Lime Rock Park proved to be no walk in the park for Olly and Corvette Racing in today’s American Le Mans Northeast Grand Prix. A stop-and-go penalty effectively took the No. 4 Compuware Corvette C6.R out of contention for a victory and its sister car was sidelined with suspension damage after contact with another car. Olly and Olivier finished fifth in the GT class, two laps behind the winning No. 45 Flying Lizard Porsche.
After rain throughout Friday’s practice and qualifying sessions, race day dawned hot and humid, with the thermometer at 96 degrees at the start of the two hour 45 minute race. The Corvettes started fourth and sixth in the 13-car GT field, and held those positions through the opening laps as the GT cars formed a six-car freight train on the roller coaster 1.5-mile circuit.
Beretta was vigorously defending fourth place against a pair of BMWs when he was served a stop-and-go penalty for blocking. Five minutes after he’d been into the pits for it, Olly took over the No. 4 Corvette and drove it to the finish.
“I was very upset with the penalty because everything was good in our first race in GT at Lime Rock,” Beretta said. “I was bumped three times – I was the victim, and yet I got the penalty. I just moved one time to defend my line, I was not zigzagging. It was just racing, but the penalty destroyed our race.”
Olly did a long two hour stint in the very hot conditions, which was relatively uneventful. Caught out by a safety car that split the GT field, he lost a lap to the leaders but got back on the lead lap with one hour to go when the leaders pitted. Unfortunately he didn’t get the further caution needed to rejoin the frontrunners.
The final stint had its own share of drama, however, with a quick spin in the uphill chicane and a close encounter with a Ferrari in Turn 1. Then light rain began to fall in the final 10 minutes….
“When I got in the car I knew I was going to be behind because of the extraordinary and random penalty we received,” Olly said. “From that point onwards we were just trying to get that lap back. We had a bit of an incident with a Porsche trying to go around the outside in Turn 5 and lost the rear of the car, and that cost me maybe 10 seconds. When it started to sprinkle and the track got slippery, I thought it could be a time for us to capitalise so I tried to go around the outside of the Patron Ferrari in Turn 1. I don’t think he saw me, and he pushed me wide into the marbles.
“It seemed that everything we tried today just didn’t work out,” he noted. “At least we came away with a fifth place, but it’s frustrating that we can’t seem to get a break at the moment. We made some pretty big changes to the car after warm up to try and learn something from this track, and we realise we’re having to play catch up to the opposition in terms of performance. Some of what we tried worked, and hopefully we’ll be able to employ that in Mid Ohio. Seeing as how we effectively had no testing time in the dry, we were testing things to see how they worked in the race. It was a bit of an experimental day in that respect, but I think nearly all good things have come from experiments so I’m now looking forward to Mid Ohio.”