Corvette Racing’s Oliver Gavin is likely, with massive British reserve and understatement, to look back on today as “a good day”.
The 39-year-old long-time GM factory driver not only won today’s ninth and penultimate round of the 2012 American Le Mans Series at Virginia International Raceway, but he also won his fourth ALMS Drivers’ Championship title, secured for Chevrolet the Manufacturers’ Championship and for Corvette Racing the Teams’ title. And all on his 100th start in the ALMS.
The victory, Olly’s 38th career ALMS win and his fourth of the season, was in fact a dominant display by both he and team mate Tommy Milner of safe, sensible and smooth driving. Starting from third place on the GT grid, but with nearest championship rivals either side of him, the Corvette stalwart could have been forgiven for feeling some trepidation at what might happen during the four hours of racing ahead.
But, as Olly explains, some things just work out right. “Everything worked for us today, right from first corner on the first lap where there was a huge mess, with cars everywhere. I think I was most probably only millimetres away from hitting an LMP car but he just got out of the way in time and the danger evaporated. As I went through the gap I thought, “this is definitely our day”. It was meant to be.
“Tommy drove brilliantly for the middle two hours and never made a mistake; he was fantastic. By the time I got in for the final hour Dirk Muller in the BMW had a problem with his car and we had a fairly clean run through to the finish. As has been for quite lot of the year, we navigated our way through issues and problems and didn’t make any mistakes.”
After dedicating his victory to his mother, who has been suffering from ill-health, the overjoyed driver had an opportunity to briefly reflect on how the Championship title had been captured at VIR. “We have always been fast and therefore in the right place to capitalise on anyone else’s mistakes, and today was a relatively easy race. Yes, we had a bit of luck in avoiding the first lap pile-up, but we knew from the start that if we made no mistakes we’d be in a position to win the race. We had a fast car and could race anyone, but all the time we kept the pressure on and the pit stops going. That’s really been the key to our successful season: everyone’s performed at the highest level and delivered.”
The final jewel in the 2012 crown would be another victory at the final round of the season, the 1000-mile or ten hour Petit Le Mans event on 20th October. Few would bet against the Gavin/Milner partnership at the moment.