Olly’s idea of a Spa treat is undoubtedly different to that of the average man or woman in the street. Not for him a bit of pampering and relaxation, but instead the opportunity to race at the celebrated 7.4km Spa-Francorchamps race track in the Ardennes region of Belgium.
“I absolutely love the Spa track,” says the 37-year-old Corvette Racing driver who, this coming weekend, will be racing for the Mad Croc Racing team in the fifth round of the FIA GT1 World Championship. “I’m really looking forward to going back there although it will be a bit strange to have just two one-hour races instead of being there for the 24-hour event like last year.
“Spa is a real racer’s track, and one you can get your teeth into. It’s so challenging and just a classic place to go and drive any race car. The GT1 Corvette seems to very much suit this track and it’s a huge amount of fun to drive it there. Spa is a fast track so you really have to work at getting past people, and have to think hard about where you’re going to do it. The weather is often very variable which adds another element to your strategy and planning because, just like at Le Mans, it can be raining on one side of the track and not on the other.”
Olly was one of the stars of the 2009 Spa 24 Hours event, in contention for the lead for nearly 22 of the 24 hours until an engine problem prevented him from seeing the challenge through to the chequered flag. Setting fastest lap of the race for the Belgian SRT team was a small compensation for the disappointment. With Mad Croc Racing also operated by Patrick Selleslagh and his small, family-run team, Oliver and his Finnish team mate Pertti Kuismanen will have a definite ‘home’ advantage.
“I think we should be reasonably competitive,” he notes, “but it’s difficult to know until we get going where we stack up with the recent performance balancing and whatever else has happened since the last round. Patrick and Pertti did a half day of testing a few weeks ago and that was reasonably successful. It’s Mad Croc’s home race so want a good showing this weekend, and I think we have a solid foundation to go into the race.”
All the latest action can be followed online at www.gt1world.com including live streaming of the two 60-minute races from the Spa Francorchamps circuit in the Ardennes region of Belgium. Practice and pre-qualifying take place on Thursday, 29th July and the first of the two one-hour races, the qualifying race, takes place at 3:00pm (CET) on Friday. The Championship race takes place on Saturday, 31st July at 12:05 pm.