hard. You’re going at such a high speed and only have so much road to work with. Any slip up there can lead you into having a big moment as many have seen in the past.

“Tommy and I are going to be focusing on straight-forward racing and a strong strategy with no issues or problems so we can get back onto the podium.  We know we have the best team in the pit lane and Tommy is a fantastic partner in the car – we proved it to everyone last year by winning the championship and I’m keen to put the difficulties of our last few races behind us and get back to where we were at Sebring!”

The 2h 45 minute race starts at 12 noon and will be broadcast live on ESPN2 on Sunday, July 21 from 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm ET, LIVE on ESPN3 and ALMS.com from 11:45 am – 3:00 pm ET, and LIVE on Motors TV internationally.

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GT frustrations hamper charge at Lime Rock

Hot and steamy Lime Rock

Oliver and Tommy endured a trying race at Lime Rock Park in Connecticut, and battled against a number of setbacks to take 6th place in the GT class at the conclusion of the 2 hour 45 minute fourth round of the American Le Mans Series.

Starting from third place on the grid, the defending ALMS GT champions encountered misfortune early on when Tommy Milner was the victim of unwanted attention from a fellow competitor which resulted in damage requiring an unscheduled pitstop.  Olly explains what happened:

“Right from Turn 1 it was never really going to be our day.  There was some contact going into the first corner, Tommy was getting squeezed and he had to get out of it otherwise he’d have spun the #62 Ferrari around.  He lost a wing mirror because of that and the regulations are that you have to run with two mirrors so we had to make a stop to fix that and that put us behind some slower traffic.  Once that happened it was effectively impossible to get by because the circuit is narrow, short and tight and difficult to pass on.  We also don’t have the straight line speed to get by some of the other cars.

“We ended up being passed by the lead BMW and going a lap down and from then on we were always playing catch up, trying to find ways to get back on the lead lap.  We had a bad stop when I got in the car; the data cable somehow didn’t detach and I left the pits with it in which we got a penalty for.

“Then PC cars were hitting me!  It was very fraught on the track, the traffic was the worst I’ve ever seen here – the desperation in some people’s moves was pretty extraordinary. It was a very, very hot day which didn’t help and I think some people were making some pretty rash moves.

“For us to salvage 6th place out of it was good as it could have been a lot worse.  We now need to go onto the next few races and have some solid results, get back on the podium and in the winners’ circle.  We’ve had a couple of bad races where things haven’t run well for us but it happens; it’s frustrating and difficult but everybody has them. In a season which is as competitive as this one, everyone’s going to have a couple of rough races and we’ve just had ours now.  We’ve got to get back to running at the front and get good results.

“I’m really looking forward to getting to Canadian Tire Motorsport Park – best known to us all as Mosport.  I love it there and there have been some major changes there since last year so we’re all looking forward to seeing them.  I’m not sure whether the track will drive any differently; it’s a fast, flowing and challenging track and it does seem to suit our car and team.  To go from here to there is a breath of fresh air.”

The ALMS and Olly now head for Bowmanville, east of Toronto in Canada, for the 2h 45 minute fifth round on Sunday 21st July.

 

 

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The heat is on at Lime Rock Park

It was hot work for everyone today at Lime Rock Park

Heat was a big topic today at Lime Rock Park, the scene of practice and qualifying sessions in preparation for tomorrow’s North East Grand Prix, round 4 of the American Le Mans Series.

For Corvette Racing’s Oliver Gavin it was crucial as the team battled to repair a malfunctioning air conditioning system in the cockpit of his No.4 Corvette C6.R before this afternoon’s 15-minute qualifying session.  With ambient temperatures of 94oF, cooling was a necessity for optimum performance rather than a luxury.

As always, the Corvette Racing crew came through and Olly was able to tackle qualifying with a cool head.  His fastest lap of 51.490 seconds around the 1.47 mile track in Lakeville, Connecticut, puts him third on the GT grid, half a second behind the pole-sitting BMW of John Edwards.

Olly felt that he had got the best out of the car today and that the team had prepared a good race car, but was nevertheless a bit frustrated with not being able to challenge for pole position.

“We found a bit more speed from the practices, and you always push harder in qualifying. I managed to stick a reasonable lap together, and we made a few adjustments with the car that helped us find a little bit more.

