Treacherous 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).