Oliver Gavin at the Sebring 12 Hours

Oliver Gavin at the Sebring 12 Hours

I’ve been doing this long enough now to know that the harder a victory, the sweeter it is, but I’d be happy if we didn’t have to put that to the test again this season! The Sebring 12 Hours was a brilliant start to our 2013 ALMS title bid; winning it by 2.7 seconds after 12 hard hours of racing and two setbacks just proved what a team Corvette Racing is.

I hadn’t won at Sebring since 2007 and it was a first for both Tommy Milner and Richard Westbrook so it meant an awful lot. It was also the last ALMS Sebring as we know it, due to the impending united ALMS/Grand Am series, and a pretty emotional experience. We don’t yet know exactly how next year or the future will look, but hope that the many Grand-Am officials who were at Sebring will have appreciated what a great event it is.

oliver gavin  Oliver Gavin at the Sebring 12 Hours

Among the 12 entries in the class, we had plenty of tough opposition from the Vipers, the Risi Ferrari and the Porsches but knew we had a good chance to do well. BMW was pretty quiet in practice and qualifying but you can never count them out at any time, as they proved in the race.

I managed to put us on the front row of the GT grid and was really happy with the start I got, getting a jump on the pole-setting Ferrari of Gimmi Bruni. We pulled out a good lead but at almost quarter distance it all started to go wrong. Richard was at the wheel for the first of his stints and said that what happened was like an indoor firework going off!

We had a small electrical fire behind the dashboard which filled the cockpit with smoke. Fortunately Richard was at the final corner so he quickly peeled off into the pits, but the damage had already knocked out the pitlane speed limiter and we ended up not only losing time for repairs, but also had to serve a penalty for pitlane speeding. After that it was hard racing and some great work by the crew which got us back into fourth place around half distance.

Circumstances were conspiring against us though and we were unbelievably frustrated to find ourselves behind again when an unfortunate incident with another GT car saw Richard being penalised. Another incredible fightback, more slick work in the pits and a well-timed caution, and at the start of the final two hours we were 55 seconds behind the Risi Ferrari.

oliver gavin  Oliver Gavin at the Sebring 12 Hours

We set about chipping away at it, lap by lap. Tommy was absolutely brilliant in the last two hours, stringing together qualifying lap after qualifying lap. He put pressure on the Ferrari repeatedly until it paid off, 14 minutes before the end, but it was a nail-biter right to the chequered flag.

Condo Living

Sebring is the biggest race we do outside Le Mans and just like in France, it’s a whole week long. For many years the team has rented condos on a nearby golf course for the drivers so we have a ‘home from home’. This year the ‘runners’ – Antonio Garcia and I – were together, with Richard and Jordan Taylor sharing.

We ran every morning in the early part of the week, and Antonio has even got me an entry to the Madrid Marathon if I want it as the London event clashes with our next race at Long Beach. I’m tempted, but need to get that one by Mrs G first!

I don’t play much golf but Richard organised a game for us on Wednesday as it was a fairly free day. We were 3 teams of 2, effectively a 6-ball – plus a Corvette film crew – so you can imagine how popular we were with the locals! I was playing with Tommy and it didn’t start well but it turned out to be a bit of an omen for the race. Not to put too fine a point on it, we ended up playing a blinder.

Richard and Jordan Taylor were comfortably in the lead but, after 9 holes, Jan Magnussen had lost 13 balls (mostly in the water) and had to go and buy some more. He came back with fluorescent pink ones which clashed nicely with Tommy’s shorts and sunburnt legs but they did the trick. On the last hole I ended up getting an Eagle which stunned and delighted me, but left Richard’s face a picture! There’s nothing like competitive drivers in any sporting situation; expect to find Westy’s clubs on a well-known auction site soon, while my ladies’ rented clubs were returned with pride.

