Category Archives: TUSC

Corvette Racing’s Gavin and TUDOR Championship move on to Road America

Corvette Racing 2015There are a lot of variables that could determine the outcome of the Continental Tire Road Race Showcase – the seventh round of the 2015 TUDOR United SportsCar Championship – at Road America (7-9 August) and Corvette Racing’s Oliver Gavin is going into the weekend with an open mind.

Located midway between Milwaukee and Green Bay in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, Road America’s fast, flowing nature typically calls for a low downforce configuration and exposes any straight-line speed deficiencies, although a near-perfect car balance is required for the tight, twisty infield.

Unlike some of its TUDOR Championship rivals, Corvette Racing forewent a pre-Road America test and will have three one-hour free practice sessions in which to optimise its Chevrolet Corvette C7.Rs and bridge any perceived deficit prior to the Continental Tire Road Race Showcase on Sunday (9 August).

In addition, Michelin is set to introduce another new control tyre at the Wisconsin circuit and there will be an entirely separate race to get a handle of the new rubber, which may play a critical role in determining the outcome of the headlining 2h40m contest.

However, the factory Pratt and Miller-led Corvette Racing squad and its drivers are more than capable and will face the challenges with the same dexterity and determination that took Gavin, Tommy Milner and Jordan Taylor to victory in the 24 Hours of Le Mans in June.

“Road America is definitely one of the best tracks in the USA and it’s a circuit that perpetually promotes very close, fast racing,” said Gavin. “I’ve raced there many times before and had some good success over the years; generally it has been a pretty strong event for Corvette Racing.

“This time around, we will have our work cut out to find the ideal configuration. In the past we have used the track for our Le Mans preparations, but we haven’t tested there this year and the team will have to pull together and run contrasting setups during free practice, while assessing the impact of the new Michelin tyre and the post-Mosport Balance of Performance adjustment. All of these factors could distort the formbook somewhat, but I know Corvette Racing has the ability, we’re aware of how valuable free practice will be and we’ll make the most of that time. Let’s see how the weekend unfolds!”

This weekend’s TUDOR United SportsCar Championship Continental Tire Road Race Showcase at Road of America will be televised live on FOX Sports 1, with qualifying on Saturday at 16:35 EDT and the race Sunday at 15:00 EDT.

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

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Gavin to utilise Corvette’s rich vein of form at Mosport to break podiums duck

Corvette Racing Watkins Glen 2015Oliver Gavin will endeavour to utilise Corvette Racing’s rich vein of form at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park to break his TUDOR United SportsCar Championship podium finishes duck in the Mobil 1 SportsCar Grand Prix Presented by Hawk Performance (10-12 July).

Gavin became a five-time class winner in the 24 Hours of Le Mans last month and appears to have carried momentum ‘across the pond’ from France to the United States, despite crashing out in perilously changeable weather in the Six Hours of The Glen less than a fortnight ago.

The Yardley Hastings driver, who originally hails from the quaint Bedfordshire village of Felmersham, could be found at the top of the GTLM leaderboard at Watkins Glen, when unavoidable contact with a class rival in ever-deteriorating conditions resulted in race-ending steering damage.

Corvette Racing could take comfort from the fact that the #4 entry of Gavin and Tommy Milner was on course to make a long-awaited return to victory lane for the first time since the opening round of the TUDOR Championship, the Rolex 24 at Daytona.

For that reason, Gavin is buoyant about his prospects for the remainder of the 2015 season, beginning with the Mobil 1 SportsCar Grand Prix Presented by Hawk Performance, held north of the American border at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in Ontario.

‘Mosport’, as it’s more commonly known, is a ten-turn road course that stretches for 2.45miles across the Canadian countryside, just north of Bowmanville. The circuit was designed and built in the 1950s and, unlike most racetracks, the character of the circuit and the original racing lines remain intact.

Gavin is a previous winner at Mosport, having first scaled the top step of the podium in 2011 before achieving a landmark 40th American Le Mans Series (ALMS) victory alongside current co-driver Milner in 2013; the race was defined by a fraught fight that saw the Corvette squad edge a Dodge Viper rival to top honours by a mere two tenths of a second in a spectacular photo finish.

