Oliver Gavin says it was a “pretty special” day, having achieved a milestone 50th career victory with Corvette Racing in Saturday’s Bubba Burger Sports Car Grand Prix at Long Beach.
The Englishman and co-driver Tommy Milner took the No. 4 Corvette C7.R to their second consecutive class win on the streets of Long Beach, following another hard-fought battle in the highly competitive GT Le Mans class.
Gavin, who joined the Pratt & Miller-run squad in 2002, remarkably has been a part of nearly half of the team’s 107 wins in its program history, including five of the manufacturer’s eight triumphs in the 24 Hours of Le Mans as well as Corvette Racing’s 100th win at Lime Rock 2016.
“Starting back in 2002, it was a bit of a dream to drive for Corvette Racing,” he said. “And to be here now, and have 50 victories, is pretty special.
“Today was a real battle and about keeping the car clean and trying to be smart. That’s the way we’ve won so many races over the years.”
Milner, who notched his 16th career IMSA win in Saturday’s 100-minute race, brought the car home in deteriorating track conditions that nearly caught him out on the final lap.
A slight miscue in the hairpin, the same place where he lost a likely class honors in 2016, nearly denied them victory again.
“The pressure was on in the end,” Gavin said. “The circuit looked horrible to drive and a very narrow line.
“To see everybody struggling, there was the last lap, last corner heart-in-the-mouth moment Tommy had. It seems that the last lap, last corner for us is a bit of a thing!”
While moving into sixth in all-time IMSA wins, Gavin is quick to credit the team and co-drivers around him for playing key roles in his milestone achievement.
“I’m just a small cog in this big mechanism that is Corvette Racing,” he said.
“When you look at the teammates I’ve had, whether it’s the guys I’ve shared the car with when I very first started, with Kelly Collins and Andy Pilgrim or Tommy, Richard Westbrook, Olivier Beretta… It’s been an amazing group of guys to work with as teammates.
“The crew, those guys have been outstanding, in leading the field in the way they’ve been able to execute races, whether it’s pit stops, strategy, car setup or just putting the car together. It’s been exceptional.
“That is always a thing. Some victories we’ve had in the GT1 era, you could say we were racing against two or three people there.
“But here, right now, it’s immense, with the competition and intensity of the racing.
“Whether you’re looking at the BMW, Porsche, Ford GT… What we’ve got with the C7.R, it’s a relatively experienced vehicle in the class and it shown that at Long Beach today.
“It is a great amount of satisfaction when you stand here on the top step, particularly when you know you’ve beaten the teams, those manufacturers and the drivers. It’s a high bar and to have been able to achieve that is pretty special.”