Category Archives: Grand-Am

Olly records best ever Daytona 24 finish

No.90 SDR Corvette at 2013 Rolex 24 at Daytona

Britain’s Oliver Gavin achieved his best ever finish at the Rolex 24 at Daytona today, his No.90 Spirit of Daytona Racing Corvette DP being classified in 5th place despite suffering from a broken exhaust and finishing the race in the pit lane.

The team knew from the outset that fighting for victory was always going to be a tall order, with the Corvette DPs suffering a speed deficit compared to the winning Ganassi Riley-BMW car, so a top six finish was a great result for the Visit Florida-sponsored squad.  Factory GM Corvette driver, Olly, was driving this weekend with his ALMS team mates Richard Westbrook and Antonio Garcia, plus the brother of Corvette Racing’s Jordan Taylor, Ricky, who is West brook’s season-long SDR team mate in the Grand Am Series.

The No.90 suffered a series of small technical issues through the race but was, until two hours to the finish, on the lead lap and within touching distance of a podium placing.  Antonio Garcia was behind the wheel when he reported an exhaust problem and there were fears that the car’s engine would not last the distance.  The Spaniard nursed it round, backed up by Taylor and Westbrook who cycled through the car after him, and were only thwarted from finishing in the final minutes.

“It was an up and down race and we were so close,” said a very tired Olly, “but it’s my best ever finish here so I’m very happy.  We had a few issues starting with an exhaust bracket which came away from the car and showered sparks behind us for quite a while.  That was fixed under a yellow and I got the chance in the second of my three stints to have a nice fight with Marcus Ambrose, Mike ‘Rocky’ Rockenfeller and Simon Pagenaud but that was halted by an intermittent misfire.  We hung on right to the end and it just proves once again that you never give up in an endurance race.  It’s not over till it’s over.”

Shortly before sunrise heavy fog descended over Daytona International Speedway and racing was effectively suspended for 100 minutes as the field followed a safety car around the 3.56-mile, 12-turn speedway road course.  In all, about one quarter of the race was run under yellow caution periods but it was an exciting and nail-biting finish for the overall runners and and GT class competitors.

For Olly it’s likely this will be the last time he will race a Daytona Prototype in the 24-hour event as this time next year, thanks to the merged Grand Am and ALMS series, he will be in the all-new Corvette C7.R.  “It’ll be interesting to see how it will perform here at Daytona next year.  It will be its race debut so it’s going to be not only spectacular but also a voyage of discovery for all of us.  Our team boss at Pratt & Miller, Gary Pratt, has been here this week with his tape measure, seeing whether our normal pit structure can or will be allowed to fit here, and generally asking lots of questions.  As I say, a voyage of discovery for all of us!”

Olly’s next race will be with Corvette Racing at the opening round of the 2013 American Le Mans Series, the 12 Hours of Sebring, in Florida on 16th March.


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Olly aiming for 2013 Daytona glory

The No.90 SDR Corvette DP at the Roar Before the 24 at Daytona

It may only be just weeks into the new racing year, but our reigning ALMS GT Drivers Champion, Olly, is already about to make his third trip over the Atlantic to the USA.  The first two were for tests but it is this third one, to Florida for the 51st Rolex 24 at Daytona, which the Briton considers as key for a super-successful 2013 season.

The Corvette Racing factory driver will be lining up for his 9th attempt for a win and a Rolex watch at the 24-hour endurance endurance classic which takes place on January 26/27 at Daytona International Speedway.  Gavin will be driving the No.90 Spirit of Daytona Racing Corvette Daytona Prototype (DP) alongside SDR regulars Richard Westbrook and Ricky Taylor plus his ALMS team mate, Antonio Garcia.

“I’m looking forward to it a lot,” says the ultra-fit and ever-enthusiastic driver.  “It’s going to be one of the best shots for overall victory that I’ve had.  This team is well prepared, having had the car for a season now, and I am driving with three excellent drivers who have a lot of experience in this car.  I feel confident we can take a victory.”

Oliver anticipates fierce competition throughout the 24-hour race from the veritable ‘who’s who’ of international racing stars who will be lining up for the start at 3:30 pm (EST) on Saturday, January 26.  Of the 59 entries in the event 17 are from the DP class and 36 from GT, but the four-time Le Mans 24 Hours class winner reckons that the elegant blue Corvette DP will definitely be a strong factor in the bid for winners’ laurels.

“We have strength in depth at SDR, but there are so many great line ups this year – in cars that have the speed and experience to win – that we’re going to need a very special day,” notes Oliver.  “We’ll need to have luck on our side though.  As with all endurance races, we have to stay out of trouble, out of the pits and be as consistent as possible.  To win this year’s Rolex 24 at Daytona you’ll have to work hard to get through the traffic and really earn the win.  That just makes it more rewarding though.”

The first of four practice sessions begin on Thursday, January 24, with qualifying taking place Thursday afternoon.

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Olly to drive SDR Corvette protoype in Daytona 24

The SDR Corvette DP in the 2012 Daytona 24

Spirit of Daytona Racing is proud to announce that Oliver will be joining Antonio Garcia, Richard Westbrook and Ricky Taylor in the #90 SDR Corvette DP for the Rolex 24.

He competed alongside Garcia and Westbrook at the 50th Anniversary of the Rolex 24 Hour event at Daytona this past January and is looking forward to racing with Ricky Taylor for the first time.  “I’m excited to be back with the SDR team for the Rolex 24,” he commented. “I’m also looking forward to spending time with Ricky Taylor on the same team.”

