Oliver Gavin’s 2010 Le Mans 24 Hours was brought to a cruel and premature finish today after an apparent engine problem forced the car from a commanding GT2 class lead into retirement just before the end of the 19th hour of the race.
It should have been the perfect way to celebrate Corvette Racing’s 50th Anniversary of its first win, but an enormous amount of attrition throughout the four classes unfortunately included the two Corvette C6.Rs this year. It was an unfortunate weekend for all the American Le Mans Series entrants who had made the journey to France for the world’s greatest sports car race as all of them experienced misfortune in some form or other, with many failing to see the chequered flag.
Starting from the GT2 pole position, Olly and his team mates Olivier Beretta and Emmanuel Collard dominated the race – closely backed up by the sister Corvette. Both fought off the attentions of the lead Risi Ferrari in the first quarter of the race, and were able to keep all the other GT2 competitors at bay for the remainder of their time on track.
Unfortunately lady luck’s smile turned away from the No. 64 Corvette while Manu Collard was at the wheel Sunday morning. An over-aggressive pass by Anthony Davidson in one of the fast Peugeot prototypes pushed the Frenchman into the barriers at the Porsche Curves. He managed to get the car back to the pits where the crew set about repairing the car.
“The guys fixed the car brilliantly after the crash, and I was able to run my fastest lap of the race with a rebuilt car,” said Olly. “The team is fantastic, and I literally trust them with my life. I’m impressed with their spirit, guts, and determination to take on everybody; it was all a bit of a mess at the back of the car. We had the fastest GT2 car for 18 hours, but unfortunately it wasn’t enough.
“It’s frustrating that we got so far into it, we proved that we have the speed and the pace to win the race, and then a crazy move by one of the Peugeot drivers forced Manu off the road at a very dangerous spot. Anthony doesn’t seem to understand the spirit of sports car racing; that everybody has to share the track and we are four different classes. Every driver has to have respect for the others as we are all having our own, very competitive race within a race. That accident was huge, but it shows the strength of the car that Manu was able to drive back to the pits and climb out without an injury.
“In the end, it’s a very disappointing way to finish this fantastic event. The good things I can take from it are that we’ve got a great car for the future, and that we enjoyed some tremendously exciting battles with the Ferrari which brought huge smiles to all our faces. It was nose to tail racing and that’s how it should be…as long as we finish at the front!
“My next two races are at Paul Ricard for the FIA GT1 World Championship and, a week later, back to the States for the Salt Lake City round of the ALMS. You can only look forward in this business and that’s what I’ll be doing.”