GM factory driver Olly Gavin of Northamptonshire, England and his Banner Racing team mate Gunther Schaldach of Colorado, took a second consecutive podium finish in the #07 The Cool TV Camaro GT.R at Virginia International Raceway yesterday, solidifying second place in the GT points standings for the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series.
It was a challenging race in differing weather conditions, and the Anglo-American finish just two seconds behind eventual GT winners Jordan Taylor/Bill Lester’s Camaro gave Team Chevy a well-deserved 1-2 in the ever-competitive class. While delighted for GM and the Leighton Reese run Banner Racing with the result, Olly rued the conditions and circumstances which prevented a first Grand-Am win.
“It was very, very wet at the start,” noted the British driver, “but Gunther did a great job keeping it on the black stuff, especially since there was a mix up with the tires and the car wasn’t handling as it should have been. At the change over we were in something like 10th place but, by the time I started my stint, the rain had stopped and the track was drying so I could start to claw back some places.
“Gunther had made a call for slick tires, but it was a bit optimistic at the start of the stint and there were people flying off the track all over the place. It soon started drying more and more though and we managed to get past Bill Auberlen’s BMW and a Porsche. We had enough fuel to go to the end without refuelling, and were pretty sure that our competitors would have to stop, so were looking good but there was a caution which definitely helped some people’s strategy and weakened our chances.”
Struggling with chronic oversteer thanks to a missing hood (removed in order to fix non-functioning windscreen wipers at the start of the race), Olly continued to pressure Jordan Taylor for the lead but a muddy and greasy track, combined with bright sunshine and a dirty windscreen, contributed to a rare mistake from Olly and he slid off the track and lost 6 or 7 seconds in time.
“To be fair to Jordan,” he continues, “he didn’t make any mistakes even though I was pushing him hard, but I can only think about what might have happened if I hadn’t gone wide. We survived a lot of mud, debris and general carnage, however, and I’m pleased for Team Chevy that they got a 1-2.”
Olly’s next Grand Am race at Lime Rock Park, Connecticut, on May 30 will see the start of a hectic schedule of three races in three weekends, culminating in the 24 Hours of Le Mans in France on June 11-12.