Olly Gavin, team-mate Jan Magnussen and their Corvette C6R survived two hours of close combat to finish second in the American Le Mans Series at Long Beach, the second round of the series.
The BMW of Dirk Mueller and Joey Hand was first across the line, the race finishing under yellow caution flags, and the Corvette was followed home by the Risi Ferrari. The great points finish takes the British/Danish pairing to second in the GT Drivers’ points standings.
Not even Los Angeles’ notorious rush hour could rival the traffic on the historic 1.968-mile, 11-turn temporary course. With 29 starters on the concrete-lined circuit, close calls and contact were commonplace, although only two full-course cautions slowed the race. Gavin started the No. 4 Corvette second on the GT grid and held that position through the opening segment, which was interrupted by a lengthy full-course caution after only five minutes of racing. When the action resumed, Olly took the lead with an opportunistic move.
“The start was crazy, with lots of bumping and banging and cars spinning in strange places,” he explained. “It took the first caution for everyone to get back together, and then the LMPC cars were getting in the way. It all started when the Bill Auberlen’s BMW behind me disappeared. On the next lap he was facing in the wrong direction on the track at the fountain turn! The other BMW, the GT race leader, went the wrong way, I went the right way, and I got myself into the lead.
“I was struggling with a couple of settings on the car,” continued Olly, “and losing a lot of traction; the rear was getting very nervous but I just about held everyone off until Pat Long got by me. I tried to control everyone behind me but people were going everywhere. In the end both the BMW and Porsche got by me and I had Scott Sharp’s Ferrari in front of me, nearly a lap down. Unfortunately he was driving over-defensively and that backed me up to everyone else. By this time my rear tires were worn out and I was trying to just about to keep the car on the road, but at our pit stop we changed a couple of things for Jan and that made it competitive again.”
Hand’s BMW and Patrick Long’s Porsche subsequently got around the Corvette, but Long soon encountered the wall and the Porsche eventually retired. As green-flag pit stops began shortly after the one-hour mark, Gavin handed over the No. 4 Corvette to Magnussen.
“I’m really very happy with second place, and to get the opportunity to bet some more points. Jan was able to show the potential of the car and I think we should have really been able to fight the BMWs but right now I still think they’re managing us.”