Seven GT cars finished on the same lap at Road America today, representing five different manufacturers – such was the intensity of the battle in the four-hour race, the seventh round of the American Le Mans Series. The GT race was won by the BMW of Bill Auberlen and Jörg Muller.
Corvette Racing’s Oliver Gavin and Tom Milner might look, on a lap chart, to have experienced a roller-coaster of highs and lows at different times through the race, but the GT championship points’ leaders were able to not only retain their hold on the lead but extend it, thanks to their eventual fourth place finish.
Olly took the start of the race from third place on the grid but took just four laps to move up to second. He made his first pit stop at the 1hr 3minute mark under the first of four full course caution periods, and handed over to Tommy who was unfortunate to be caught in slower traffic as the race got underway again, dropping down a number of places.
Just past the two hour point, under the second set of yellows, Olly returned to the wheel for the final two hours with the task of trying to secure as high a finish as possible with the championship in mind. Unfortunately problems at the pit stop delayed him slightly but he went on a charge and set fastest lap after fastest lap to climb back into second position, which he held for an hour. The Northamptonshire-based driver explains how things panned out in the latter stages.
“To say it wasn’t an easy race is probably an understatement, but one that pretty much the whole of the GT field could make! It was fast and furious out there, as always, but we seemed to have a few things thrown in our path which didn’t allow us to be fighting for the win on this occasion. We pitted for the final time under the third yellow, but it came at just the wrong time for us and just the right time for the BMWs and that bumped us to the back of the queue. When we exited we not only had a number of GT cars ahead of us on track, but also some P2 and PC cars.
“Racing in a multi-class environment you’re always aware of other battles going on, and I make a big effort not to get in the way of faster cars coming through. Getting in the way of those battles can seriously affect the outcome of someone’s race result and, when there’s a five-car train such as we had in GT, every second counts. The last ten laps were a bit crazy and, to top it off, I had some unintentional contact with the No.56 BMW. We talked it through and shook hands on it after the race but you always prefer to have a clean race from start to finish. The ALMS doesn’t always deliver that though as it’s so tight at the front. Great for the fans though, and ultimately good for us in the points battle.”