OLIVER GAVIN ON THE 2007 LE MANS 24 HOURS LIKELY TO BE THE TOUGHEST ONE YET With a third of the American Le Mans Series season already completed, and a very healthy lead in the GT1 Drivers' points table to his name, you'd think that Corvette...
OLIVER GAVIN ON THE 2007 LE MANS 24 HOURS LIKELY TO BE THE TOUGHEST ONE YET
With a third of the American Le Mans Series season already completed, and a very healthy lead in the GT1 Drivers' points table to his name, you'd think that Corvette Racing's Oliver Gavin would be super-confident about the challenge of the 24 Hours of Le Mans in a month's time.
As a four-time winner of the GT1 (/GTS) class in the last five years, the Northamptonshire based driver certainly doesn't lack experience at the world's most famous sportscar track. He is, however, realistic enough to admit that his rivals might have a far better chance than in previous years of preventing he and his team mates in the number 64 Corvette C6.R from extending his success record.
"Le Mans is going to be very tough this year," says Oliver. "We know already that Aston Martin is super quick there and we have a smaller air restrictor which will limit our power output by about 5%. Aston Martin has lost the GT1 race in the last two years by making mistakes so they'll be determined to avenge those losses. They know they have the speed, and that we haven't got any faster over the last 12 months, so we will be relying on strategy, discipline and the strength of the Corvette car. I hope it will be really hot (because our air conditioning is fantastic!) and that maybe something untoward will happen to the opposition. You can certainly never discount Corvette Racing from any endurance race.
"The whole 2007 GT1 class is very strong," continued Gavin, "and the Oreca Saleens will present as much of a challenge as the Aston Martins -- they've been very fast and consistent at both the Le Mans Series races so far this year. I'm not sure how reliable the car is, but I imagine they will be well prepared and pushing the Astons and Corvettes very hard. Some of the other privateer Astons also have good driver line ups and will be in the mix so the pressure will be on 100% of the time. I can see us having to settle for 5th or 6th place in qualifying -- we won't be challenging for pole, that's for sure -- but we won't be racing for anything less than victory when it comes to 3 o'clock on Saturday, 16th June."
As the GT1 opposition in the American Le Mans Series has been limited, the team and drivers' main focus has been to get themselves as well prepared as possible for Le Mans. In every round of the Series so far, the aim has been to keep sharp and race-ready for the biggest and most important challenge of the year.
For 2007 Oliver and his regular team mate, Olivier Beretta of Monaco, will be breaking from a three-year tradition as their endurance driving partner Jan Magnussen will be part of the #63 Corvette's driver line up. In his place they will have the highly experienced and long-time Corvette team member, Max Papis. The trio have already had one taste of the podium's top step when they drove to victory at the 12 Hours of Sebring in March.