DETROIT, Dec. 6 - With the 2001 season and a manufacturers' championship barely under its belt, Corvette Racing has named Oliver Gavin of Great Britain to its team for 2002. Gavin, a roadracing veteran, will contest the 24 Hours of Le Mans and three American Le Mans Series (ALMS) races for Corvette Racing.
Gavin, 29, replaces Scott Pruett, who filled in mid-season last year after driver Chris Kneifel accepted the position of chief steward for Championship Auto Racing Teams. In addition to Le Mans, Gavin will compete at Sebring in March, at Road America in July and in the Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta in October.
"Olly brings a wealth of experience gained in some of the roadracing world's most competitive series to our stable of drivers," said Doug Fehan, program manager for Corvette Racing. "He has the balance of skills and experience that will compliment those of our other drivers as we defend our ALMS manufacturers' championship and look to repeat as GTS class winners at Le Mans."
Gavin began his racing career in the 1980s in karting, where he successfully competed in a number of British national series. In 1990, he moved to the British National Formula First Series, which he won in 1991, capturing 11 victories in 12 races. He was runner up in the British Formula Vauxhall Championship in 1992 and in the British Formula 3 Championship in 1993.
In 1994, he was crowned FIA International F3000 champion, then complimented that win in 1995 by becoming British Formula 3 champion. While competing in a variety of series between 1996 and 2000, he continued his success in International F3000, winning the championship again in 1997.
He most recently drove for Park Place Racing/Fordahl Motorsports, where he drove an S7R Saleen in the GTS class of the American Le Mans Series. During 2001, he also drove for the Saleen Speedlab factory team at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, where he set the fastest lap time and track record in the GTS class during qualifying and finished third in class behind the two C5-R Corvettes.
"I'm delighted to join Ron (Fellows), Johnny (O'Connell), Andy (Pilgrim), Kelly (Collins) and Franck (Freon) to defend the C5-R's titles at Le Mans and in the ALMS," said Gavin. "The Corvette is a legend -- a thoroughbred -- and the chance to drive it and prove myself with these champions is an incredible honor."
"Corvette is eager to get back on the track after such a dominant season last year," said Rick Baldick, Corvette brand manager. "Corvette's role as the reigning GTS champion for both the ALMS and Le Mans reinforces its role as America's performance icon for Chevrolet and General Motors. Oliver's experience and competitiveness will be a great asset to us."
Gavin joins Corvette Racing as the team begins its preparations for the 2002 ALMS season, which starts with the 12 Hours of Sebring on March 13. The cadre of C5-R drivers will participate in a number of testing sessions prior to the Florida endurance event, then continue to work their way through the 10-event ALMS calendar, plus compete in the 24 Hours of Le Mans in June.
Racing production-based vehicles is a long-standing tradition with Chevrolet. The GM engineers who work on the Corvette C5-R race cars work closely with their production-car counterparts to ensure that what is learned at the track feeds back to production to benefit present and future Corvettes. In addition to the Corvettes, Chevrolet's other brands of cars and trucks, including Camaro, Monte Carlo, Silverado and S-10 also have a winning reputation on the racetrack.
General Motors, through its Cadillac, Chevrolet, GMC, Holden, Oldsmobile, Opel, Pontiac, Saab and Vauxhall brands, is involved in motorsport across the globe.