The high points of Oliver Gavin’s visit to the impressive Paul Ricard HTTT for Round 4 of the FIA GT1 World championship were second fastest lap of the race in Race One, and a spectacular drive through the field in Race Two from 19th to top four. Unfortunately a combination of unfortunate events, which occurred once Olly’s stints were over, meant that two 19th place finishes were scant reward for all his hard work.
“Just two flying laps in qualifying – one of which was a banker and the other interrupted by a red flag – in the end turned out to be quite lucky for us,” said Oliver. “With most of the field having done many more qualifying laps, in the hot conditions they were struggling to retain optimum performance in their tyres by the end of the first 35-minute stint in yesterday’s Qualifying Race.”
Fortunately the No. 12 Mad Croc Racing Corvette, in Olly’s hands, had no such problem and he was able to set the second fastest lap of the race. Having handed over to team mate, Pertti Kuismanen set about retaining position but suffered a spin which set him back to 19th place.
Starting from 19th on the grid for today’s Championship Race, Olly knew that he had his work cut out to make an impression on the race but was soon able to show the performance within Patrick Selleslagh’s SRT-prepared Corvette C6.R.
“I had a good battle at the start of the race,” he says happily, “and managed to make up six places on the first lap, coming past the pits in 13th. It might have been even more but I was trying to follow Olivier Panis who was in one of the Fords and, as we got to the first corner, it all started bottling up. He was going to the right of the bunch and I decided to go to the left but two cars then spun in the first chicane and he managed to get past quicker and made up more places than I did.
“I had to muscle past a few more cars, including a Nissan, one of the Hexis Aston Martins and a Maserati, and was lucky to pick up a few more places when Grosjean and Hezemans clashed. I then had one of the Sumo Nissans in front of me which was a bit quicker than us, but I was into the top four by the time we came into the pits for the driver change.”
That advantage was unfortunately lost after a sluggish departure from the pits from the Mad Croc Corvette, followed by an incident between Kuismanen and Palttala’s Ford GT which effectively put paid to a better result. A suspected broken exhaust meant that lap times weren’t what they might have been, and 19th was the end result.
Oliver heads straight off now to Miller Motorsports Park in Utah for the fourth round of the American Le Mans Series, the Utah Grand Prix, on Sunday, 11th July.