Frustrating fifth at Road America

The fans wanted a four-hour race at Road America – one of the ALMS drivers’ favourite North American venues – and the series produced four hours of nonstop action in sixth round of the 2011 season.  Olly and Jan finished a somewhat frustrating fifth in the GT class but were never out of contention for a better result until the final part of the race.  The No. 62 Risi Competizione Ferrari 458 Italia driven by Jaime Melo and Toni Vilander won the hard-fought GT category, and as some consolation the No. 4 Corvette won the Michelin Green X Challenge competition.

Olly leading the pack at Road America

In the opening laps, Olly was caught up in the GT melée but came back strongly after a spirited track battle with the Ferrari and No. 56 BMW and took the lead at just under an hour into the race. He held the point through the No. 4 Corvette’s first pit stop, but had minor contact with the Ferrari as the two cars exited the pit lane simultaneously.  After dropping to fifth, Gavin worked his way back to the front, passing the BMW again for the lead half way through the event, and completed a marathon 2 hour 16 minute stint in the hot Wisconsin sunshine before handing over to Jan.

“It certainly never got dull,” Olly said afterwards, “and I really enjoyed the race, with some great battles between us and the Ferrari and BMW, but ultimately it wasn’t a good day on the Championship front as we lost some ground to the No. 56 BMW.  I had an action-packed stint!  I was tapped at the start, got sideways, and several cars screamed by on the inside. Then there was a big scrap as we went into Turn 5, with cars everywhere. Finally things settled down a little.

“On the first pass for the lead, the BMW was pushed wide by the Ferrari and they got bottled up in Carousel,” he recalled. “I got around the BMW, and then passed the Ferrari as we came into Turn 14. After the pit stop, the Ferrari’s door was open as we went down the pit lane, Vilander was trying to get himself secured, and said he ran out of hands and we had slight contact which spun me around.

“On the next restart, I passed the Ferrari and was having a good battle with the leading BMW. When we came up behind a slower GTC car, he went left, I went right, and I managed to out-drag him on the front straight. It was great fun and great racing!”

As the track and ambient temperatures cooled, partly due to cloud cover and partly to the fact that the race was running into early evening, the balance of the Corvette changed and Jan backed off to bring the car home.   “The competition was faster at that point,” notes Olly, “and that’s something we’re going to take away and analyse for the future.  Things are getting really tight now as we get to the last few races and we can’t afford to lose any further ground.”

With thanks, as always to Corvette Racing.

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