Briton Oliver Gavin demonstrated excellent pace and superb racing skills at the Grand Prix of Miami at the Homestead Miami Speedway today on his way to an eighth place finish, one lap down to the leaders of the GT class in the 2011 GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series. Gavin ran as high as second during his stint in the extremely competitive GT category before handing the wheel to his Canadian team mate, Gunther Schaldach, for the final fifty minutes of the race.
Schaldach, who lives in Aspen, Colorado, had been tasked with qualifying for this second round of the Grand-Am Series and placed the #07 Banner Racing car in ninth place on the GT grid. Both Oliver and Gunther had struggled to find an optimum set up in the practice sessions leading up to qualifying, but after making some last minute set up changes, were confident the #07 The Cool TV Camaro GT.R would be capable of a good race pace.
Gunther maintained a consistent pace in his first stint, despite contact with a DP car which resulted in the Camaro losing its hood which adversely affected the car’s aerodynamic handling for the remainder of the race, especially on the banking. The first stop, just after the 35 minute mark in the 2 hour 45 minute race, dropped them back to 15th position but Oliver likes nothing better than a challenge and set about clawing back positions on the leader board to as high as second place. He recorded the second fastest GT race lap during this period, narrowly beaten to the ultimate honour by his ALMS team mate, Jan Magnussen, in another GM Camaro.
“Tyre life was a massive issue at this race but I really looked after my tyres,” said a very hot Oliver after his 75-minute stint. “Because of that, I was able to keep banging in the lap times and make my way further up the leader board. I think it was just me and Bill Auberlen [in the GT-class winning Turner Motorsport BMW] who were able to really benefit during that period and maintain the same sort of speed throughout, although I was getting extremely over-heated in the car. Whether that was because of the missing hood I don’t know, but I was definitely ready to hand over to Gunther again at our second stop.
“We were right up against it on fuel, and unfortunately a caution period came at just the wrong time for us and our second pit stop which put us a lap down on the leaders. Otherwise I think we should have finished in the top six. We were unfortunate here at Homestead with contact and the pit stop timing , but I’m looking forward to future races as there’s lots of potential in the car. Barber [Motorsports Park, at Birmingham, Alabama] should be a good circuit for us.”
Oliver’s next race with be the opening round of the 2011 American Le Mans Series – the 12 Hours of Sebring on Saturday, March 19. He will be competing for Corvette Racing in the #04 Compuware Corvette C6.R with Jan Magnussen and Richard Westbrook.