Oliver Gavin and his teammates looked to be on the verge of a fairytale ending to the Rolex 24 at Daytona, only to be hampered in the dying hours by a gearbox problem.
Driving alongside Tommy Milner and Robin Liddell in the all-new #4 Corvette C7.R, the trio rallied together despite the late setback to finish a disappointing fifth in the GTLM category.
“Right at Turn 1 at the start there was a lot of jostling for position and I had to take evasive action to avoid some spinning cars,” said Gavin, starting from fourth in class. “I think we all did a good job to stay out of the wall and not hit one another and we knew that we’d be able to pick up any positions we lost. Fortunately a caution bunched us up together and I had a great race with Nick Tandy in the Porsche and Gimmi Bruni [in a Ferrari]. The story of the first stint was the traffic. It was pretty crazy and lots of unusual lines being driven; people going off and not thinking when they come back on to the track.”
After a short delay in the pits early in the race, some hard work, safe driving and some help from the wave by rule under caution – which allows cars to make up laps lost while under a full-course yellow – the Corvette drivers were back at the top of the GTLM field and sitting in the top ten overall.
However, with the race winding down, a transmission bearing failed with no prior warning, with Milner suddenly seeing a high oil temperature alarm, hearing a lot of noises and finding himself with a box-full of neutrals. The issue forced the team in to the pits and saw their hard work just go out the window.
“Where we’d got to before that was down to a lot of hard work and we were all set up for a great grandstand finish,” concluded Gavin. “It would have been a three-way battle with Porsche and BMW and we’d have been all going for it on the last lap. We had the car to fight for the win this weekend and we were really up for the battle. If they had beaten us it would have been because they’d done the better job fair and square, and vice versa. I think that’s what really got to me today; we fought hard for it but unfortunately it wasn’t to be.”