The busy lead into the 12 Hours of Sebring

The busy lead in to 2013

It’s been a busy few months for Olly, Corvette Racing’s senior factory driver and current American Le Mans Series GT Driver Champion.  There’s been little chance to rest and relax since the end of the 2012 season with testing for the 2013 season, racing at the Daytona 24 Hours, corporate GM duties in Europe and precious family time, but that’s how the tall Briton prefers it.

A special Sebring…

First race of the year and a championship to hold on to!

Coming into this last 12 hours of Sebring, in its current form, is a bit like if you’re reading a really good book and you’re on the final chapter.  You desperately want to finish it to see what happens, but you don’t want it to end!

The ALMS has been a huge part of my career and fantastic throughout, and Sebring has always been the beginning of the full championship season for most of us.  I’ve got lots of fond memories, and it’s a kind of ‘back to school’ feeling with everyone seeing each other again after the winter months.  Some years it’s been exceptionally tough, due to the weather, the competition, the circuit itself, or maybe having a new car which isn’t as easy to set up or drive as in other years.  Sebring always throws up lots of unusual elements and I’m sure this year won’t disappoint.

GT:  let the battles begin…

For Tommy and me, starting the season as current GT Driver Champions is obviously an added bonus but we know that it’s not going to be easy holding on to that title.  You can’t take your eye off  BMW for a second and, now they are on Michelin rubber like us, I think they are one of our biggest threats.  They are phenomenally well engineered, very well experienced with this car and it looks aggressive.  In fact, it looks like they’ve moved the goal posts again for the GTE category and we’re now not far from where we were with GT1.

They are going to be tough opposition but so are many others.  It’s great that the Risi Ferrari is coming back and they seem to have had a good test at Sebring.  The Vipers still have all the waivers from last year and are going to be competitive… and then there’s Aston Martin.  Every time I have been in contact with Darren [Turner] recently he’s either just been testing, is away or is about to go away testing again.  They are working really hard on every area; they really want to win this year.

Swiss clockwork….

The production version of the new Corvette C7 was launched in Detroit in early January and last week I went to the Geneva Motor Show in Switzerland for GM Europe to help launch the convertible version.  The company used the occasion to highlight its commercial association with Manchester United Football Club and I drove the car onto the stage in Geneva with Dwight Yorke, a MUFC legend.

The advent of both the production version and its racing sister are very exciting for all at Corvette Racing and a chassis is currently at Pratt & Miller (who develop, build and operate GM’s Corvette racers).  I sat in the base chassis at the end of last year looking at pedal and steering positions, how the cockpit will be laid out and so on.  It won’t be radically different to the C6.R in its interior layout, although one of the big changes will be a move away from pedals which are mounted from above the foot-well to the more usual floor mounted pedals like other cars.  We start testing in the middle of the year and can’t wait to see how it’ll be on the track.

 

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