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.