Oliver Gavin and Tommy Milner returned to the top step of the American Le Mans Series GT podium this afternoon, winning the fifth round of the series at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in their No.4 Corvette C6.R by just 0.267 seconds over the No. 91 SRT Motorsports SRT Viper GTS-R of Farnbacher and Goossens.
It is Olly’s second win of the year (following the 12 Hours of Sebring), and provided a much needed boost to his championship position following a disappointing past few races. The British Corvette Racing driver, together with his 2012 championship-winning team mate Tommy Milner, is now second in the GT points’ standings and only 5 points behind BMW’s Dirk Müller.
Olly started the 2 hour 45 minute race this afternoon from 6th position on the grid after a difficult qualifying session yesterday, but he and Tommy were confident that certain changes they’d made to the car would give them an advantage in the race. He made an excellent start and got past both BMWs ahead of him on the first lap and then set about catching the No.93 Viper. As the silver SRT cars’ tyres started to deteriorate, Olly seized his chance and got the class lead after 56 minutes of racing.
Olly explains about the set up strategy he and Tommy worked on with their engineer, Chuck Houghton: “We focused on getting the corner onto the back straight right and we were fastest in that sector in Friday’s practice. We made a change to the setup which we were confident would give us the speed in that particular part of the track as we knew that, if we got ahead at that point, our opponents wouldn’t be able to catch us. That’s how it turned out today.”
The only slight drama in Olly’s race – apart from the tension caused by the close finish – was when he came into the pits slightly earlier than originally planned as an electronic glitch indicated he should pit for fuel immediately. While his team mate was fully kitted up, he wasn’t at the door of the car as Olly got out (at the 1h05m mark) which caused Olly some concern! Fortunately no significant time was lost and the team did a great job to get the No.4 Corvette out of the pits ahead of the leading Viper. Milner, despite having his mirror full of the silver cars right to the chequered flag, never gave into the pressure and brought the yellow Vette home to the win.
“It was a great result today,” said a delighted Olly who has been suffering from a heavy cold this week. “It all fell into place and Tommy did a fantastic job to hold them off. The Vipers were very strong here in Canada as they have a lot of power at their disposal and their team has worked hard to generate excellent downforce. It’s great to see them challenging us, the BMWs and others as it keeps the topsy turvy nature of the GT races alive – this was definitely the race of the afternoon, and I’m really, really pleased it turned out the way it did!”