THE END OF A RUN BUT NOT THE END OF THE ROAD The end of a glorious 9-race run of victories had to come some time for Briton Oliver Gavin and MonÃ©gasque Olivier Beretta, and it came with a bang (crash and wallop) this weekend at the American...
THE END OF A RUN BUT NOT THE END OF THE ROAD
The end of a glorious 9-race run of victories had to come some time for Briton Oliver Gavin and Monégasque Olivier Beretta, and it came with a bang (crash and wallop) this weekend at the American Le Mans Series' fourth round at Lime Rock Park in Connecticut.
"Well, it wasn't our weekend at all. Things didn't go right, a bit of a disaster", said Oliver. True to his professional form though, he was able to look past the difficulties the no.4 Corvette C6.R experienced on track and remind himself that valuable Championship points were scored to keep the two 'Ollies' at the head of the GT1 Drivers' title chase.
Oliver, who admits that the very narrow and bumpy, 1.54 mile, Lime Rock track is not one of his favourites, here explains how his weekend unfolded.
"Right from the start, throughout practice and even in qualifying, the car didn't handle well. In the end the problem was traced to the one side of the nose being slightly lower than the other. The nose, with its critical aerodynamic profile, affects the balance of the car massively and the problem particularly upset the entry of the car into the corners. By the time it was traced and fixed, we'd already had qualifying and we ended up 3rd in class. It's quite difficult to pass at Lime Rock as it's so narrow so it wasn't ideal but we knew we had a good race car by this stage so weren't too worried.
"It was Olivier's turn to start and finish, with me doing the middle stint, and he had an action packed time. He was baulked by other cars, had contact with Sarrazin's Aston Martin 009 which tipped them both into spins and then had a big off after contact with Chris Dyson's LMP1 prototype. Unfortunately this led to a big thump into the barriers and being mired in the mud which surrounds the track.
"Once the car was brought back to the pits, the crew did a fantastic job to change the nose, the engine undertray, and replace a broken tie rod end, clean off the mud and change tyres -- all in 17 minutes. Superb! It seems though that, in their anxiety to get the car off pit lane and into the awning to do the work, more than the maximum of 4 people touched the car and I had to serve a 3-minute penalty for this infringement during my stint. As I said, it wasn't our day.
"We've decided this is one race we have to write off to experience. We've still got a 12 point lead in the Championship and now move on to Salt Lake which is new for all of us. The Corvettes will have a smaller restrictor for the next round, as well as the 199 pounds weight penalty and smaller fuel tank so on paper we wouldn't appear to start as favourites. However, we NEVER give up at Corvette and we'll keep going for those points, however they come to us. Miami 2003 was the last time I was off the podium and it's not a feeling I like!"