“It’s always a delicate balance here. There is not a huge amount of grip and you’re all the time seesawing from the rear of the car being too loose to the front of the car being too pushy. You try to massage that balance between the two because one end is always breaking free. Very rarely will you get a car that’s really balanced which will let you attack every corner with no fear.

“We got pretty close today but really there seems to be two races going on: the BMW is in a class of its own and then there’s the rest of us.  We know how much speed they can carry in medium and high speed corners at a downforce track, but half a second around this track is a huge amount when you look at how close everyone else it.  There were signals earlier when, as everyone else slowed up because it was hotter, they could still do the same time.  The alarm bells started ringing!

“I think it will come down to the last 20 minutes of the race as to who remains the coolest in the car and, now we’ve fixed ours, I think we’re in with a shot.  Tommy will be starting tomorrow and then it will be me although we’re not sure how many pit stops we’ll have to do.  It’s likely to be as warm again tomorrow…we’re getting ready for some hot action.”

 

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Back in the USA for 4th July weekend!

Here’s Corvette Racing’s preview for you to enjoy.

Close racing is expected, as in 2012

Two weeks after both its Compuware Corvette C6.R race cars completed the Le Mans 24 Hours, Corvette Racing returns stateside to continue defense of its GT driver, team and manufacturer championships in the American Le Mans Series. Next up is scenic Lime Rock Park and the American Le Mans Northeast Grand Prix on Saturday, July 6.

At 1.474 miles with seven turns, Lime Rock Park is the shortest track on the ALMS calendar but offers a surprisingly quick lap with average speeds in qualifying nearing 105 mph. The compact nature of the venue coupled with the two-hour, 45-minute race length means constant overtaking and frequent car-to-car contact.

Antonio Garcia and Jan Magnussen return to ALMS competition as the most recent winners in the GT class at Laguna Seca in May. The pairing – fourth in GTE Pro at Le Mans with Jordan Taylor – drive the No. 3 Compuware Corvette C6.R.

Oliver Gavin and Tommy Milner share the No. 4 Compuware Corvette. The defending ALMS GT champions – seventh with Richard Westbrook at Le Mans – stand second in this year’s drivers’ standings and are three points out of first. Magnussen and Garcia are fifth but just 12 points from the lead. The Lime Rock round pays 20 points to the race-winners, 16 for second and 13 for third.

Corvette Racing leads the team standings, as does Chevrolet the manufacturers’ race.

“Le Mans was as challenging as ever. We battled the weather as well as the competition and I can tell you we are glad to get back to racing in the ALMS,” said Doug Fehan, Corvette Racing Program Manager. “The crowd is always great at Lime Rock, and the racing is as tough as anywhere else we compete the rest of the season. At just 1.5 miles in length, Lime Rock presents some unique challenges. You can’t make a green flag pit stop without losing a lap, so your strategy there will most likely determine your level of success. Our guys thrive on that pressure and are ready to go racing again.”

Lime Rock: Watch It!

Friday, July 5-Saturday, July 6 (all times ET)

  • Qualifying: 4:25 p.m., Friday, July 5 (ESPN3)
  • Race (TV): 3 p.m., Saturday, July 6 (ESPN2)
  • Web: 2:45 p.m., Saturday, July 6 (ESPN3)

Coverage in the UK will be on Motors TV and via www.americanlemans.com

Corvette Racing at Lime Rock

Year Class Drivers Result Car Notes
2004 GTS Fellows/O’Connell
Beretta/Gavin
2nd
1st
Corvette C5-R Beretta pole,
fastest race lap
2005 GT1 Fellows/O’Connell
Beretta/Gavin
2nd
1st
Corvette C6.R Beretta pole,
fastest race lap
2006 GT1 Fellows/O’Connell
Beretta/Gavin
2nd
4th
Corvette C6.R Beretta fastest race lap
2007 GT1 Magnussen/O’Connell
Beretta/Gavin
2nd
1st
Corvette C6.R O’Connell fastest race lap
2008 GT1 Magnussen/O’Connell
Beretta/Gavin
1st
2nd
Corvette C6.R Gavin pole, Beretta fastest race lap
2010 GT Magnussen/O’Connell
Beretta/Gavin
12th
5th
Corvette C6.R  
2011 GT Beretta/Milner
Gavin/Magnussen
9th
10th
Corvette C6.R  
2012 GT Garcia/Magnussen
Gavin/Milner
2nd
3rd
Corvette C6.R  