“We are lucky to visit some amazing circuits as competitors in the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship and Mosport is another of those classic tracks that you take a lot of pleasure from, particularly because of its massive elevation changes,” said Gavin. “I always look forward to racing in front of the supportive Canadian fans – it doesn’t hurt that Corvette Racing has such a strong record there – and I know Tommy (Milner) and I would like nothing more than to show our thanks by taking a second win there in three years.

“Corvette’s recent run has been very good and I hope for a strong and competitive weekend against stellar opposition from Ferrari, BMW and Porsche. It’s a circuit that suits the Ferrari for its horsepower, balance and stability through high-speed corners, but the BMW is likely to race well with a good amount of horsepower and downforce. Corvette will perform throughout and, while we’re still feeling our way with the 2015-spec Michelin tyres, the feedback from the team and what we’ve seen suggests we’re doing well with it.”

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 TUDOR Championship dry spell continues in rain-affected Six Hours of The Glen

Corvette Racing Watkins Glen 2015Treacherous weather conditions ultimately led to Oliver Gavin’s demise in Round 5 of the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship and the third instalment of the Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup – the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen – at Watkins Glen International (26-28 June).

Gavin and his American Corvette Racing teammate, Tommy Milner, started from sixth in the GTLM category and both drivers were positive about the #4 Chevrolet Corvette C7.R’s potential in all conditions, with a heavy rainstorm looming for the main event on Sunday (28 June).

The Six Hours of The Glen – Gavin and Milner’s first race since their 24 Hours of Le Mans victory with Jordan Taylor – was a treacherous affair from the very beginning.

The New Hudson-based Corvette Racing team elected to start on slick tyres with Gavin in the driving seat, only for rain to fall as the cars left the grid.

The peril Gavin and his competitors faced was clear to see as drivers aquaplaned and span while trundling around on the formation lap, but, calling upon lessons learned during his early years in British Formula Ford at Brands Hatch, Gavin initially avoided the hazards.

However, the treacherous conditions would get the better of the 42-year old from Yardley Hastings when he ran slightly wide onto a painted white line and fishtailed into the wall.

Now a full lap behind the lead pack, Gavin and teammate Milner utilised a full-course caution and steadily improving track conditions to negate the earlier time loss, before steady and persistent rain saturated the Watkins Glen International circuit once again.

The final 90 minutes of the six-hour race were interjected by five yellow-flag periods and a race stoppage, standing water accumulating at various points of the 3.4mile lap, and Milner comfortably led the race with a 12-second gap to Corvette’s nearest GTLM challenger before handing the reins back to Gavin.

Sadly, the #4 car crashed out soon after a restart with approximately an hour to run, the ever-deteriorating conditions leaving Gavin with little control over his trajectory and contact with the #912 Porsche North America entry leading to terminally damaged steering for the Corvette.

“It was ultimately a disappointing day for us,” said Gavin. “We had been good and quick, Tommy (Milner) got us into the lead and we caught a break on strategy to get ourselves in a good spot. The #4 Corvette was strong in the dry and appeared to be decent in the rain too, so I thought we were in for our strongest showing in the TUDOR Championship since the Rolex 24 at Daytona in January.

“Unfortunately, when I came to take the restart with about an hour to go, I had a GT Daytona car to pass at Turn 1 when, all of a sudden, the #912 Porsche was on my outside; I knew I was in trouble right there and then, because it was like driving on glass at the apex and I was certain I’d end up on the same bit of asphalt as the Porsche. It was an impossible situation and I was all out of options. Contact sent him spinning and resulted in a blown steering rack, which took us out on the spot. I’m just really disappointed for the Corvette Racing guys. We got ourselves back in the hunt after being in a difficult spot early on. I’m just sorry we couldn’t come out with a result that I felt we deserved.”

The Mobil1 Sportscar Grand Prix Presented by Hawk Performance at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in Ontario, Canada is next on the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship schedule (10-12 July).

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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Five-time Le Mans winner Oliver Gavin feeling “ready to conquer all” at The Glen

07f2ad82-0947-47a7-9ff9-2ede2fd945b3Five-time 24 Hours of Le Mans winner, Oliver Gavin, is riding the crest of a wave after his recent success in France and is “ready to conquer all” as he returns to U.S shores for the next instalment of the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship – the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen – at Watkins Glen International (26-28 June).

