Category Archives: Other Racing

Hire A Hubby-backed Gavin primed for opening V8 Supercars enduro at Sandown

The Hire A Hubby-backed Oliver Gavin is primed for a second consecutive run at the Australian V8 Supercars PIRTEK Enduro Cup, starting with the Wilson Security Sandown 500 (11-13 September).

Gavin, who became a five-time winner in the 24 Hours of Le Mans earlier this year, is gearing up for a high-intensity end-of-season programme that consists of five races on two continents in seven weeks.

The British ace from Yardley Hastings, Northamptonshire will cross oceans while dovetailing his full-time commitments as a factory Corvette Racing driver in the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship with a second consecutive attack on the V8 Supercars PIRTEK Enduro Cup as teammate to Nick Percat in the #222 Repair Management Holden VF Commodore.

Gavin first sampled a V8 Supercar in the 2011 Gold Coast 600 when he and Greg Murphy achieved a brace of top six finishes, but made a resplendent return to the Aussie V8s grid as Percat’s co-driver three years later in 2014.

It was a formidable union, as the Anglo-Australian pairing finished eighth in the final classification after Gavin became the first international rookie since 1989 to reach the podium in Australia’s great race, the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000.

Happily, Gavin and Percat will reunite in the 2015 Wilson Security Sandown 500 (11-13 September), this time in a Lucas Dumbrell Motorsport-prepared Holden, and the teammates are understandably optimistic about their prospects after last year’s successes.

Gavin, whose PIRTEK Enduro Cup campaign will be supported by Hire A Hubby, said: “I’ll be trying to use muscle memory from last year’s visits to Sandown International Raceway, Mount Panorama and Surfers Paradise to reacclimatise to the circuits, the driving techniques and the style of racing you typically see in Australian V8 Supercars. I’ve been focusing on switching tack ever since the flag fell on the TUDOR  Championship race at Virginia International Raceway in August and I really feel my head is in gear and primed for the challenge ahead.

“Racing a V8 requires a completely different approach to what I’m used to with the Chevrolet Corvette C7.R. The Holden is a unique beast that needs to be tackled in a very specific way, which I came to understand in 2014. Of course, it’s great to be partnering Nick once again. He’s a really talented young driver, we work well together and, given what we achieved last year, I feel we will have a good shot scoring consistently strong results in this year’s PIRTEK Enduro Cup.”

Gavin will contest all three rounds of the Australian V8 Supercars PIRTEK Enduro Cup, which consists of the Wilson Security Sandown 500 (11-13 September), Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 (8-11 October) and Castrol Gold Coast 600 (23-25 October).

Parties interested in either supporting the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia or becoming a Hire A Hubby franchisee should contact BAM Motorsport Promotions or Oliver Gavin directly:

David Madgwick (BAM Motorsports)
T: +44(0)1442 891500
M: +44(0)7884 318272
Oliver Gavin

For more information on Oliver Gavin and his racing activities, please visit the official website, ‘like’ his Facebook page or follow @olivergavinon Twitter.

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LDM signs Gavin for V8 Supercar enduros. Gavin Hires A Hubby.

HAH_logo_2013Five-time 24 Hours of Le Mans winner and Bathurst 1000 podium finisher, Oliver Gavin, has signed as an ambassador for Hire A Hubby as he embarks on his second full assault on the Australian V8 Supercars PIRTEK Enduro Cup.

Gavin will showcase Hire A Hubby and its association with the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia (PCFA) by proudly carrying the organisations’ logos on his Lucas Dumbrell Motorsport Holden VF Commodore for the duration of his 2015 V8 Supercars campaign.

In Australia, prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed form of cancer in males and more than 3000 Australian men die of the disease every year.

With those statistics in mind, Hire A Hubby is working hard to highlight men’s health issues, but particularly the risks associated with prostate cancer, and it will use Gavin’s V8 Supercars programme as a vehicle to raise awareness of the PCFA’s dedicated effort to reduce the impact of the disease on Australian men, their partners, family and the wider community.

Established in Australia as a single-man operation two decades ago, Hire A Hubby has since expanded into a professional and nationally-renowned franchise business due to the unique nature of the service, eye-catching branding and high levels of media exposure.

The company specialises in residential handyman and property maintenance services, with an army of more than 300 franchisees representing the brand and carrying out a host of rejuvenation, renovation, assembly, repair and installation tasks across Australia and New Zealand.