ANTONIO GARCIA, NO. 3 COMPUWARE CORVETTE C6.R

“Because it is such a short track, everything has to run really, really smooth. It is easy to lose time and get in a position that conflicts with your strategy. You must run the whole race full-on and 100 percent. Knowing we ran a perfect race at Laguna – and I have to say we almost ran a perfect race at Le Mans – we need a repeat to be successful at Lime Rock. Our crew is running at its best and is pumped in the job they have done. We have to be consistent and not make any mistakes. That is what it takes every race to win in the GT class.”

JAN MAGNUSSEN, NO. 3 COMPUWARE CORVETTE C6.R

“I enjoy driving at Lime Rock. It’s a very short lap and the penalty for making a mistake can be quite big. Lime Rock is a fun track with interesting corners and is very, very old-school. In the past we have done quite well there but it has been awhile since we have won a race there but maybe that means we are due. It will be a case of us trying to have another race like Laguna Seca where we were almost perfect. With the competition being as equal and difficult as it has been in the first three ALMS races, it will take a perfect race with perfect pit stops and a good-handling race car. We know we have that and need to execute on race day.”

OLIVER GAVIN, NO. 4 COMPUWARE CORVETTE C6.R

“At Le Mans, you have 55 cars on a long track. At Lime Rock, you feel like you have 200 cars because there is no place for you to run off and hide. You can’t get a nice little piece of tarmac to run around by yourself for two hours and 45 minutes. It’s one of those places where you can never let your guard down even for a millisecond. You’re either on top of someone else or someone is coming to overtake you. You have to have eyes in the back of your head to deal with the traffic situation. The likes of someone like Brian (Hoye, No. 4 crew chief) spotting for us it critical too. There are people coming from every which way, not to mention incidents that may be developing in front.”

TOMMY MILNER, NO. 4 COMPUWARE CORVETTE C6.R

“Le Mans wasn’t a great race for us. It was frustrating on many levels. But coming back to the U.S., I think we’ll be on par and pace with our competitors. Once we get back going again at Lime Rock, we will be right in the thick of things again. Our focus turns back to our duties here in the ALMS and putting Le Mans behind us. Lime Rock is tough both physically and mentally. There are no breaks; you’re always working. I’ve had tough races there where I’ve driven two hours in the car with high heat humidity and had to work hard to survive there. It’s one of those races that you know what to expect – hot, humid and tough.”

 

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Gear shift problem prevents Laguna victory repeat

A repeat of Oliver Gavin and Tommy Milner’s 2012 victory at today’s third round of the 2013 American Le Mans Series was thwarted by a transmission issue which delayed the duo’s Corvette C6.4 by six laps.  They finished the four-hour race at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in 9th place but problems for the second-placed Porsche in post-race technical checks saw their points taken from them so Olly gained a valuable 5 points towards the title chase.

Olly started the race – which featured seven full course caution periods – from third on the GT grid but recalls that it was a crazy event from start to finish.  “The start was particularly crazy, and I was being pushed into the pit wall even before the start finish line by the No.23 Ferrari.  As I was being driven straight towards the pit wall I decided to brake to not go into the flag stand!”

The Briton continues:  “From about the fifth or sixth lap of the race we had a gearshift problem which turned out to be a cracked hose on the shift system.  After about 100 minutes into the race the car got stuck in 6th gear on the front straight but fortunately a caution had just come out so I followed the safety car for a lap.  At that lower speed though I was almost stalling the car so we had to pit while the pits were closed and got it somewhat fixed.  After our driver change Tommy went out again but the temporary fix hadn’t held and we had to re-pit for a new fitting.

“By that stage we’d lost more laps and it was a great shame as the car was good today and there wasn’t much between us and the No.3 car which went on to win.  It’s really fantastic for them – after being so close so many times last year they’ve got the monkey off their back and got the victory the whole team deserves.”