Gavin took his fifth class win at Le Mans in the 83rd running of the French endurance classic less than a fortnight ago, the British ace and his Corvette Racing teammates, Tommy Milner and Jordan Taylor, defeating stiff opposition from the likes of Aston Martin and Ferrari to stand atop the podium at the legendary Circuit de la Sarthe.

The victory means Corvette Racing has completed the ‘Triple Crown’ of endurance racing, as the New Hudson, Detroit-based team has achieved victories in the Rolex 24 at Daytona, the 12 Hours of Sebring and the Le Mans 24 Hours in 2015.

However, Gavin’s Le Mans win broke a protracted run of misfortune that lasted approximately 18 months and the 42-year old from Yardley Hastings, Northamptonshire now feels “ready to conquer all” before him during the remainder of the season, starting with the Six Hours of The Glen when he will share the #4 Chevrolet Corvette C7.R with Milner.

“It’s nice to follow the 24 Hours of Le Mans with the TUDOR Championship Six Hours of The Glen, as the Watkins Glen circuit is an absolutely classic, high-speed and challenging racetrack that is a huge amount of fun to drive,” said Gavin. “It’s a race that tests you both physically and mentally and you certainly feel like you’ve done an endurance race at the end of the six hours, especially as it’s usually hot and humid, but we had a good run there in 2014, squabbling over podium positions until we fell out of contention due to a strange officiating call. Of course, these things happen and you just have to take it on the chin.

“We may have had an under-par performance in the previous round of the TUDOR Championship at Laguna Seca but I think we should be able to take the fight to our rivals at The Glen. We’re riding the crest of a wave after the Le Mans victory and feeling ready to conquer all! However, I’m sure when we get back in the car on Friday (26 June), the honeymoon period will soon evaporate. We will need to knuckle down and not rest on laurels, ensuring we’re fully focused and ready to race, with BMW and Ferrari contingent looking strong and Porsche determined to strike back.”

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 ends run of misfortune with sixth-place finish at Laguna Seca

Corvette Racing Laguna Seca 2015Oliver Gavin and teammate Tommy Milner broke a protracted run of misfortune in the Continental Tire Monterey Grand Prix at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca (1-3 May), taking the #4 Chevrolet Corvette C7.R to sixth place and the strongest finish since the podium achieved in the season-opening Rolex 24 at Daytona.

Milner had the honour of vying for pole position for Round 4 of the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship and would lead the Corvette Racing charge by setting the fifth fastest time in Saturday’s (2 May) hotly contested qualifying session.

The American racer squeezed every ounce of performance from his Corvette C7.R while negotiating the 2.23mile Laguna Seca circuit, aware from free practice form that taking pole position would be a tall order on this occasion.

Nevertheless, the seven-tenths deficit Gavin and Milner had to the pacesetters in practice had been significantly reduced thanks to a spectacular joint effort from team and driver, four tenths of a second the difference between fifth and the GTLM pole.

But while the Corvette Racing squad had been effective at ironing out mechanical and setup issues prior to qualifying, there was still work to be done to optimise the #4 car’s race configuration for the Continental Tire Monterey Grand Prix itself on Sunday (3 May).

There was an air of confidence within the Corvette camp that it had taken the right direction with setup and so the focus switched to race strategy and ensuring it was primed and prepped for the driver changes, which could prove critical in determining the outcome of the race, with overtaking opportunities at such a premium.

Milner took the start of the race and was baulked by a hesitant Ferrari and lost track position as the green flag was waved.

There was a noticeable deficiency in the performance of the Chevrolet Corvette C7.Rs relative to the BMW, Porsche and Ferrari contingent, but Milner ran his own race and fought a valiant fight against the Falken and factory Porsche entries while ensuring he bequeathed an clean car to Gavin, who took the reins with 57 minutes remaining.

Gavin ran a relatively uneventful stint and engaged in an entertaining tussle with Jan Magnussen in the #3 Corvette, passing and pulling away from his teammate.

The Briton had to employ some “creative” driving to avoid incidents with relatively inexperienced drivers from other classes and preserve a respectable and much-needed sixth-place result that hopefully concludes a long, drawn-out run of bad luck.