However, Hire A Hubby has wider ambitions and it is offering opportunities to those wanting to make a fresh start with a handyman franchise at home and abroad, with a high-visibility presence at Sandown, Mount Panorama and Surfers Paradise.

Hire A Hubby Director, Brendan Green, said: “Australia’s largest repairs, maintenance and renovation company, Hire A Hubby, has just agreed a new partnership with Oliver Gavin and his Lucas Dumbrell Motorsport V8 Supercar team. The V8s are extremely popular with the Australian public and we see this as a great way to reach our target franchisee audience.

“There are a large number of Hire A Hubby’s 300-plus franchisees who love V8 Supercars and now, through our partnership with Olly, we have a great connection with potential new Hubbies, while also being able to continue our support of the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia at the upcoming PIRTEK Enduro Cup events.”

Gavin added: “I’m absolutely thrilled to be launching this new and exciting partnership with Hire A Hubby for my Australian V8 Supercars PIRTEK Enduro Cup campaign. It’s always a privilege to compete on this platform. The V8s have a huge and unparalleled following, both in Australia and further afield. There is an unrivalled passion and enthusiasm for the championship and I believe we have a fantastic opportunity to harness that love for the sport and reach out to potential Hire A Hubby franchises, while also raising awareness for company’s chosen charity, the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia at the events.”

Gavin will contest all three rounds of the Australian V8 Supercars PIRTEK Enduro Cup, which consists of the Wilson Security Sandown 500 (11-13 September), Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 (8-11 October) and Castrol Gold Coast 600 (23-25 October).

Parties interested in either supporting the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia or becoming a Hire A Hubby franchisee should contact BAM Motorsport Promotions or Oliver Gavin directly:

David Madgwick (BAM Motorsports)
T: +44(0)1442 891500
M: +44(0)7884 318272
Oliver Gavin

For more information on Oliver Gavin and his racing activities, please visit the official website, ‘like’ his Facebook page or follow @olivergavinon Twitter.

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VIR disappointment set aside as Gavin changes tack for V8 Supercars return

Corvette Racing VIR 2015The Oak Tree Grand Prix at Virginia International Raceway (VIR) produced more disappointment for Oliver Gavin (22-23 August) and the British ace is now switching gears prior to a second attack on the Australian V8 Supercars PIRTEK Enduro Cup. 

The way the weekend at VIR played out was all too familiar for the Corvette Racing team. It was evident from the outset of free practice that the Chevrolet Corvette C7.Rs would be no match for Porsche and Ferrari due to an apparent disparity in the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship’s Balance of Performance (BoP).

Even so, the Pratt & Miller-led team’s ‘never say die’ attitude resulted in experiments with contrasting aero configurations in an attempt to reduce its deficit, but Gavin and teammate Tommy Milner could only muster the seventh fastest time in qualifying.

“We knew from the start of the weekend that it was going to be difficult, so we experimented with setups,” said Gavin. “Each car went in different directions with the aero balance and we took a high downforce, high drag configuration, but the less downforce, low-drag setup appeared to be the best compromise over an entire lap, so that’s how we decided to race.”

Gavin took the start of the 2h40m race on Sunday (23 August) and spent the majority of his stint trading places with the #25 Team RLL BMW Z4 in the hands of Bill Auberlen in a physical, yet fair fight over sixth position.

Gavin soon got the better of his BMW rival and sat in the wake of the #3 Corvette shared by Jan Magnussen and Antonio Garcia and the final phase of his stint, while relatively straightforward, was punctuated by a spin for Auberlen when the Californian attempted a retaliatory lunge at Turn 1.

“I had fun during my stint in the car while in a race with Jan (Magnussen) and Bill (Auberlen),” said Gavin. “We could race the BMWs well and I knew it would be important to get passed Auberlen as quickly as possible, aware that the #25 car is Corvette Racing’s chief rival for the GTLM title, so I towed up behind and made a move. There was a lot of chopping and changing and we a bit of rubbing and he eventually overcooked a lunge at Turn 1 to spin out in front of me for the second time this season! Thankfully, I missed him and I basically saw out the rest of my stint behind Jan, mindful of the fact that we were tight on fuel and had to eke out each stint.”

Milner took the reins and undercut Garcia in the #3 Corvette, holding fourth with the pace to maintain position and manage his five-second gap over those behind, although a slow fuel-flow rate saw the #4 car lose positions in the stops and it was up to Milner to bridge the gap with some committed driving.

