Gavin: “You can never really count anybody out”

Earlier in the year, caught up with Oliver Gavin, for at talk about the Corvette Racing programme, and the anniversary of the brand in sportscar racing.

Not only did he do the 24 Hours of Le Mans back in June, but will be back in the FIA World Endurance Championship, racing the Corvette Racing C7R #64 in Shanghai in two weeks’ time, under the Redline/Mobil 1 banner.

But his first Le Mans experience wasn’t actually with Corvette Racing.

“It was actually my 18th Le Mans, my 17th with Corvette. I drove one with Saleen in their S7R.

“I drove with Jon Field, Intersport Racing. That was a Lola Judd, and I raced with him on and off for two seasons. So that was 2000 and 2001. We won at Phoenix and Mid-Ohio, I think, in 2001. But it got me started in sportscar racing, and then I moved to Saleen, and then I moved here.”

Gavin had Jan Magnussen and Oliver Gavin as teammates for some years, before getting teamed up with Tommy Milner in the #64 and #4 in the ALMS and currently in the WeatherTech Sportscar Championship.

He has a total of five victories in the great race, but didn’t finish this years edition.

It must be nice to be in the same environment for so many years – you know everything, and everything is in the same place?

“It’s pretty amazing, that I’ve had such a long career with Corvette Racing, and I feel extremely lucky, to be have worked with such a good team, for so long – such a great group of guys, engineers, drivers. I’ve got to drive some amazing cars, and I got to achieve some really amazing victories and goals, that I never really dreamt I would have the chance to. First of all, to come here and compete at Le Mans, I thought that was a pretty distant dream, when I was a boy. But then to be able to come here and race for such a competitive team, and then actually having a chance to win, and then actually win, and then stand on the top step – that is what you dream of as a boy. I feel that it’s been a great and successful career with Corvette, and I’m looking to add a few more chapters to it. It’s been a huge amount of fun.”

Oliver Gavin
Photo: JJ Media

And it’s still the same buzz after all these years, coming to Le Mans?

“Yep, I was picked up by my crew chief, my number one mechanic, at the train station on Saturday evening, and he drove me in, and just that final little drive in, and you see the gates of the track, and you get the buzz and feeling, the hair standing on the back of your neck, you can come here for another year, it’s pretty amazing. Saturday afternoon, when you are all out there, line up on the grid, and the crowd, and the buzz, and the ceremonies going and, and the national anthems – it’s pretty special.”

How do you feel about the car this year – it’s faster than last year.

“I think that we have improved the package, and that we have moved ourselves forward, from where we last year. That’s exactly what you wanna do, and we know that everyone else is improving all the time. When ever you get this many manufactures competing in a class, the level of the teams that we are competing against, things are gonna move pretty quickly, development is gonna move very fast.  That’s something that we have got to continue to work hard at. And we know that we have a little be more that we can find, but we don’t know if that is good enough. But nobody remembers who is on Pole – everybody remembers who is on the top step on Sunday at 3 o’clock, so that’s what we are aiming for at Le Mans.”

The team has only been present in the FIA World Endurance Championship at Le Mans this season, but with such a close competition, they have to fight to the end. Just like we saw at Le Mans 2017, where Corvette Racing #63 lost the win just a few minutes before the end of the race, due to a slow puncture. So even the race in Shanghai can throw up a few surprises.

“You can never really count anybody out, I don’t think. All the manufacturers have done so much testing, they have got themselves pretty well prepared. They have all got fantastic line ups, so I don’t think that you can count anybody out.”

The 6 Hours of Shanghai will be run on Sunday 18 November.

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