“It was a tough day in the office,” said Gavin. “Tommy got baulked at the start by a Ferrari. It seemed that we could get up to the back of our competitors, but trying to pass people was very hard. The way the pit stops turned out, it was me getting in for the last hour of the race. We had a glitch getting me in the car. I had a bit of a race with Jan (Magnussen) coming into the Corkscrew – we’ve raced each other for years and know each other very well – I thought our car was quicker at the time, so I was able to get by and pull out a gap.

“It was then a case of reeling off the laps and staying out of trouble. Some of the driving by some of the other drivers in other classes was very creative – clearly some people haven’t got very much experience in the cars they’re driving at this track. With our competition seemingly having a performance advantage over us, it felt like we were driving with one arm tied behind our backs. Hopefully, by the time we come back to the US after Le Mans, there will be a tighter rules package that will make for good, strong competition.”

Corvette Racing now switches its focus to the 2015 25 Hours of Le Mans, with a critical test in Bowling Green, Kentucky (6-7 May).

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 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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Puncture leaves Gavin deflated after robbing him of a podium at Long Beach

Corvette Racing Long Beach 2015A puncture is the latest in a long line of unforeseen calamities to affect Oliver Gavin, and the Corvette Racing ace is battling to maintain a positive outlook after recovering an unrepresentative seventh place from the TUDOR United SportsCar Tequila Patron Sports Car Showcase at Long Beach (17-18 April).

GT Le Mans (GTLM) qualifying for the TUDOR Championship Sports Car Showcase at Long Beach was a closely-fought affair and there was nothing to choose between Jan Magnussen and Gavin in the #3 and #4 Corvette Racing entries.

Last year’s Long Beach race winner, Magnussen, took the car he shares with Antonio Garcia to a 1m17.756s to better the 2014 pole time and go fourth in class, a mere 0.020s quicker than fifth-placed Gavin who had his qualifying preparation compromised.

The #4 Chevrolet Corvette C7.R required front-end repairs following a collision with a slow-moving Daytona Prototype (DP), subsequently losing critical track time in the final free practice session of the weekend and placing a frustrated Gavin on the back foot prior to qualifying.

“The weekend started pretty well and we were the fastest car that didn’t run new tyres in Friday morning practice, but the session prior to qualifying is where everything started to unravel,” said Gavin. “It was mega frustrating for us in the #4 Corvette and some crazy things happened.

“It looked like we were getting a good run on new tyres, and coming out of Turn 6 into Turn 8, I’m behind a DP car that pretty much parked at the apex and I ran into the back of him. We did some damage to our car. We were able to go back out at the end, but the car wasn’t quite right.”

Gavin added: “Chuck Houghton, our Lead Engineer, made a good change before the start of qualifying and the car felt pretty good. However, everything was frantic and I didn’t have a cool head going into the session. I couldn’t quite execute a perfect lap and I left time on the table in some corners. I felt the car was good enough for third and the data showed that. I feel a little bit frustrated with myself, but the lap times were super close.”

The fates continued to conspire against the #4 Corvette Racing crew in the Tequila Patron Sports Car Showcase itself on Saturday (18 April), as the street race began with yet more contact for Gavin, this time involving a Porsche GTLM entry.

A somewhat disjointed and typically chaotic start on the narrow, wall-lined streets of Long Beach ultimately led to an unfortunate collision, the gap between Gavin and the #912 Porsche of Richard Lietz evaporating as the field jostled for position through the Turn 2 right-hander.

A second nudge on the right-front corrected Gavin’s course and the British ace, now seventh, was able to settle into the rhythm of the race without any debilitating wounds to speak of, when an completely unrelated left-front puncture necessitated an unscheduled tyre change, dashing all hopes of a podium result for the #4 Corvette Racing crew.

Gavin and teammate Tommy Milner were resigned to seventh on the road thereafter and, frustrated to still be caught in a long-running cycle of misfortune, a tormented Gavin said: “The run down to Turn 1 was pretty disjointed because everybody tried to get a good run out of the last corner at the start. I was right behind Jan (Magnussen) with the Porsche to my right and the gap closed, resulting in an unfortunate collision on the right-rear that span me around, only for a second touch on my right-front to correct the spin. There are always pinch points and the nature of the Long Beach street circuit contributed to it, but the incident shaped the race for the #912 Porsche and that’s regrettable.

