ON A ROLL - 8TH WIN COMES TO THE 'OLLIES' Oliver Gavin and Olivier Beretta continued their amazing winning streak and took their 8th consecutive American Le Mans Series GT1 victory at round 3 of the series at the Mid Ohio Sports Car Course,...
ON A ROLL - 8TH WIN COMES TO THE 'OLLIES'
Oliver Gavin and Olivier Beretta continued their amazing winning streak and took their 8th consecutive American Le Mans Series GT1 victory at round 3 of the series at the Mid Ohio Sports Car Course, Ohio, today. The duo finished 5th overall and just 1.8 seconds ahead of their team mates Ron Fellows and Johnny O'Connell, and one lap ahead of their rivals Aston Martin. It was a record-breaking day for Gavin and Beretta as they set the mark for most consecutive GT1 wins, a run that began in July 2005.
Going forward from Houston to Mid Ohio, we knew the racing in our GT1 class would be as close as it's ever been but we really cherish the opportunity to have real competition. Our Corvettes still carried the disadvantage of the weight and restrictor penalties, and we knew that the Mid Ohio circuit would probably suit the Aston Martins better than Houston had.
It was pretty close between the four GT1 cars in each of the practices and then it was my turn to qualify yesterday afternoon. We struggled with understeer in that session, and perhaps I overdrove the car in some of the high-speed corners, but I lost out on pole to Tomas Enge by just three hundredths of a second. It's what the fans wanted, it's what the series wanted, but I'm not sure it's what we wanted! Having said that, both Olivier and I had every confidence we could bring home a win as the strength of Corvette Racing is its knowledge, its attention to detail, and its race strategy.
When we woke up this morning and saw the heavy rain, we were convinced it was going to be a wet race but it dried up in good time and the track was completely dry by the time the race started. This was quite a relief as, in the wet, it could have been a nightmare - slick and slippery. The track surface here was strange because it's so new and smooth, and it did strange things with the tyres. Sometimes it felt like there was lots of grip and next time around there was none, plus it felt different on new tyres to old. If you got off line, and picked up rubbish, it took a long time to clean them off again.
It was a bizarre start to the race because as we came around the first corner they dropped the green flag quite early and caught everyone by surprise. They started backing off, and I did the same briefly, but saw the flag waving and a gap appearing, so shot through the middle of it. I got past the Aston and a couple of other cars.
We had quite a big lead after the first stint, but a yellow came out and Tomas was right on it after the re-start. They have a big straight line speed advantage and he would have been away from us had he not had the puncture. We'd got things sorted out and were running in the class lead again when another yellow came out and we all concertina-ed back together. Aston Martin had the fastest car today but they were unlucky with the yellows flag periods and went a lap down. Olivier drove brilliantly and kept us in the lead for the remainder of the race, but we were being chased hard by Ron in our sister car. He was a bit quicker than us at the end, although Olivier was being told to run at a pace and not do anything crazy. In the end, the outcome of the race was probably decided when Ron got a stop/go penalty for a pit lane infringement although they had never been in front of us for the whole race.
The C6.R was just magic today and it performed brilliantly. The engineers and crew did a superb job, and it was a pleasure to drive. The grip was getting better and the lap times quicker as the fuel load burned off, and the car stayed under me for my entire stint. As Olivier said, it was fast and strong the whole way.
It's a perfect way to be going to Le Mans, with another win behind us, and all the guys on our car are very confident but we realise that the Aston Martins are going to be back on form and very strong so we can't take anything for granted. That said, this is strongest package we've ever taken to Le Mans - the engine, Michelin tyres, the chassis, driver line-up - and everyone if feeling happy and looking forward to it.