American Le Mans Series

Late Pass For Victory Caps Off Corvette Comeback At Sebring

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Tommy MIlner made sure he and Oliver Gavin began their title defence with a win (Photo Credit: Richard Prince/Corvette Racing Photo)

Tommy Milner’s late pass for the lead at Sebring International Raceway set up Corvette Racing’s first class victory at the 12 Hours of Sebring since they won the GT1 category in 2009.

“You can’t start a better way,” said driver Oliver Gavin. “We had a very good year last year in the championship. We didn’t have a great Sebring last year, but this win just puts us up there straightaway, leading the championship off the bat. Tommy and I just sort of picked up where we left off last year, which is exactly what we wanted to do. I’m proud of all the guys at Corvette Racing today. They nailed every single stop. It was spectacular to watch.”

Milner took over Gavin to drive the final two hours of the race, starting a minute in arrears to the class leading Ferrari. However, with good pace from the #4 car and sterling work in the pits Milner reeled in the leader before taking advantage of a mistake to take the lead.

“Those guys had an unreal pit stop at the end,” Milner said. “We were about a minute back and then 35 seconds at the next pit stop, and then we were 14 seconds back. And once I got to see him, I thought, ‘Here we go. I’ve got a chance here.’ Once I got close to him, he went wide in one and I knew he was pushing hard and he kept making mistakes, and that was it, that was the moment.”

The victory completed a wildly twisting and turning race for the #4 team of Gavin, Milner and Richard Westbrook.

Westbrook was leading the third hour hour of the race when a short-circuit in the dashboard brought smoke into the cockpit and Westbrook into the pits to start repairs that would ultimately drop the team down to ninth, off the lead lap. The team then fought back onto the lead lap, Westbrook taking the car back to the lead only to become one of many drivers penalised for on-track contact, prompting the squad to rally a second time to take the win to start the defense of the their drivers’ and teams’ class titles from 2012 in the best possible fashion.

The #3 Corvette of Antonio Garcia, Jan Magnussen and Jordan Taylor retired from the race with gearbox issues.

Garcia was another driver to receive a penalty, punished in the opening hour for contact with a slow PC car. The Spaniard then had to take the car to garage with gear selection problems that were only fixed once the gearbox, steering wheel and electronics had all be replaced. The team returned – though well out of contention – only to later return to the garage with an overheating gearbox that ended their race.

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James is our Diet-Coke fuelled writer and has been with TCF pretty much since day 1, he can be found frequenting twitter at @_JBroomhead
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