Pushing hard, the American racer had a half-spin at Turn 3, but showed good car control to avoid losing track position, but his pace was compromised thereafter and he would relinquish a place to Garcia before making a third splash and dash with one lap to go, contrary to the team’s original strategy.

An eighth place finish was the end result and Gavin said: “Tommy pushed really hard and just got caught out, but he managed to continue on his way. We hadn’t saved enough fuel throughout the race and that necessitated another fuel stop with one lap remaining, resigning us to eighth. It’s very frustrating for everybody at Corvette Racing because everything seems stacked against us and, no matter how hard we try, sixth or seventh is the best we can hope for at the moment. We’ll be back fighting at Circuit of the Americas and I hope we have more on-track battles, this time for the podium places.”

Gavin is now changing tack ahead of a return to the Australian V8 Supercars grid for the three-part PIRTEK Enduro Cup.

The Northamptonshire resident has signed to race the Repair Management Australia Holden VF Commodore alongside Nick Percat in the Wilson Security Sandown 500 (11-13 September), Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 (8-11 October) and Gold Coast 600 (23-25 October).

Percat and Gavin raced together in last year’s PIRTEK Enduro Cup and, having finished eighth in the final points classification and claimed third in Australia’s great race, the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 on the legendary Mount Panorama circuit, there are high hopes for the forthcoming 2015 campaign.

“I’m already getting my head into gear for my return to Australian V8 Supercars and the Sandown 500, as it requires a completely different approach to what I’m used to,” said Gavin. “The Holden is a completely different beast and you need a very different driving style. I’m going from a car with a paddle shift, traction control, pretty good aero and tyre, to a car with a sequential manual gearbox, relatively little downforce and slightly more power. I’m in the process of switching to V8 Supercar mode and I’ll be trying to use muscle memory from Sandown, Bathurst and Gold Coast last year to rediscover that rhythm I found.”

Also posted in TUSC, United SportsCar Championship | Leave a comment

Gavin turning the screw for a corking race at Laguna Seca after tricky GT Masters outing

I1D_9848 Oliver Gavin goes into the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship Continental Tire Monterey Grand Prix Powered by Mazda in the wake of a difficult start to his 2015 ADAC GT Masters season at Oschersleben, where he and teammate Tomáš Enge took their Reiter Engineering SaRENi Camaro GT3 to a hard-earned points finish.

Reiter Engineering undertook an intensive development programme on the SaRENi Camaro GT3 during the off-season, but was under no illusions about the challenge it faced going into the 2015 season.

Concerns that the Oschersleben circuit would expose the Camaro’s weaknesses were borne out in free practice and qualifying, although an off-track skirmish in the first half of the two-part qualifying session would truly place Reiter Engineering on the back foot.

The German outfit poured over data and made major setup changes between sessions in search of extra performance and it was up to Enge and Gavin to lift the #25 Camaro from the back of the grid in both one-hour sprint races.

Fresh Pirelli rubber helped Enge climb to ninth during the opening laps of race one on Saturday (25 April), but a change of tyre pressures radically altered the Camaro’s handling characteristics and, despite struggling with a loose rear-end throughout his stint, Gavin managed to keep a Bentley rival at bay to receive the chequered flag in tenth and score a hard-earned point for Reiter Engineering.

Additional setup alterations were made in wet but drying conditions during Sunday’s (26 April) warm-up and the car once again felt alien to Gavin as he took the start of the weekend’s second race later that day.

Nevertheless, the Briton began his ascent up the leaderboard and was positioned 19th when a failed overtaking manoeuvre by a BMW rival resulted in contact and race-ending steering damage to the Reiter-prepared #25 entry.

“I was fun being back in the ADAC GT Masters and competing alongside Tomáš (Enge), but I’m obviously disappointed to conclude the weekend at Oschersleben with a retirement, having done so well to score Reiter Engineering’s first points of the 2015 season the previous day,” said Gavin. “It was certainly a challenging weekend with the SaRENi Camaro GT3 and Oschersleben was always going to be a bit of a bogie circuit for the car, but I have every faith in the team and there is now a chance to go away, regroup, assess the data we collated and choose a direction before going to the next round at the Red Bull Ring.”

Gavin is now preparing to return to the Corvette Racing fold for Round 4 of the 2015 TUDOR United SportsCar Championship at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca (1-3 May).