Oliver’s focus now turns 100% towards the 24 Hours of Le Mans in France and he’ll be off there for the official test weekend on the 8/9th June, with the race being 22nd/23rd June.

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All to play for at Laguna Seca tomorrow

In the 15-minute qualifying session this afternoon at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, Oliver set the fourth quickest lap of the session in his No.4 Corvette C6.R and was due to line up behind the pole-winning Risi Ferrari and two Porsches.  However, the Core Autosport Porsche which was due to start on the front row failed its post-session tech inspection and Olly and his team mate Tommy Milner will now start tomorrow’s four-hour race, round three of the 2013 American Le Mans Series, in third place.

Olly’s best time of 1:22.924 was only two hundredths of a second behind the Falken Porsche – a measure of just how close the ALMS GT category remains.  With Milner, the British driver won the GT class in last year’s event at Laguna Seca, finishing 3.45 seconds ahead of the No. 3 Corvette C6.R, driven by Antonio Garcia and Jan Magnussen.

“Where we are right now with the car with the weight we have got on and everything else, I think we are pretty much maxed-out,” said Olly. “For a four race it’s a pretty decent spot and we know that plenty can happen.  Last year we proved that we could win races from wherever you are on the grid – fourth, fifth, seventh, no matter where – and we didn’t have to be on pole.

“I was quite surprised to see the cars in front of us – not necessarily the Risi Ferrari as we know that’s fast – but Core Autosport has come out quickly with their brand new Porsche and the Falken car has worked extremely well on the slower speed circuits where it’s not quite so warm.  Porsches have traditionally been good here.

“The temperature hasn’t been so great for us but we’re pretty happy with our balance and the race is long so strategy will be important.  We know there’s still plenty of potential for a good result.  It’s difficult to see or know what the temperature is going to be tomorrow as the marine layer keeps coming over and the sun keeps going in and out;, temperatures are yo-yoing up and down.  Just trying to get the right tire choice and pressures right is going to be tricky, but someone is really going to hit it right tomorrow and end up winning.

“We’ve had a pretty good direction on set up from last year and we haven’t had to chase it wildly but we’ve been adjusting the car throughout every session.  With the changing temperatures, it’s a bit of a moving target here.  In qualifying all the GT cars have generally good drivers and you didn’t have a load of people dropping wheels off and dragging sand onto the track, taking weird lines.  Everyone was pretty disciplined and good so that was satisfying and pleasing.  We’re really looking forward to tomorrow.”

 

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Looking forward to some good endurance racing at Laguna!

Corvette Racing’s Oliver Gavin is en route to California for the second time in a month with the aim of taking his second win from three races at the four-hour American Le Mans Series Monterey at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca on May 9-11, round three of the ALMS.  The Briton will once again be taking his Corvette C6.R into the thick of an intense, and no doubt thrilling, GT battle, the last race in the USA before the team head to Europe to compete in the world’s biggest sportscar race, the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Here, the Yardley Hastings, Northamptonshire (UK), resident gives his views on the weekend ahead:

QDo you think the nature of the Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca track will even up, or accentuate, the power advantage that GT competitors such as the Vipers appear to have? 

A:  I think it could even up that power advantage as Laguna has a low top speed relative to somewhere like Road America; it’s not necessarily a power track.  There are some corners which, if you have a torquey engine like the Vipers do, you can punch out of, but it’s not an out-and-out horsepower track and that will suit us well.

Q:    How does the longer race allow you to vary your strategy, and do you think this will play into your hands?

A:  I think the longer race format is going to play into our hands.  We have performed well over the longer races recently and I really feel we have got the best team.  We regularly make up time on people in the pits, either with quick tire changes, how we play our fuel strategy or the strategy in general:  we’ve got a great group of guys. These races are so tight it sometimes comes down to when you take your last stop and how much fuel you take on and, with a longer race, you’ve got a far wider strategy window to play with. We’re, of course, not the only ones who are good at that side – BMW and Rahal Letterman Racing has always been very strong on strategy – but everyone is improving and it’s going to be close.

Q:  Can you tell who your main rivals will be or is it too close to call?

