Interview with Oliver Gavin - 2016 IMSA GTLM champion

Oliver Gavin enjoyed a very successful 2016 season in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship with Corvette Racing.

The British sportscar ace clinched the drivers' title in the ultra competitive GT Le Mans (GTLM) class along with team-mate Tommy Milner. The two drivers also managed to win the two stellar events of the series, the Rolex 24 at Daytona and the 12 Hours of Sebring at the wheel of the #4 Corvette C7.R.

We recently interviewed Oliver Gavin about his 2016 season with the factory Chevrolet squad in the IMSA series, Le Mans 24 Hours and more.

How emotional was it to win the GTLM title at Petit Le Mans?

It was very satisfying as well as emotional. There was also a certain sense of relief to get the car over the line and to get the championship wrapped up.

The previous two races for the No. 4 Corvette had been quite bruising and I think a pairing, crew and team with less experience than ours may have buckled under the pressure. We showed our resolve and delivered on everything that was asked of us.

You are sharing the #4 Corvette C7.R with Tommy Milner, how is the work split between the two of you during race weekends?

A lot depends on who is qualifying/starting the race. Whoever is qualifying/starting will do the majority of the work that weekend in practice/qualifying. Tommy and I are fortunate in that we like very similar cars.

So if it works for one of us it’s likely it’ll be good for the other. It makes the job of our engineer (Chuck Houghton) a little easier, even though he wouldn’t say that ;-)

There are no team orders at Corvette Racing, tell us more about the rivalry with the #3 of Magnussen and Garcia.

Well I think everyone could see how close it is between the two cars by the finish at Daytona. Each weekend our teammates are pushing us as hard as possible.

It’s a good rivalry with data being shared across the two cars and drivers comparing notes on setup changes and track conditions. We all get on well.

How competitive is the GTLM field in IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship?

Each year we say that the competition gets more and more intense in our class, that has definitely gone up a notch with Ford coming in. The level of drivers is world class and we are racing in one of the most challenging championships in the world.

There are four classes but the performance level in those classes can vary widely with different tyres, car configurations, driver experience levels, unforgiving race tracks, to just name a few reasons. Never a dull moment, you have to be on your toes every lap.

Corvette Racing faced a frustrating 24 Hours of Le Mans this year, how penalizing was the BoP at La Sarthe?

Le Mans 2016 was tough. We had a certain expectation going into this year’s race and yes we were surprised how far off we were. That was frustrating and disappointing but we knuckled down and worked hard to make our cars better and faster. As soon as we left La Sarthe 2016, we started working on 2017 Le Mans 24hrs.

What is your favourite racing circuit?

Le Mans is right up there for the challenge of getting right lap after lap. The race is so unforgiving.
Many race tracks in the North America are still close to their original layouts and so rewarding and unforgiving at the same time.

The one that regularly gets my attention is Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, a massive thrill to drive around.

Photos: Chevrolet