The wrong side of the law (and barriers)

oliver gavin  Oliver Gavin at the Sebring 12 Hours

The only down side to my Sebring week involved a brush with the law! First of all I found my rental car being towed away from a Corvette parking area – there I was, standing in my race suit trying to convince the official that I had the right to park there – and then with a local Sheriff at the end of the race.

I was trying to make my way over the barriers to get to our Corvette, which was parked on the front straight, to congratulate my team-mate. Apparently last year some photographers had got on to the track so the organisers asked for some more security and I got physically stopped to the point of an assault. Allan McNish experienced something similar trying to congratulate Marino Franchitti who won the P2 category, also being poked in the chest by the policeman. Thankfully we got through eventually – imagine how Tommy would have felt if there’d been no one there to meet him? You win as a team and you lose as a team… luckily for all of us, it was the former this time around, and what a win.

oliver gavin  Oliver Gavin at the Sebring 12 Hours

Motor Sport Magazine – The original motor racing magazine

Source: Motor Sport Mag

Summer 2013 at the Swift Gallery

Summer 2013 at the Swift Gallery

This summer there are be two very good reasons to visit the Swift Gallery in Stoke-on-Trent.

On Thursday June 6 there will be a special three course lunch with Sir Stirling Moss, featuring a charity auction in aid of the Henry Surtees Foundation. The foundation was set up by John Surtees following the death of his son Henry at a Formula 2 race at Brands Hatch in 2009 and aims to help young people train and find work as well as provide assistance to those injured in accidents.

events  Summer 2013 at the Swift Gallery

Moss needs no introduction, having become a legend in his own lifetime as the quintessential racer’s racer during the ‘50s and early ‘60s.

If you’d like to join Sir Stirling on June 6, tickets are on sale now and cost £100 each. Around half of the tickets have already been sold, so be quick if you want to reserve your spot.

Over the summer the gallery will also be exhibiting ‘From Red to Green’, a series of photographs documenting Britain’s rise to success during the 1950s. During the early part of the decade Italy was the dominant force in racing, but as the ‘60s drew near, the spoils went increasingly to the likes of Jaguar, Aston Martin, BRM, Lotus, Vanwall and Cooper. The latter two ended the decade with a Constructors’ Championship each and to this day Britain is still one of the biggest contributors to world motor sport.

events  Summer 2013 at the Swift Gallery

The collection has been selected from the archive of Jarrotts and will run every Thursday afternoon from June 13, as well as other times reserved by appointment. Visitors will have access to both the main collection of around 550 photos and the ‘From Red to Green’ exhibition of around 60 photos.

For more information, contact [email protected] or visit their website.

events  Summer 2013 at the Swift Gallery

Motor Sport Magazine – The original motor racing magazine

Source: Motor Sport Mag

2013 12 Hours of Sebring report

2013 12 Hours of Sebring report

If you have to leave, leave on a high. Say Auf Wiedersehen in style.

On Sunday March 17 the most successful endurance racing team of this century loaded their cars into the trucks and drove out through the gates of Sebring Raceway in Florida. The end of a chapter in the history of Sebring and the end of an era for Audi Sport.

As from 2014 the Sebring 12 Hours will be run to a new formula following the merger of ALMS and Grand-Am. No more LMP1 cars. No more Audis.

sports cars  2013 12 Hours of Sebring report

Never say never, however. The new United SportsCar Racing series is yet to publish final regulations and the men from Ingolstadt may well be back before the decade is out. North America is a very important market for their road cars.

Since 1999 Audi has dominated endurance racing, won Le Mans eleven times, and amassed a truly extraordinary number of wins with their sleek and silver diesel-powered machines. And it was the same story at Sebring, for many years past one of their sweetest stomping grounds. This year they brought a new car, the 2013 R18 e-tron Quattro hybrid, and the 2012 version.

