After a fast and furious battle in the ALMS GT class, Oliver finished third in today’s six hour race at an unseasonably cold Laguna Seca in California.The result was the best of the season so far for the Northamptonshire-based man, and was viewed as a good warm-up for the forthcoming 24 Hours of Le Mans in June. The No. 45 Porsche driven by Patrick Long and Joerg Bergmeister won the class with a 0.365-second margin of victory over the Mueller/Hand BMW.
Both Corvettes ran at the front in the hard-fought GT division. Starting third on the GT grid, the No. 4 Compuware Corvette C6.R lost track position to its rivals on its fourth pit stop, but Olly charged from seventh to first during his second stint. After the final round of fuel stops he was in third, and within striking distance of the leader, but two late-race cautions stymied his attempts to move up in the finishing order.
“It was a very exciting race,” said Oliver afterwards. “Lots of things happened and I really enjoyed driving in it. It was very close in the GT class all the way through, with the lead see-sawing backwards and forwards between us, Pat Long and Joey Hand over the last couple of hours. I was really gaining on them, knocking down about a second a lap until I was only about six seconds behind Pat, and then another caution came out. I thought that would be perfect to close everyone up, and I’d just have to pass him when it went green, but I just couldn’t get any heat back into the tyres after that.
“We had the speed but that last caution just killed any chance. In the back of my mind was always the thought that this car needs to go Le Mans in a few days, and the team said if you can pull off the moves cleanly then great but we don’t want to be fixing any damage. Pat and Joey both drove extremely well and, although there was a bit of bumping and banging, that’s the nature of this Championship.
“It was great to be fighting for the victory,” he continued. “We still need to find that last little bit, but it will come. We got some good points today and I’m pleased about that as the first few races of this year were awful for us. It will give us a good boost going into Le Mans with a podium under our belts; it was exactly what Olivier and I needed, and the crew. They performed fantastically in all our pit stops, and hopefully we’ve entered a purple patch at just the right time for Le Mans.”
Olly’s next race will be the 24 Hours of Le Mans in France on June 12-13.