A:  It’s honestly too close to call for this race.  Porsche has always been good there and the new Core Autosport entry can’t be underestimated.  Whether they have everything together yet to compete at the same level as everyone else, I don’t know but they will be quick.  Ferrari has traditionally been good at Laguna, and Falken has been improving race on race, so it’s difficult to pin point who is going to be our main rivals.

Q:  What track conditions can you expect for the race weekend?

A:  Looking at the forecast, it looks as though it could be quite cool (low 60s) so how well you make your tires work could steer the outcome of the race; they will certainly play a big part in the weekend. There’s likely to be plenty of cautions and incidents with 36 plus cars in the field, it makes for a full race track.  Additionally the track surface is always very dusty which adds to the challenges.  The GT class drives round in a high speed train and it only really gets broken up when there’s an incident, or when you come against faster or slower traffic.   You have to be 100% on top of your game and concentrating fully; you can’t afford one slip up otherwise you won’t finish in the top five let alone on the podium.

 

 

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Street fighting talk at Long Beach

Oliver drove the No.4 Corvette C6R to a fourth place finish at Long Beach this evening after a tough race through the concrete barriers that define this narrow and punishing street course.  The result offered enough points to allow Oliver and his team mate Tommy Milner to maintain their place at the top of the American Le Mans Series GT Drivers’ standings, albeit now tied with BMW’s Bill Auberlen and Maxime Martin.

The pair, who won the opening round of the final ALMS season, the 12 Hours of Sebring, endured a tough day in California but overcame a pit stop delay, avoided the bumping and banging of the super-tight competition, and worked their strategy within the three full course caution periods which fell within the first of the two-hour race.  The pace of the car was not in question, as witnessed by the fact that Olly set a new fastest GT race lap record!

Olly acknowledged that, in light of the above, things turned out better than expected.  “As it turned out fourth was a good finish for us and I think that, when we look back, to have got those points and still lead the championship, it could have been a lot worse.  We made a different tyre choice to our competitors, and we could have got collected in quite a few different incidents through the race, but we managed to keep our nose clean and walked away with an unscathed car.  We can now move on to Laguna still in good shape.”

An errant wheel gun delayed the No.4 in the pits, but Olly was full of praise for his Milner’s contribution to the result.  “Tommy drove well again today, used his head and didn’t get into any incidents, handing the car over in a good spot.  We were looking very good at that pit stop where we changed over, and we were very quick with the seat belts and so on, but unfortunately we had an issue with the right front gun.  It got stuck on the wheel and then the steering got pulled to one side, the steering wheel got spun round and I couldn’t get the steering wheel on the column because it was out of position.”

The tall Briton, current GT Drivers’ Champion, feels that the Corvette has the potential to win another championship but it will need some luck along the way.  “I think we have the package to compete and fight with everybody for the championship. When we got out of the pits we had to salvage what we could and thought we’d have to settle for fifth. I was following Jan down into Turn One with maybe 20 minutes to go and he had a huge moment, locked the right front and then the rears, and I don’t know how he managed to keep the car out of the wall but he did.  I managed to sneak by and got the 4th place but both of us by that stage were beginning to struggle with our tires.

“It’s going to be a very, very competitive season and I think everybody will be taking points off one another and plenty of different winners. Roll on Laguna for another shot at victory!”

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Dreaming of another California victory at Long Beach

The scenic streets of Long Beach

Round two of the 2013 American Le Mans Series moves, as is tradition, to the sunny shores of California for the Tequila Patron American Le Mans Series at Long Beach.

The 1.968 mile, 11-turn temporary street course proved to be a happy hunting ground for Corvette Racing’s Oliver Gavin and Tommy Milner in 2012 as it was the scene of the first of the four victories which culminated in them winning the 2012 GT Drivers Championship.  The Californian result also marked the third victory for the British driver at Long Beach in six appearances – a happy hunting ground indeed.

From Sebring’s 12-hour enduro, the 34-strong field now has to adapt to limited track time and a two-hour race which takes place on Saturday at 4:30 pm (PT).  We asked Olly what his thoughts were on the Long Beach race:

Q:  Last year’s result kick-started your winning season – what are your memories of that Long Beach event?

A: Long Beach was the start of the run to the Championship for Tommy and me.  As you so often have to be on street races, we were a little lucky in that the two cars in front of us on the grid had issues on the fourth corner of the race and their race was compromised from there on.  We still had to battle our way from then on to the front but our car was good straight off and that was a big plus point.

