Oliver drove the No.4 Corvette C6R to a fourth place finish at Long Beach this evening after a tough race through the concrete barriers that define this narrow and punishing street course. The result offered enough points to allow Oliver and his team mate Tommy Milner to maintain their place at the top of the American Le Mans Series GT Drivers’ standings, albeit now tied with BMW’s Bill Auberlen and Maxime Martin.
The pair, who won the opening round of the final ALMS season, the 12 Hours of Sebring, endured a tough day in California but overcame a pit stop delay, avoided the bumping and banging of the super-tight competition, and worked their strategy within the three full course caution periods which fell within the first of the two-hour race. The pace of the car was not in question, as witnessed by the fact that Olly set a new fastest GT race lap record!
Olly acknowledged that, in light of the above, things turned out better than expected. “As it turned out fourth was a good finish for us and I think that, when we look back, to have got those points and still lead the championship, it could have been a lot worse. We made a different tyre choice to our competitors, and we could have got collected in quite a few different incidents through the race, but we managed to keep our nose clean and walked away with an unscathed car. We can now move on to Laguna still in good shape.”
An errant wheel gun delayed the No.4 in the pits, but Olly was full of praise for his Milner’s contribution to the result. “Tommy drove well again today, used his head and didn’t get into any incidents, handing the car over in a good spot. We were looking very good at that pit stop where we changed over, and we were very quick with the seat belts and so on, but unfortunately we had an issue with the right front gun. It got stuck on the wheel and then the steering got pulled to one side, the steering wheel got spun round and I couldn’t get the steering wheel on the column because it was out of position.”
The tall Briton, current GT Drivers’ Champion, feels that the Corvette has the potential to win another championship but it will need some luck along the way. “I think we have the package to compete and fight with everybody for the championship. When we got out of the pits we had to salvage what we could and thought we’d have to settle for fifth. I was following Jan down into Turn One with maybe 20 minutes to go and he had a huge moment, locked the right front and then the rears, and I don’t know how he managed to keep the car out of the wall but he did. I managed to sneak by and got the 4th place but both of us by that stage were beginning to struggle with our tires.
“It’s going to be a very, very competitive season and I think everybody will be taking points off one another and plenty of different winners. Roll on Laguna for another shot at victory!”