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Continental Tire IMSA Driver Spotlight: Oliver Gavin

This week’s Continental Tire IMSA Driver Spotlight, Oliver Gavin…

Photo: IMSA

Photo: IMSA

Driver Spotlight: Oliver Gavin
Driver, No. 4 Corvette Racing Corvette C7.R
Follow: @OliverGavin

How has testing gone on the new C7.R, and how do you feel you’ll stack up in what’s a ‘new-look’ GTLM?

“We did Sebring for two days, then two at Daytona, and the car was good to get back in. There’s some good upgrades. We haven’t really run anywhere where you can experience the full downforce for a sustained period. We only did a short run on the long course at Sebring. But the impressions out of the gate seemed very positive.

“It should be a really interesting year. You’ve got BMW with a new car. Obviously there’s the Ford, which is a real unknown, but you can see from what they have on paper that it looks amazingly strong.

“And Ferrari are always impressive. They always come with a well-sorted piece of machinery. Aston might be there as well. Porsche is in a transition year, but we’ll see. All in all I think it’s shaping to be a fantastic class in our series, and at Le Mans. I can’t see a weak link at the moment.”

You always want to win, but given the natural rivalry, is there extra motivation to beat Ford?

“It’s always interesting to have that hometown sort of rivalry between GM and Ford. We’re the guys who have been here on the field of play for many years, and they’re coming in. It should be very interesting to see how they approach things.

“We’ll experience the full strength by the time of the Roar and the race itself. We know also a number of drivers have moved there. We know how they tick, and what they can do. It’s a really intriguing season ahead.”

While it was a tough year in America, what did the win at Le Mans mean?

“It was an extraordinary week when I look back on it. The way it all unfolded, the problems with 63 car, them being out of the race. The huge hole it left for a couple days there. The team was really devastated to have lost that one car. Everyone picked themselves up for race. We still had one car, and everything was behind us.

“We started from the back, we hadn’t shown great pace in practice or qualifying but it came alive in the race. We started to drive to the front. We had a fantastic, titanic battle with the 51 and 99 cars. We led 12 times through the race, switching backwards and forwards. There was some real pivotal points. The 99 car had contact with a prototype that took them effectively out of the race, in the night.

“We were then battling backwards and forwards with the 51 car. Then it had it gearbox issues when we were 25 seconds behind, with a couple hours to go. Once it all unfolded, you were in this position, where you’re five laps ahead of second, 40 miles ahead. And you start thinking of all sorts of things. I was in the car. It started raining.

“I was thinking, ‘It was probably better to be in the car rather than standing in pit box.’ Jordan couldn’t watch! When it’s raining, anything can go wrong, you’re in the fence and you’re out and the dream of winning is snatched away from you.

“But everyone in the team drove brilliantly. Jordan and Tommy drove fantastically throughout the whole. It was one of those absolutes, where it ran like clockwork. I don’t think we took the hood off, or the rear deck. When you have a race like that, it was perfect execution.”

How was Jordan Taylor’s transition from the 63 into the 64 car?

“He fit really, really well. It was great to see that young energy he brought, that quirkiness he brings sometimes… but it keeps you on your toes a little. Great to see him and have him in the team.

“He did a brilliant job. You can see how every year he’s gone to Le Mans, he progressed. This year he got the fastest lap in our car. He did a fantastic job.”

Have you had time to relax and enjoy any non-racing items this offseason?

“It’s just great to be home. I have done some racing in Australia, some in Europe, so there’s been plenty of backs and forth.

“Here, I can get on with looking after my 400-year-old house. Three children and a wife, I’m delighted to be home to see them. Taking my son to soccer training, daughter to hockey, son to choir, or just being around… it’s just fantastic.

“I’m running a lot, getting ready for the season. I might do some running races at the beginning of next year. I have some competition with the ‘Mexican Missile’ (Antonio Garcia)… as he’s pretty quick on his two feet.”

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