The beautiful and evocative motor racing facility was built in 1957 and in the intervening years has hosted the USRRC, Can-Am, Trans-Am, Champ Car, American Le Mans Series, Grand-Am and MotoGP motorcycle races, to name but a few.

The 11-turn circuit is a favourite for drivers and fans alike and is characterised by the infamous Corkscrew, which drops 59 feet between the entrance of Turn 8 to the exit of Turn 8A – the equivalent of a five and a half-storey drop – in only 450 feet of track.

A full complement of prototype and GT cars will take to the 2.23mile Californian venue for the Continental Tire Monterey Grand Prix Powered by Mazda, which will be 2h40m in duration and precedes a critical pre-24 Hours of Le Mans test for Gavin and his Corvette Racing team.

For more information on Oliver Gavin and his racing activities, please visit the website, ‘like’ his Facebook page or follow @olivergavin on Twitter.

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Oliver Gavin returns to ADAC GT Masters with Reiter Engineering Camaro

ADAC GT Masters 15. + 16. Lauf 2014 HockenheimringOliver Gavin is set to join Tomáš Enge in a Reiter Engineering-prepared SaRENi Camaro GT3 on his return to ADAC GT Masters at Motorsport Arena Oschersleben in Germany (24-26 April).

Gavin is a full-time competitor in the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship with the works Corvette Racing squad and will also face the 24 Hours of Le Mans French endurance classic at Circuit de la Sarthe in June.

However, the Briton is no stranger to ADAC GT Masters. He contested three rounds of the series in a Callaway Competition Corvette in 2014, achieving two race wins at the Red Bull Ring in Austria and a podium finish on German soil at the Lausitzring.

This time around, Gavin will pilot a 650bhp Reiter Engineering-prepared Camaro, which has been extensively developed over the winter months to ensure the team has a successful 2015 ADAC GT Masters season, beginning at the technical Oschersleben circuit this weekend (24-26 April).

The 3.69km German track will host two one-hour sprint races over the course of the weekend and both Gavin and his Czech teammate Enge will have an opportunity to take a start and receive the chequered flag, with the minimum drive time for each competitor set at 25 minutes.

As a result, the racing is fast and frenetic and Gavin suggests an alternative, more aggressive approach may be required, saying: “I’m pleased to be returning to ADAC GT Masters, as the success I had in 2014 has left me with very fond memories of the championship. The racing is very close and it can get quite physical due to the sprint format, leaving you very little time to sit and wait and see how things develop. You’re in full attack mode from lights-to-flag.

“Being involved in ADAC GT Masters gives me another chance to test myself, as it’s very different to the TUDOR Championship and Australian V8 Supercars. I will definitely have to switch gear and use all of my guile and experience to ensure we first and foremost survive the races and also come away with some good results.”

Gavin added: “Reiter Engineering has worked hard over the winter and is confident it has moved on with the SaRENi Camaro GT3. I’ve driven the car before and I think a podium will be a good result in Oschersleben. Another positive is that I know Tomáš (Enge) very well. We’ve raced against each other countless times over many years and we’ve always had a good relationship, as there’s a lot of mutual respect there. On his day he can do some pretty remarkable things in a racecar and, in addition to that, he’s one of motorsport’s most colourful characters. There’s never a dull moment when you’re with Tomáš.”

For more information on Oliver Gavin and his racing activities, please visit the website, ‘like’ his Facebook page or follow @olivergavin on Twitter.

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Oliver Gavin confirmed to partner Nick Percat at Lucas Dumbrell Motorsport

Gavin-Percat-LDM-cropLucas Dumbrell Motorsport has confirmed factory GM Corvette Racing driver Oliver Gavin will team up with Nick Percat for the 2015 Pirtek Endurance Cup. 

Percat and Gavin raced together last year in the Pirtek Endurance Cup, finishing eighth in the final points classification and claiming third in Australia’s great race, the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000.

After the success of 2014, Percat says Gavin was the natural choice to join him in the #222 Repair Management Australia Holden Commodore.

“Oliver was the first and last driver on my list of who I wanted to drive with,” said Percat. “I was adamant on having Olly back because he showed great speed, is a quality driver and brings a wealth of international and endurance racing experience.”

Percat has full faith in the 42-year-old Brit and feels Gavin is an invaluable asset for the enduros and his own personal progression.

“Olly is a consummate professional and I know that both Lucas Dumbrell Motorsport and I can learn a lot from him,” said Percat. “He will bring a lot of ideas on how we can continue to develop. We can focus on making sure our car is strong from the outset, because I know he can drive a V8 Supercar fast.”