“I thought the car felt okay thereafter and I had a comfortable rhythm when a left-front puncture came out of nowhere. I believed we were strong and a podium contender, even after the first-lap contact, but the puncture and we were relying on carrying out our driver-change during a full-course caution to bring us back into play. Sadly, we never had that opportunity and seventh was the most we could muster.

“We just keep bouncing from one completely random incident to the next and these things are completely out of our control, which is hugely frustrating. The longer it persists, the more difficult it becomes to take crumbs of comfort from the fact you were capable of achieving a decent result. You have to remain positive, keep moving forwards and learn from these experiences, so we head to Laguna Seca with the belief that our fortunes will turn around.”

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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Streetwise Gavin hoping to turn a corner en route to victory lane in Long Beach

Corvette Racing 2015The first sprint race of the 2015 TUDOR United SportsCar Championship is nigh and Oliver Gavin reckons his Corvette Racing team will be “right there” vying for the GTLM victory in the Tequila Patron Sports Car Showcase at Long Beach, California (17-18 April).

The Long Beach Street Circuit winds its way through 1.96miles of the Southern Californian city of Long Beach, which sits right on the Pacific Coast of the United States.

The temporary palm tree-lined road course is famed for its spectacular and picturesque waterfront location and the city has long hosted high-profile motor racing events, including the Champ Car World Series, IndyCar Series and the American Le Mans Series (ALMS), as well as rounds of the Formula 1 World Championship during the late Seventies and early Eighties.

Unforgiving concrete walls are an ever-present threat and just finishing is an achievement in itself, although the race often pivots around strategy and efficient work from the teams in the circuit’s crowded pit lane will be critical.

Gavin, whose attacking driving style is compatible with the demands of racing on street circuits, believes he and the #4 Chevrolet Corvette C7.R will be a potent combination at Long Beach and a repeat of his 2012 victory could be on the cards.

The British ace said: “I like all street circuits and I think it suits my attacking driving style. Sometimes that really pays dividends at Long Beach and I won there in 2012 with Tommy (Milner). That was a great race for us and it was particularly nice to pass some cars and put some moves on people. You’re really driving as fast as you can without going beyond the limits because there’s no room for error and it’s too easy to send the car into the wall.

“Last year was quite tough with the way the prototype cars and GT cars ran together, but the split-start deal we have in this year’s TUDOR Championship should make for a far cleaner, closer race, especially considering that the Balance of Performance (BoP) has been pretty good so far.”

Gavin added: “I feel that some cars, such as the Ferrari 458 Italia or the short wheelbase BMW Z4s, will be very strong at Long Beach, but I’m sure the Chevrolet Corvette C7.R will be right there too because you need good mid-corner rotation and traction out of the turns. I believe much of this race will pivot around the pit stops; passing opportunities will be at a premium and any delay in the pits is going to cost you dearly.”

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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Equipment malfunction the undoing of Gavin’s 12 Hours of Sebring charge

Corvette Racing 2015 Teams and drivers typically encounter many bumps in the road, both literally and metaphorically, at Sebring and an unfortunate throttle issue forced Oliver Gavin to retire the #4 Chevrolet Corvette Racing C7.R during the final two hours of the 63rd Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh from Florida (Saturday 21 March).

The Rolex 24-winning Corvette Racing team took hold of the top two spots in the GTLM class during a stop-start night practice session on Thursday evening (18 March), with Ryan Briscoe’s #3 Corvette C7.R leading the #4 car driven by Tommy Milner at the end of the 90 minutes.

However, both Team RLL BMW Z4 GTEs and the #911 Porsche North America entry all featured at the top of the timing screens in free practice, suggesting that pole position was far from guaranteed and it was all to play for in qualifying (Friday 20 March).

The top three were separated by thousandths of a second, with only four tenths covering the majority of the GTLM field in practice, and this fierce battle carried over to qualifying, the competitive order shifting drastically as drivers used every inch of the demanding and bumpy Sebring track in search of lap time.

After Gavin sealed a sensational pole for the Rolex 24 at Daytona in January, it was “Tommy time”, as Milner was elected to qualify the #4 C7.R, the American racer achieving seventh with a time that was merely half a second off pole.

There was nothing to choose between the bright Velocity Yellow cars in terms of race pace and, aware that strategy and durability are the keys to conquering Sebring, spirits were high in the Corvette Racing camp during the build-up to the main event.

