IT'S GREAT TO BE BACK RACING AGAIN! With the past three rounds of the American Le Mans Series now under his belt, as a fully paid-up member of the super-competitive GT2 class, Corvette Racing's Oliver Gavin reflects on how exciting and fun ...
IT'S GREAT TO BE BACK RACING AGAIN!
With the past three rounds of the American Le Mans Series now under his belt, as a fully paid-up member of the super-competitive GT2 class, Corvette Racing's Oliver Gavin reflects on how exciting and fun the racing has been and looks forward to the prestigious Petit Le Mans event at Road Atlanta, Georgia.
"Being back in the ALMS has been fantastic. When you are away for a number of races, and you then return, you realise how good the championship is; the atmosphere, the people, the quality of the drivers and teams in it - it never seems to drop and is always high.
"Going into the GT2 class, I think it's fair to say that everyone at Corvette Racing has been a little surprised that the racing has been so close and so tight. There's the four manufacturers, Porsche, Ferrari, BMW and GM, all glued together at the moment. Whether we take our first race at Mid Ohio or Road America or Mosport, every single car in that class had a possibility of running at the front or winning which makes for great racing and a huge amount of fun.
"It's been a real shot in the arm for everyone at Corvette after having effectively just raced ourselves in GT1 for a couple of seasons. To battle it out against Ferrari at Mosport, the BMWs and Porsche at Mid Ohio and Road America... there are so many memories from just those three races. I look back and think that was really good fun on the race track!
"I can compare it with Corvette's racing against Prodrive -- both with the Ferrari 550 and the Aston Martin. You've got some exceptional drivers in a very good team at a very high level, and every single mistake is punished -- whether it's on your side or theirs. You know you've got to be running at the optimum the whole time, and that only serves to make you as a driver and the team better. That's one of the reasons why we're so excited to be in this class, as it's going to raise our level even more.
"Looking forward now to Petit Le Mans, I'd say it will be a huge challenge for us. The fact that we've got so many prototypes coming from Europe -- including the Peugeots, Audis and ORECA car -- it's going to make it a very challenging event. You've got to take it all into account; the traffic, passing, just being around and on the track with those super-fast cars and at Atlanta there are some particularly unforgiving parts of the track. Coming down through Turns 3, 4 5 (as Jan Magnussen found out a couple of years ago) if you have contact there with a prototype you're pretty much straight off into the wall. You're going to come off second best.
"We know there's all those hurdles to overcome and we know the likes of BMW, Ferrari and Porsche are going to be exceptionally quick there and we're going to have to be right on top of our game to be in with a decent shout. This car hasn't run anywhere near that amount of time all in one go yet, so it's a bit of an unknown how reliability is going to be. We've tested, and we've looked and seen and carried over some parts from the GT1 car in terms of transmission and other bits and pieces, but you're still not sure when you've got all those pieces together in a brand new car and a brand new set of circumstances how everything's going to work out.
"Going there off the back of a victory at Mosport is fantastic, but at Petit Le Mans there will be a lot more pit stops, restarts, cold tyres in the night, full tanks of fuel and so on. We'll also have three drivers as Marcel Fassler will be back with us, but we don't look at that as being a negative in any way. For Olivier [Beretta] and me, it was a huge plus and positive to come out of Le Mans and see the way Marcel had fitted in during the race. He was absolute dynamite. He had a bit of a spin early on but showed real character and mettle as he put that straight behind him and knuckled down and focussed. He was as fast as anybody in that car after that point; he's a class act and an exceptional driver. Olivier and I are delighted to have him as part of our team."