A four-time American Le Mans Series (ALMS) Champion and 24 Hours of Le Mans Winner, Gavin says driving with Percat was a highlight of his 2014 season, and is thrilled to be joining him once again.

“Nick and I had a great run at Bathurst and finishing on the podium was definitely a highlight of the year for me,” said Gavin. “Nick and I are a great combination; we work well together and are a strong mix of youth and experience, so I’m really looking forward to continuing what we started. Lucas Dumbrell Motorsport is also a great young team and its passion, energy and enthusiasm makes me really excited about the enduros.”

The Pirtek Enduro Cup commences with the Wilson Security Sandown 500 (11-13 September) and continues with the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 (8-11 October) before culminating with the final event, the Castrol EDGE Gold Coast 600 (23-25 October).

For more information on Oliver Gavin and his racing activities, please visit the website, ‘like’ his Facebook page or follow @olivergavin on Twitter.

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Gavin’s bid for Mount Panorama podium return in Bathurst 12 Hour comes to early end

1d90caf8-049e-4182-b90f-e7dab96f3375Oliver Gavin’s love affair with Australian motorsport remains undiminished after a stout bid for glory in the 2015 Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour on the legendary Mount Panorama Circuit ended prematurely in the wall (6-8 February).

The Briton’s jaunt in the 2014 Australian V8 Supercars Pirtek Endurance Cup yielded a podium finish in the Bathurst 1000 race, making Gavin the first international driver to scale the V8 podium in more than 25 years.

This remarkable feat was the catalyst for Gavin’s return to ‘The Mountain’, where he would attempt to emulate his V8 Supercars success and scale the winners’ rostrum in the world-renowned Bathurst 12 Hour GT race, this time with a state-of-the-art Audi R8 LMS Ultra MPC, owned and co-driven by capable amateur racer, Rod Salmon, and Australian ace, Nathan Antunes.

Gavin contested the once-around-the-clock enduro for the second time, having led last year’s race in a Class B Audi R8, and fully expected to have all the ingredients necessary to mount a serious challenge for a podium finish, or even victory.

The Skwirk-liveried Audi was a top-ten stalwart during free practice, mixing it with the manufacturer-supported efforts of Bentley, Nissan and Aston Martin, as well as other top marques like Ferrari and Lamborghini.

Sadly, the wrong tyre, traffic and successive red flags all added up to a very frustrating qualifying session for Gavin and teammates, who were unable to better 23rd on the grid.

However, Gavin felt he had some unfinished business ‘down under’ after retiring from last year’s Bathurst 12 Hour and, well aware that the race was never going to be won in qualifying, the Briton remained confident of challenging for victory in the once-around-the-clock enduro.

The cars took the start as the sun rose over New South Wales and it was a spectacular sight as, headlights ablaze, the bumper field of GT cars clambered over ‘The Mountain’ for the first time in the dim early morning light.

Gavin pushed on and drove in a committed fashion to drag the #5 machine into the top ten by the completion of his first double stint.

After an early caution period, Gavin locked horns with fellow Briton and former Le Mans 24 Hours winner, Guy Smith, in an all-new Bentley Continental GT. The pair remained engaged in a tense tussle for fourth overall as the sun rose along with the temperatures before pitting for the first round of driver changes.

Following a superb effort and with the disappointment of qualifying well and truly behind him, Gavin handed the reins to team owner and competitive amateur driver, Salmon – himself a former Bathurst winner.

The order continued shifting as the 12 hours ticked on and the Swkwirk Racing team remained in contention until the fourth hour when Bathurst debutant and former single-seater Champion, Antunes, began his opening stint.

After a protracted Safety Car period – one of 20 that would blight the race – Antunes set after the leaders in a bid to improve track position. However, unfortunate contact with the unforgiving concrete wall at The Cutting resulted in terminal damage to the Skwirk-backed Audi R8 LMS Ultra’s axle, chassis and gearbox.

Gavin was philosophical in the aftermath of the incident, which forced his team into retirement after approximately 4h30m had elapsed, saying: “I love coming to Bathurst, as it’s a unique and unbelievable racetrack and the experience of working with Rod (Salmon) and the professional Skwirk Racing team has really made the journey worthwhile. After the disappointment of qualifying, we had to pick ourselves up again and demonstrate what the Audi could deliver and I think we did that admirably as a team and, with good fortune, I believe we could have got a strong result.

