Britain’s Oliver Gavin completed his first ever V8 Supercar event at the Armor All Gold Coast 600 at the Surfers Paradise street circuit on Australia’s Gold Coast this weekend and brought home two top six results for the Kelly Racing Pepsi Max team.
In what was a difficult and emotional weekend for the world of motorsport following the loss of Dan Wheldon, who was originally due to take part in the race, Corvette Racing driver Olly took his place amongst the 28 international drivers for this extra-special round of the V8 Supercars Championship. Proving his top-line racing credentials beyond doubt, he turned out two strong and convincing performances in the 5-litre, V8-engined Holden Commodore to help his team-mate, V8 Supercar regular Greg Murphy, to sixth and fourth places in the two 300km races.
After encouraging performances in Friday’s practice sessions, where Olly was consistently in the top five, the duo had to start Saturday’s race from 18th place after rain turned qualifying into a lottery. Olly started and got the car up to ninth during his run, and ‘Murph’ then continued the good work to place as high as third before his tyres began to fade. With other competitors on newer rubber, the Kiwi did extremely well to hang on to sixth place.
In Sunday’s second race, Murphy used every one of the 635 bhp at his disposal to secure seventh on the grid and Olly once again was tasked with starting the race. He moved up to fourth before handing over to Greg, despite having a numb left leg for the final ten laps of his stint. Murphy hung onto the position until the chequered flag, despite having to use the same front left tyre on the #11 Pepsi Max Commodore for 68 laps; the wheel nut had become too damaged to remove the wheel at the team’s second and final pit stop on lap 54.
With the duo not having put a foot wrong all weekend, Greg Murphy spoke warmly of his new team mate: “I’m a little bit disappointed to be off the podium, but it was a great weekend. Olly did an absolutely superb job the entire event; he is such a class act. I really I don’t think there was much more we could do.”
Olly was also full of praise for both the team and his team mate. “At the end of the second race there, I was just stunned how well Murph was driving; he just drove with such control. He is a great guy to work with, we gelled really well and now I want to do more back here in Australia.
“I’m really, really pleased for everybody on the Pepsi Max car and the whole of Kelly Racing for what we all achieved this weekend. It was a real pleasure to work with them and drive for the team, and I can’t thank them enough for the opportunity. They opened up their team and embraced all of the international drivers and really made us feel at home.”
Mark Winterbottom and Richard Lyons won the final race of the Armor All Gold Coast 600 today ahead of Jamie Whincup and Sebastien Bourdais, with Lee Holdsworth and Simon Pagenaud in third place. Bourdais was awarded the Dan Wheldon Memorial Trophy for the top international driver over both this weekend’s races.