Three seemed to be the magic number for our weekend at Road America after qualifying 3rd, finishing 3rd and taking our 3rd podium placing from six races this year in the ALMS. Luckily there was one important number one amongst all those threes!
For my team mate Tommy Milner and me, our finishing place gave us enough points to bump us back up into the lead of the GT Drivers’ points’ classification ahead of Dirk Muller and our team mates, Jan and Antonio, who were also on the podium.
After having had a nice sunny, breezy week the rain which started coming down a couple of hours before the start of the race was a bit of a surprise and not a welcome one. It was still raining a bit as Tommy set out in our No.4 Corvette C6.R and there was a lot of spray and jostling for position as the 33-strong field set off.
We stopped for fuel under the first of the four full course caution periods, but then had to pit again for slicks just a few laps later as the track was rapidly drying. Tommy then continued until the second of the four caution periods but was struggling to make up the lost ground in the conditions and against the really fast Vipers.
When he came in for the driver change we 8th in GT but we left the pits in 3rd so I can’t really say I’m disappointed with the result at all as it was a spectacular job by the guys.
I managed to get past the Ferrari at the re-start – there was a little bit of rubbing and contact – and then the #91 Viper was coming up on me really fast. We knew it was going to be really close between them and us but they had a lot of straight line speed and we also had to factor in saving fuel to get to the end without having to make another stop.
The #48 Porsche was very fast on the straight – it was completely past me at one point going into Turn 5 and I had to out-brake him going into the corner and managed to sneak by him. I knew that once he’d got by me I wouldn’t have a chance to get back past him again. It was nip and tuck!
The Viper then got a really good run on me as we came onto the front straight and I don’t think Mark [Goossens] had seen the Dyson P1 car and they touched on the front straight. I thought there was going to be a big wreck but fortunately that didn’t happen. It was definitely all happening in the final part of the race.
The whole time through that last 45 minutes we were trying to save fuel but maintain our position in a big train of cars. The Viper got me and was then onto Antonio but it was all going to be down to fuel. The final safety car period came out with about ten minutes to go and to be honest it was a real disappointment as I’d worked so hard to save the fuel and stay in the race and we were right there, we would have made it. The Viper was apparently on fuel reserve on the final lap even with the safety car – it was very close for many of us but I think we had enough to do it and we could have possibly won.
I’m thrilled to be back in the points lead though and to follow up our win in Canada with another podium. Now we look towards Baltimore which is always fun – more street fighting to stay at the top!
So this is the last Oliver Gavin ‘In The Cockpit’ column as we say goodbye to SPEED and hello to FOX Sports in a few days. A big thank you to everyone at SPEED for giving me the chance to share what’s going on in my racing life, and especially to John Dagys for his support. Best of luck to you all for the rest of the racing season – whether you are in the cockpit or out of it!ALMS, Corvette Racing, Road America, Sports Cars