A thrilling battle for pole run under blue skies and Florida sunshine saw Marcel Fässler snatch top spot by 0.009 from Allan McNish. The Audis nearly three seconds ahead of the ‘petrol cars’. This was a new qualifying record and the tenth pole for Audi at Sebring. Surely only a fluke could get in the way of an eleventh victory at what the marketeers have dubbed the ‘Home of Quattro’.

These days, of course, 12 hours is a sprint, and a good shakedown for Le Mans in June. The Sebring raceway is tough on cars, tough on drivers, the bumpy old airfield track a far cry from the billiard table surfaces in Europe. If it’s going to break, it will break at Sebring. So the race is a tense affair.

sports cars  2013 12 Hours of Sebring report

Ben Tréluyer led away in the 2012 R18 Audi, chased by Tom Kristensen in the new 2013 machine while Nick Heidfeld in the Rebellion Racing Lola-Toyota led the rest, already falling back into a different race. Tom Kimber-Smith led the P2 class in his Zytek-Nissan and Oliver Gavin headed the GT class in his Chevrolet Corvette.

In truth the result was never in doubt, assuming reliability, and the excitement would come from the battle for victory between the two R18s. In the early laps Fässler and McNish gave the huge crowd some thrills as they fought for the lead, ducking and darting around among the slower P2 and GT cars. At times it was too close for the comfort of Messrs Wolfgang Ullrich of Audi Sport and Ralf Jüttner of Joest Racing on the pit wall. Behind them the competition for third step of the podium was fierce and feisty, Lola vs HPD vs Zytek.

Just after half-distance a chink in the Audi armour, a loose undertray and puffs of diesel smoke on the leading R18 of Tréluyer/Fässler/Jarvis causing a few furrowed brows. Otherwise the team was on plan with McNish/Kristensen/di Grassi just nine seconds behind the sister car and two laps ahead of the field, with the Graf/Luhr/Dumas HPD best of the petrols. Meanwhile Marino Franchitti/Briscoe/Tucker led the P2 class and in the GTs a great battle between Viper and Corvette kept the Stars and Stripes flying but it was Brit Richard Westbrook, with Oliver Gavin and Tommy Milner, who led the class.

The Florida sun set on the 61st Sebring 12 Hours, sinking below the orange groves, with less than three hours racing to go. So, out of the tricky Sunset Bend and into the dark they went. And, when the flag fell, it was the ‘old’ 2012 R18 of Tréluyer/Fässler and Oliver Jarvis on his Sebring debut which took an emotional victory, by less than eight seconds after 12 hours, from the new 2013 car of Kristensen/McNish/di Grassi despite the ‘Dane in the Dark’ putting in a sensational final stint. Third overall behind the Audis was the Jani/Heidfeld/Prost Rebellion Racing Lola.

sports cars  2013 12 Hours of Sebring report

The P2 class went to the HPD of Franchitti/Briscoe/Tucker while the PC honours went to the Oreca of Ostella/Chang/Guasch. A terrific GT race was won by Gavin/Milner/Westbrook in their Chevrolet Corvette while the GTC class (all Porsche 997s) went to Bleekemolen/MacNeill/von Moltke.

All in all a great Sebring 12 Hours and one we will remember as a typically polished, stylish and efficient farewell from the Audi Sport team. The fans will miss them next year. But the word on the street is that Vorsprung durch Technik will be back in Florida before too long.

Source: Motor Sport Mag

Clima Cool, Never Stop

Distinguished by its bold color combinations these new shoes are the ultimate in urban running. The adidas Climacool collection fits perfectly into a world that never stops moving.

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Autosport: The Art of the Start

I am now also contributing regularly to AUTOSPORT. Every GP I will post a Tech Blog on AUTOSPORT-PLUS, which is a subscription page (or pay per view).
In this weeks AUTOSPORT Magazine I have a double page spread on the Technology around the F1 cars’ Transmission and how its involved in the start process. You can buy a print issue of AUTOSPORT in the UK, or you can again get a digital copy by subscribing or pay per view at the DIGITAL AUTOSPORT Website

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