“Nathan is devastated that the race ended in the way it did, but Mount Panorama is unforgiving and the quality of the field makes it a 12-hour sprint. As a result, you can’t afford to drive too far within yourself if you’re genuinely looking to win. I have to thank Rod for the opportunity and his great hospitality in Australia and I hope we can have a go at putting this result right in 2016.”

For more information on Oliver Gavin and his racing activities, please visit the website, ‘like’ his Facebook page or follow @olivergavin on Twitter.

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Oliver Gavin confident of mounting a challenge for Bathurst 12 Hours victory

Oliver-Gavin-Bathurst1Oliver Gavin is prepared to move mountains in a bid to conquer the blind crests and deep dips of Australia’s Mount Panorama circuit during the 2015 Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hours (6-8 February).

Mount Panorama is a unique and merciless motorsport venue in the New South Wales region of Australia.

At 6.21km in length, it rises 174 metres and its undulating layout comprises of several challenging corners, including The Dipper – a steep, sharp left-hander – and Forrest’s Elbow, which leads onto the 1.91km-long Conrod Straight.

Gavin, a long-term Corvette Racing factory driver, first took on ‘The Mountain’ in the 2014 Bathurst 12 Hours, prior to engaging in a successful campaign in the V8 Supercars Pirtek Endurance Cup, which culminated with a sensational podium finish in the Supercheap Autos Bathurst 1000.

The 2014 running of the once-around-the-clock Australian enduro saw the British racer and his Rotek Racing team set the Class B pole position and lead the race outright, before mechanical maladies resulted in an early retirement, leaving Gavin with some unfinished business.

The four-time 24 Hours of Le Mans winner from Northamptonshire, England has a huge bank of experience in endurance racing to call upon and, undaunted by Australian motorsport’s sternest challenge, he is sure his familiarity with the unforgiving Bathurst track will serve him well against a large and high-calibre entry.

With the proven Audi R8 LMS Ultra underneath him and Rod Salmon and Nathan Antunes as teammates, Gavin’s expectations are high and he said: “I am really looking forward to returning to Mount Panorama for the 2015 Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hours because, after the disappointment of retiring from a potentially race-winning position last year, I honestly feel there’s some unfinished business. Despite that, I had so much fun ‘down under’ in 2014 and I’m with a team that’s very well prepared and has the ability to deliver a competitive package with the Audi R8 LMS Ultra.

“The Mount Panorama circuit has a unique and intoxicating blend of long, high-speed straights and technically demanding corners on the mountain section, which require a very precise hand. It’s such a unique and amazing track and circuit knowledge is extremely vital if you are to achieve a big result. It’s difficult to know for sure where you’re going to be in the pecking order, but with two successful Australian GT racers in Rod (Salmon) and Nathan (Antunes) alongside me, I reckon we have all the ingredients to be a factor in the race.”

For more information on Oliver Gavin and his racing activities, please visit the website, ‘like’ his Facebook page or follow @olivergavin on Twitter.

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Seeing triple in 2014: the lowdown on my team mates!

Seeing Triple in 2014

As I started packing for my final trip of the year, to New Orleans for a Corvette C7R test, I began thinking about what an interesting year I’ve had and all the ups and downs that have gone with it. I was fortunate enough to race with three different teams on three continents, all with very different philosophies and idiosyncrasies, whether it was United Sportscar Championship in the USA, the ADAC GT Masters in Europe, or V8 Supercars in Australia.

Each series has been fiercely competitive and all have real merits, but each one also has its flaws.  In the ADAC and USCC there is an issue with the way the Balance of Performance is executed and adjustments meted out, while in V8 Supercars certain manufacturers are given certain breaks – Nissan has the most downforce and Volvo the most power for example – and all those things come into play over a race weekend.  Until you’re involved, you don’t really know that much about it so it’s all been a bit of a learning curve.

There was one common theme and that was a young team mate.  In each car I have been teamed with a driver in his 20s, someone who is at the beginning of his career in sportscars, hungry, fast and determined.  It’s been very interesting to experience that and see how different drivers approach different problems and deal with the pressure of a race weekend.  I enjoyed testing myself against Tommy Milner at Corvette Racing, Daniel Keilwitz at Callaway Corvette in the ADAC GT Masters and Nick Percat at Walkinshaw Racing in the V8s.  They put me outside my comfort zone and that’s a good thing for a driver at any stage as you learn so much about yourself and about people in general.

