It’s been called a bull ring and a short track with hills, but perhaps Corvette Racing driver Oliver Gavin’s description of Lime Rock Park is the most accurate: “It’s like stepping into a gladiatorial arena.”
In beautifully picturesque North West Connecticut, the track has an historic place in American sports car racing but is nevertheless unpopular with many drivers due to its size relative to the variety and speed of cars within the ALMS entry list of today. Just 1.51 miles long, tight and twisty, there’s no room for manoeuvre – especially when the battles will be as closely fought as likely this coming weekend. Corvette, BMW, Ferrari, Ford, Porsche and Jaguar will be going up against each other for GT honours, and it will indeed be gladiatorial.
Northamptonshire, UK-based Oliver, 37, has won for Corvette Racing at Lime Rock three times in the past in the now-obsolete GTS class, and knows just how tough it will be to beat the intense competition, particularly the Flying Lizards Porsches who have won the GT class at this venue for the last three years.
“Lime Rock’s Northeast Grand Prix marks the half way point in the year and I think that everyone at Corvette Racing will admit that it hasn’t so far been a season for us to remember warmly,” says Olly. “We’ve had different issues and problems at different races, but hopefully now we’ll be able to turn the corner and have a strong second half to the year.
“Lime Rock Park is an extremely small, tight and twisty track. Overtaking is very difficult without a little bit of contact and I’m sure that in the GT class there will be plenty of that. It’s been so close all year and you just know from the drivers and teams we are up against that it’s hyper-competitive. There’s no quarter given.”
The Briton continues, “It’s going to be very competitive but a fun weekend in that respect. I think that Ferrari and the Risi team are the ones to beat at the moment, they are on a roll with three pole positions this year and their car seems to be very good. Gimmi and Jaime had another victory in the LMS Algarve round last weekend so it looks like they are working extremely well together as team mates and that’s an added strength.
“Qualifying is going to be important, trying to get at the head of the bunch. You have to try and stay out of trouble which will be very tough, especially with slower prototype and LMPC cars not knowing what to do at the start or where to go. However, the less experienced drivers at the start might mix it up and that could work for you if you’re in the right place at the right time. There’s going to be some super competitive guys wanting to get to the front as quick as possible and stamp their authority on the race, and I can’t see it will be anything less than fighting tooth and nail for the whole 2 hours and 45 minutes.
The #4 Corvette crew has to be on its game this weekend: car, drivers, crew, and engineers; we can’t afford any more slip ups or mistakes. We will have to be very good as any tiny little error is punished severely in this category.”
Olly’s next race will be round 5 of the American Le Mans Series at Lime Rock in Connecticut on Saturday, 24th July. Live audio coverage and timing/scoring will be available via www.americanlemans.com