It may be a new season of racing, and it may be a 12-hour endurance race as opposed to the more usual 2 hour 45 minute ALMS events, but Britain’s Oliver Gavin has this week proved his determination to pick up from where he left off at the end of the 2012.
The Corvette Racing factory driver has started the defence of his ALMS GT Drivers’ title in a fast fashion, consistently being amongst the fastest drivers on the track in all of the test and practice sessions held to date at the 3.74 mile track in central Florida.
In today’s 15 minute qualifying session for tomorrow’s 61st Twelve Hours of Sebring, the opening round of the 2013 ALMS, Olly was denied class pole position by just 0.119 seconds and will start alongside the pole-winning Risi Ferrari 458 of Gianmaria Bruni. The No.4 Corvette C6.R, starting its final season of competition before the introduction of the new C7, was ahead of third-placed GT – Stefan Mücke’s Aston Martin –by a scant six hundredths of a second.
Olly acknowledged that qualifying was a likely indication of how close the race might be run tomorrow: “It was a great session and it was close, as always. It’s wonderful that Risi is back; they’ve been missed in the series and Mr Bruni is certainly talented! We know we’re going to be battling him hard in the race. We’d have loved to have pole but he just beat us by a tenth which is frustrating.
“It’s a long, long race though and more often than not the fastest car here doesn’t win. I’m very comfortable with our car and confident with our driver line up of my fellow ALMS champion, Tommy [Milner], and our endurance team mate, Richard [Westbrook]. I’m more than confident in the team and the guys have been practising pit stops – getting it down to seven seconds now to do all four tyres now, which is pretty amazing.
“We’ve been very mindful of the car in setting it up and, knowing that the track will improve through the race, that’s what we had in mind before qualifying. From many years’ experience here we know the trends and what direction to go in and we hope we’ve got a car that will be as good at the end of the race as at the beginning.
“I’m very happy and pleased with our performance today. It would have been great to get pole but the competition with the Ferrari and the Aston, with Viper and the BMWs but our focus is on the win tomorrow.”
The one-round-the-clock race begins at 10:45 am tomorrow and is being broadcast on SPEED TV in the USA, Motors TV in Europe and on live streaming (outside the USA) through alms.com.