“Qualifying was tough,” said Gavin. “It was hot out there all weekend, the circuit was difficult and changeable and the setup worked for one car and not the other, but our hopes were high for the race. We knew we just needed the car to be right, particularly for the last two hours of the race when it gets dark. That’s the most critical time when you need to get the job done, so that’s what we aimed for.”

Conditions remained hot and humid and temperatures crept above 90 degrees Fahrenheit as the famous “drivers, start your engines” order was given, and Milner spent the opening minutes of the race engaged in a red-hot battle with the BMW of five-time 12 Hours of Sebring winner, Lucas Luhr.

The pack remained tightly bunched as the the first round of stops took place and Milner came alive to snatch three positions following the first caution period before handing the reins to Simon Pagenaud.

Gavin took to the 3.74mile, 17-turn Sebring circuit during the fourth hour of the once-around-the-clock enduro and dragged the #4 Corvette Racing C7.R as high as fourth in class, directly behind the sister car driven by Jan Magnussen.

The brutality of the 12 Hours of Sebring became evident as the race reached the halfway mark, the rate of attrition notably higher as drivers faltered and mechanical gremlins set in.

Nevertheless, Corvette Racing’s push for reliability in testing appeared to be paying dividends as the New Hudson-based team continued plugging away unhindered, with both cars on identical strategies and getting well within the fight for the GTLM podium.

However, a ‘belt and braces’ approach wouldn’t have prevented a critical time loss, caused when an equipment malfunction brought Milner to a stop midway through his second stint in the #4 Corvette.

Now seventh in class, Pagenaud maintained position during an uneventful spell behind the wheel, but Gavin was elected to complete the final third of the 12-hour race.

While rear tyre management was an issue for the #4 machine, the British ace made gains as the sun set and the temperatures dropped at the Sebring circuit until a recurring sticking throttle halted his progress and eventually forced Gavin to retire with just over two hours on the clock.

“It was an unfortunate end to our race with the equipment malfunction,” said Gavin. “We showed throughout that our Corvette C7.R had good pace. I was able to challenge and post solid lap times in both stints, and I felt like we had a car that could certainly challenge for the podium. Sebring is tough on drivers and the cars, as we saw again today.”

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 focused on bettering Daytona podium with 12 Hours of Sebring victory

Corvette Racing Daytona 2015 Oliver Gavin is focused on bettering the third-place finish he achieved in the Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona in the second instalment of the 2015 TUDOR United SportsCar Championship, the 63rd Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh from Florida (18-21 March).

Gavin achieved Corvette Racing’s first victory at Sebring back in 2002 while teamed with Ron Fellows and Johnny O’Connell in the American Le Mans Series’ (ALMS) GTS division and has since achieved four additional race wins at the classic 3.74mile Floridian track, which encompasses 17 turns and preserves the essence of the original circuit.

The Briton – fourth on the all-time Sebring winners list, along with Dindo Capello, Hans Stuck and Lucas Luhr – has accrued countless other high-profile successes during a prolific sportscar racing career with the Corvette Racing team and currently stands as a four-time ALMS Champion and 24 Hours of Le Mans winner.

And having come agonisingly close to repeating past glories at Daytona in January and then completed a productive, yet eventful General Motors test at Sebring with the striking Corvette C7.R last week (9-10 March), Gavin believes that victory lane is a realistic target for him and his teammates, Jan Magnussen and Simon Pagenaud.

“Sebring is always a physical race,” said Gavin. “The track is bumpy and aggressive, it’s usually very hot and that can have an impact on the car, drivers and crew. Sebring gives everything a thorough workout so it’s particularly good for testing the lifespan of the car’s mechanicals. The C7.R stood up to the rigours of the Floridian track and I’m reasonably confident that we’ll be competitive. It’s the one race where you come out of it feeling beaten up – the circuit really takes it out of you and it’s one of the most physical circuits that anyone could ever drive. It’s something you really have to be prepared for.

“That first Corvette Racing victory at Sebring in 2002 was huge. It was my first year with Corvette Racing and it was really a honeymoon period with the team because it seemed as though we could do no wrong. To get that first win with Corvette at Sebring was phenomenal and, to then win the 24 Hours of Le Mans and Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta, made it a pretty special year.”

The 47-car entry will take the start of the 63rd Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring at 10.40am EST on Saturday (21 March).

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

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