Q:  With a great track record at Long Beach you obviously enjoy it there.  Why?

A:  It’s a challenging track but our car seems to always come off the truck quick there – by that I mean it’s good to drive on the Long Beach track from the word go.  We have very limited track time here – just 2 hours practice before going straight into qualifying – so that’s a huge bonus for us.  Our 2013 updates seemed to work very well at Sebring and will undoubtedly help us this year, although Long Beach success is a constantly moving target.

Q:  Who do you think your toughest opposition will be at Long Beach?

A:  I think the BMWs will be a bit of the unknown there – at certain parts of the Sebring track they were very fast – and the Vipers also have very good straight line speed and punch off the corners well.  They (the Vipers) don’t seem as nimble as the Ferrari, for example, at times and that might play against them.

Q:  What’s the secret to a quick lap at Long Beach?

A:  The most important corner on the track is the last one and getting off that corner well is vital for lap time and opportunities to overtake other cars.  If you can get into someone’s tow on the straight it’s the best chance you get to pass others going into Turn 1.  Street tracks are always a bit of a lottery, but if you are able to switch on your tyres fast, ride the bumps easily and go through and off the corners well, you’ve got a good chance to be fast.  As always with this type of course, there’s a mix of slow and medium speed corners and you have to work on direction change and traction as well as braking – as good as it is to go fast, you have to have the confidence to stop fast as well!

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12 Hours Sebring: What a win, what a start to 2013!!

Olly, Tommy and Richard have got that winning feeling!!

Olly gave his 2013 American Le Mans Season the best possible start this weekend by winning the 12 Hours of Sebring with team mates Tommy Milner and Richard Westbrook.   The victory in his No.4 Corvette C6.R was his fifth at the famous Florida track, the last being in 2007, and was all the more savoured as it had been a roller-coaster event which forced Olly and the team to come back from adversity not once, but twice.

An overjoyed Oliver said afterwards:  “It means an awful lot to win here, coming off the back of last year’s championship, which was a fantastic year for everyone at Corvette Racing, especially as we missed out on the ‘big ones’ in 2012.  It didn’t go right for us at Sebring, Le Mans or Petit Le Mans  so there was a lot of focus on this year’s race.  It was incredibly hard racing from start to finish and that makes the win even better as well.”

Current ALMS GT Drivers Champion, Olly, qualified second in the super-competitive GT class behind the pole-setting Risi Ferrari of Gimmi Bruni and took the start of the 61st edition of the race.  The Briton made a superb start as the green flag dropped and not only got into the lead but went on to pull out a substantial gap to his rivals.  The No.4 maintained that lead for most of the first 80 laps of the race until the first of the setbacks occurred while Richard Westbrook was at the wheel.

Olly explains what happens:  “Richard said it was like an indoor firework going off!  There was a small electrical fire behind the dashboard in the car due to a wiring issue but fortunately Richard was at Turn 17 when it happened so he quickly peeled off into the pits.  Unfortunately the damage had already knocked out the pit lane speed limiter and we ended up not only losing a bit of time for repairs but we had to serve a penalty for the pit lane speeding.”

Luckily the quick thinking of one of Corvette’s mechanics prevented the damage from being greater, and it meant the drivers were soon back on track trying to bring themselves back into contention for the lead.  Circumstances were working against the No.4, however, and they were frustrated to find themselves behind again when an unfortunate incident with another GT car saw Richard Westbrook being penalised by officials.

“Blue flags were being waved,” notes Olly, “but I don’t think the #23 driver saw them and he ended up going off.  It wasn’t intentional contact and I think the stop/go plus 60 seconds was a bit harsh as it put us way back again.

“By this time the Risi Ferrari had got into quite a good lead but we set about chipping away at it. Tommy  was absolutely brilliant in the last two hours, stringing together qualifying lap after qualifying lap, and that combined with some fantastic pit stops from the Corvette Racing guys got us back in the game.  He put the pressure on the Ferrari until it paid off, seven laps before the end.  It was a great result for everyone on the team and I’m really, really happy.”

Olly’s next race will be the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach in California on Saturday 20th April.

 

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