Corvette Racing Le Mans 2013At Corvette Racing we’ve had a great deal of stability over a good many years and the team knows me inside out and vice versa.  This was a difficult year for a number of reasons, and it was the first time in 13 seasons that I’ve actually had more success away from the team than with them.  It’s unusual and I certainly hope it doesn’t continue like that; come 2015 we will be able to get back to winning ways of 2012 and 2013.

Tommy is the 2014 driving partner one I know the best, and one of the great things about him is that you know exactly what you’ve got each weekend.  He’s consistent, quick and not overly emotional; rock solid and very easy to get on with.  You can always talk through issues and problems – he’s clear on what he wants and is a real team player, properly understanding that it takes a team of two or sometimes three people to do this.  He’s developed a strong relationship with all the guys and adapted himself into the Corvette Racing mentality.  From the first year we got to know each other, I soon figured out it would be good partnership as we won races and the championship.  He’s a great team mate!  Through the middle of this year, when Tommy and I were having struggles with the new C7R, he tried not to spin out too much about it and it was good to have that steadying influence. Previous team mates might well have been jumping up and down screaming.

OG and Daniel at RBRWorking with Daniel was a new challenge as he’s a bit quieter and almost shy to start with, although when he gets to know you he comes out of himself.  He reminds me of Antonio; from the outside you’d never think he would be quite so ruthless and quick in the car but has this ability to put on his helmet, switch it on and deliver.  He’s very well established at Callaway Competition and won championship with them in 2013.  We had a difficult start to the year with two DNFs at Oschersleben, but he came through and finished 3rd in Championship.  The two victories we had together at the Red Bull Ring got his 2014 back on track and it was great to be part of that.  He’s a very talented driver and someone who’s going to be in and around sportscar racing for many years.

I was fortunate to spend several weeks at a time in Australia and that meant I got to know Nick pretty well.  He’s very quick, very determined and very strong with his beliefs on what should be happening with the car – you’re never left wondering what he thinks of the car and that’s great, you need that positive approach to things.  He’s fiercely competitive and has a real fire in his belly and drive to be successful; it’s what every young driver needs to have.

OG and Nick PercatHe’s smart too and impressed me at Bathurst with his thinking under great mental and physical pressure, mostly due to the heat in the car, and I’m sure he will have a very long career in V8s.  To have mentors such as Garth Tander, James Courtney and Tim Slade can’t be bettered, and I’m sure there will be many good battles over the next year or so.  I do think, however, Nick would benefit from doing some sportscars outside Australia and in a different culture as that would make him a really rounded driver.

With Daniel and Nick, I’ve not only had to get to know them but also understand and learn how to race in different series, be quick in cars that are quite different, on tyres which are very different.  Their approach and how they drive through a session and prepare the car for the start of a race has been great to learn from, knowing when to push or not on the tyres, feeding off their specialist knowledge.   For example, in V8s there’s a specific procedure to go through to get off the line well and there’s a fine balance to getting it right.  You can soon see why the V8 is a car you need time in and around but it’s a great challenge and a huge amount of fun…our podium result at Bathurst was the icing on the cake.

All of my team mates this year have taught me a lot – I hope I’ve managed to also teach them something too!  We are all now training hard, testing and preparing for 2015 and I look forward to seeing everyone next year.

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Gold Coast and home sweet home!

Home Sweet Home

It’s been a massively long five weeks since I last stepped through my front door, and I’ve been to three continents in that time.  My racing season is now over and it’s time for some well-earned rest, relaxation and training for 2015, with a bit of testing thrown in!  It hasn’t been the easiest of years by any stretch but it was great to finish on a higher note with the podium at Bathurst.

10731907_1512592212328815_1918554298_nAlthough I’d raced at the Gold Coast 600 in 2011, this year was the first time I’d had the chance to fully immerse myself into the V8 Supercar Series.  The three endurance races I did with Walkinshaw Racing were an all-round great experience and I made some good new friends ‘down under’.  It’s super competitive on track but – as you might expect from Australia – it’s pretty relaxed off it and made up of some big characters.  Being in a four-car team meant there were a great many people to learn from, all with different approaches and attitudes.  They all have a huge amount of knowledge and passion for the sport and I found myself taking different bits of advice from each of them to discover the best way of getting round Sandown, Bathurst and Gold Coast.

