Gearbox problems deliver ALMS championship set back at COTA

Tommy made a great start at COTA

Racing at the highest levels sometimes offers great opportunities but it’s rare to be given the chance to drive for two Championship-leading, top-class teams in the same weekend.  In the recently completed International Sportscar Weekend at the impressive Circuit of The Americas in Austin, Texas, Britain’s Oliver Gavin was given just that opportunity when he drove for Corvette Racing in the American Le Mans Series and Aston Martin Racing in the FIA World Endurance Championship.

The long-time Corvette Racing factory driver arrived in Texas with a two point advantage in the GT Drivers’ championship standings but the weekend never ran entirely smoothly for Olly and his team mate in the No.4 Corvette C6.R, Tommy Milner. As with most of the field, the pair had not raced at the 3.2-mile track before and that, coupled with torrential rain on practice and qualifying day, led to a difficult couple of sessions.  After a lot of hard work by drivers, engineers and Michelin, a plan was put together and Olly qualified 3rd in the GT class, just behind the No.3 sister car.

The race promised a huge amount but ultimately failed to deliver due to a rare gearbox failure, as Olly explains:  “Tommy made a brilliant start and got us into the lead but, right from lap one, we had gearbox problems; it wasn’t upshifting from second to third properly.  It was great watching him go backwards and forward, fantastic racing, and what the ALMS has done so well in the last number of seasons in the GT class – different cars, different manufacturers, brilliant to watch.  Unfortunately he was experiencing more and more problems and, after 58 minutes of struggling, the gearbox failed altogether and Tommy pulled up and parked the car.

“It was gut-wrenching from a championship point of view because it’s getting down to the business end of the season and you need to make every race count.  It didn’t happen for us at COTA which was really bad, and we need to go back and analyse what happened. Unfortunately though we’ve lost the chance to score those points, whatever they would have been, and while the championship title is not impossible for Tommy and me now, it’s been made a whole lot harder.

On a positive note both Jan and Antonio drove fantastically in the sister car, particularly Antonio in holding off the BMW and the Viper in the end.  In terms of the Manufacturers’ and Teams’ championships, Corvette Racing and Chevrolet are very close to securing those now so that’s one big positive to come out of the weekend.”

Olly’s next race will be the Oak Tree Grand Prix at VIR on 5th October.

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