“Olly is part of the Spirit of Daytona family,” commented team owner Troy Flis. “He has experience in the Corvette DP and with the team. I couldn’t be happier with our complete driver line-up and am really looking forward to carrying our momentum from 2012 into the 2013 season.”

Antonio Garcia and Richard Westbrook are team-mates with Olly in the Corvette Racing programme and both look forward to having him back with them in the SDR #90 Corvette DP.

Ricky Taylor commented “Oliver Gavin is a very experienced driver that I look forward to working with. The Rolex 24 hour event is such an important race for all of the teams that every advantage is important. Driving with Oliver, Antonio and Richard is an advantage.”

The Spirit of Daytona team will be testing together at the “Roar before the 24” at Daytona International Speedway on January 4‐6, 2013.

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Daytona – What a Watch!

Olly joined fellow Corvette drivers Antonio Garcia, Jan Magnussen and Richard Westbrook in the Spirit of Daytona Corvette-bodied Daytona Prototype in the 50th Anniversary of the Rolex 24 at Daytona, and finished 8th overall.  Here he gives his thoughts and reflections on a superb weekend of racing for spectators and competitors alike.

“So here we are the day after the Rolex 24 at Daytona looking back on what must have been one of Grand-Am’s best events ever.  It’s a shame our new Corvette DP No. 90 car wasn’t able to figure a bit more in the mix at the front but we were pleased to bring a brand new car home in the top ten.  We had lots of comments over the week about how beautiful the car looked – it’s definitely raised the image of the DP cars significantly.  Read more →

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Ready for Action at Daytona

Ready for the off!

Well, here we are ready for Race Day at the Rolex 24 at Daytona and the week has gone pretty well so far.  We’ve had the usual ups and down with the car, and a few little problems here and there, but it’s been generally trouble free.  The car is still very, very new and everyone is still trying to dial themselves into that but we’ve done a reasonable amount of testing here and have a reasonably comfortable set up.


Antonio did a great, solid job in qualifying and got us fifth on the grid.  At one point it looked as though we might be in the top three but the tyres seem to be hard to read and know when they were at their peak; if everything had gone just right, we might even have been challenging for the pole.  It’s great that all the Corvette DP cars are right there in the hunt – it seems there are 9 or 10 cars which have the pace to win the race.

Fog Factor and Tyre Wear

It’s going to be unbelievably hard and very difficult, particularly in the night if there’s fog or rain or changeable conditions.  It doesn’t look as though we’ll get rain but there’s a strong chance of fog in the early morning between, say, 5am and 9am so the chances are we’ll have some fog issue and we’ll be driving round under the safety car till it clears.  We’ll see what happens.  A few people are marginal on tyres and rear tyre wear seems to be a problem for a few people.  We will be wary of that and maybe double stint left side tyres but that might not be necessary if it’s foggy for a long time!

Traffic, traffic, traffic

Traffic will be a major issue and we’re expecting a lot of yellows.  The team that wins this race will be the one that has no contact at all and manages to have a clean run or has as little as possible and manages the yellows.  With 45 GT cars out there it does make it very tough and the fact that the speed of the DP and GT cars on the straight is very close.   It seems that in every series we race in at the moment it seems there’s little straight line speed difference between the classes and that’s something every series needs to address as it makes the racing that little bit harder and challenging, especially for less experienced drivers.  They might not have the best way of passing people and they take desperate measures and that’s when accidents and incidents happens.

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Olly completes successful Roar Before the Rolex 24 test

Olly and his three Spirit of Daytona Racing team mates, Antonio Garcia, Richard Westbrook and Jan Magnussen, today completed a very successful three-day test session at Daytona International Speedway.  The Roar before the Rolex 24 was the last opportunity for them to test their new Corvette-bodied Daytona Prototype before the 50th Anniversary running of the 24-hour event from 26-29th January. Read more →

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Olly to race new Corvette DP in 2012

The new Spirit of Daytona Racing Corvette Daytona Prototype

Olly is to dovetail a new prototype programme into his already busy 2012 schedule.  With the American Le Mans Series remaining as his main focus for the forthcoming season, he has been confirmed as one of Spirit of Daytona Racing’s drivers for the endurance events within the 2012 Rolex Sports Car Series: the Rolex 24 at Daytona, the Sahlens Six Hours of the Glen at Watkins Glen and the Indianapolis 3 Hour race. Read more →

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Crash ends Olly’s Road America

The scenic Road America track at Elkhart Lake in Wisconsin is a favourite of Olly’s – and one he is very familiar with thanks to his ten years of competition with the GM Corvette Racing team but he will have very different memories of the circuit after today. Read more →

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Points Reward After Wet Watkins Glen

The #07 Banner Racing Camaro GT.R

In the second of his two back-to-back Grand-Am Rolex Sportscar Series races, Olly Gavin fought against wet weather, spinning obstacles and random caution periods to come through for a much deserved 4th place in the GT class in the Sahlen’s Six Hours of Watkins Glen.

He and his team mates Gunter Schaldach and Mike Skeen (a 24-year-old originally from Virginia and now living in North Carolina) finished 10th overall from the 26 starters in the #07 Banner Racing Camaro GT.R.  The British driver also claimed the honour of leading the race overall and recording the Fastest Race Lap in the highly competitive field. Read more →

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Unmemorable Memorial Day for Olly

The Memorial Day Classic at Lime Rock Park in Connecticut was a one day meeting on Monday, May 30 but it’s not a race that Olly will want to remember too kindly.  He and team mate Gunter Schaldach finished 8th in their Banner Racing Camaro GT.R and had to run for much of the race with a severely down-on-power engine due to a broken plug wire. Read more →

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