I formed a very good partnership with Nick Percat, and really enjoyed working with engineers Alex and Ty.  Walkinshaw Racing is a good team and they went out of their way to help me work on adapting to the car and series – it was, for example, a long time since I’d done a standing start!  I had to get used to downshifting using a clutch again, sitting on the other side of car and, like with most cars, you have to learn what to do to make them go quickly. I discovered lots about the tyres the series runs on, the way the cars work with the gearboxes they use, and the power they’ve got.  They have relatively little downforce and there’s a very small operating window to get the maximum out of the car.  You have to get yourself tuned into that and understand where you can push or where a delicate touch is required.  That balance is critical.  The cars are a huge amount of fun to drive and there’s plenty of bumping and banging; you know you’re in a tough and aggressive racing series but the guys have huge respect for each other too.

Gold leaf instead of gold-plated10727270_520182078117669_2110922502_n

The Bathurst 1000 was the race I really wanted to do, to see for myself the special draw and atmosphere the event creates.  It is Australia’s equivalent to Le Mans and every driver wants to be standing on the top step and have their moment there; a podium was fantastic and gave us good confidence going on to the Gold Coast race which, of course, I’d raced at before.

Between races I immersed myself in the Aussie racing drivers’ culture of cycling a lot, eating well, and generally having a good time.  There was plenty of banter and fun between all the Walkinshaw drivers and Tim Slade in particular is a demon cyclist.  By the time the race weekend started, we were all pretty relaxed and that atmosphere made it easier to be away from home for such a long time.  I shared a house with Nick and I can’t thank him enough for all he did to ease my transition from Corvette Racing to a new team and a different way of working.

B0iMcWZCEAAH84VTalking of working, we did a bit of PR stuff before the event and when there’s talk of a volleyball match there’s usually a few drivers around.  At GC, there were 6 or 7 V8 drivers and about 30 V8 supercar girls in checkered flag bikinis…James Courtney was ‘coaching’ the girls and we felt we should do our best to support our team mates.  Even the boss, Ryan Walkinshaw, turned up…funnily enough!!

The race weekend held a lot of promise as we were fast and on the pace with potentially a top 6 or 8 place car.  Nick got us into the top 10 shootout so our Walkinshaw Racing #222 Holden VF Commodore started p8 but it all went a bit downhill from there.   After an early Safety Car period, the re-start was messy and we were 4/5 wide into the first corner.  The long and short was that I was hit and bent the right steering arm which took us a long time to change, putting us out of contention from then onwards.  It was a great shame as I think we would have been 4th or 5th without that.

For our second race on Sunday it seemed that every decision taken by our car didn’t quite work out.  The kerbs there are vicious and the officials monitor how much kerb you take and let you know if your laps were legal or not.  Communication problems and issues during qualifying meant that Nick didn’t get that info and his two top laps were disallowed and we started 16th so we’d already got our work cut out from that moment on.

I made an okay start and was making up some places when there was an incident and possibility of a caution.  The team called two cars in, and as I was coming down pit lane they realised it wasn’t going to be a caution, so I not only had to double stack behind our sister car but also do it under green.  We lost a whole heap of time and were on the back foot massively thereafter.  We finished 10th which wasn’t bad considering, and were the highest placed Walkinshaw car in the Pirtek cup so it was a nice result to round out my trip.

Kudos to Kentucky

It was a bit of a thrash, but I went direct from Gold Coast to a family holiday in Dubai and then to Kentucky for a Corvette Racing test…do not stop, do not pass go, do not sleep!  Getting to the US meant I basically went for almost two days with only a couple of hours of sleep so I wasn’t in the best shape for the first day of the test.

We were using Corvette’s new test track at Bowling Green, Kentucky which is a purpose-built 2.5 mile high speed circuit which opened in august.  It’s been laid out and configured for us to be able to carry out some decent Le Mans testing.  It’s got quite a long straight, and the only place we go quicker in a straight line is Daytona.  It was the first time the team had tested there.

The slowest corner is second gear, and a lap is under a minute at an average speed of 120+mph – it’s really quick and I struggled to re-adapt to the C7.R and learn the new track while feeling so groggy.  My brain was fried and I didn’t want to crash the car or hurt myself so I let Tommy do most of the work on day one!

I had a good night’s sleep and was all fired up for day two but it then rained all day.  As it’s a brand new track, the water just sits on the surface and it’s like running on glass.  It was too much for the Michelin rain tyres so we called an early halt to the test which was a shame.  Our next one is early December so at least I get a few weeks at home.  I’ll make the most of them!

Images thanks to Ben Auld

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