Oliver Gavin and Tommy Milner secured the GT Driver’s Championship win in The American Le Mans Series on Saturday at VIR 240 at the Virginia International Raceway. The conquest celebrates the duo’s fourth victory in nine races while winning the GT Manufacturer Championship for Chevrolet along with the GT Team Championship for Corvette Racing.
The No. 4 Compuware C6.R Piloted By Gavin/Milner
As is characteristic of several events this season, trouble awaited the race’s participants in a corner. This time, it was the first corner of the race — when the No. 20 LMP1 spun and blocked the track, resulting in a chain-reaction pileup. Oliver Gavin managed to stay out of harm’s way and made it through in the No. 4 C6.R, coming out second behind van Overbeek’s race-leading No. 01 Ferrari. Gavin then made his move for first at the 42-minute mark into the four-hour race.
“I was on the inside, and fortunately all of the craziness was happening to the left of me,” Gavin said. “I followed the No. 01 Ferrari into Turn 1, then there was a wall of smoke and I could see Johannes was really cutting to the inside. I had to go even farther to the inside, and then an LMPC car spun right in front of me. I thought I was going to nail it, but it just seemed to evaporate. I got through on the grass, and was nearly T-boned by Bergmeister as he was trying to avoid the wrecks. It was like the seas parted and I went through.”
“I passed him in Turn 1 and made it stick in Turn 2,” Gavin recalled. “He got a bad run off Turn 11 and then a GTC car slowed him in 14 and 15. The GTC driver didn’t see him and pushed Johannes wide so I got a run on him. My car was better under braking, and I thought I could make it through if he didn’t put me in the grass.”
As the race went on, Gavin’s tires became worn and he was passed by the No. 01 and No. 02 Ferraris. A pit stop at the one-hour mark proved ever-fortunate, as the No. 4 C6.R came third into the pits and — as Tommy Milner was getting into the car for the two middle hours of the race — came out first in the GT class due to the race’s second full-course caution.
Milner, who started professional sports car racing at VIR, had a reasonably ordinary two-hour run, preserving a firm lead over the No. 56 BMW. He pitted at 2:12 into the race for tires and fuel and then again with an hour to go, giving the reigns to the car again over to Gavin for the final stint. Coincidentally, the No. 56 BMW of Dirk Mueller, who was in the running for the championship, pitted with a broken toe link, falling from second to eight.
Gavin drove the last hour of the race and took the No. 4 Vette to victory with a 19.5-second lead over the second-place No. 45 Porsche.
The No. 3 Compuware C6.R Piloted By Magnussen/Garcia
Regrettably, the No. 3 Compuware C6.R of team mates Jan Magnussen and Antonio Garcia wasn’t as fortunate in the first turn chaos, as Magnussen ran the Vette into an LMPC car, thereby suffering damage to the hood and the left-front fender.
“There was a bit of stop-and-go and it was looking like it was going to be a messy start,” Magnussen said. “Then we got going and as we went into Turn 1, the inside lane stopped a bit and it was clear for me on the outside. I don’t know what happened up in front, but they started spinning and I had nowhere to go. I tried to stop, but hit an LMPC car and had a lot of damage to the nose. I couldn’t go to the inside because the other Corvette was there. I can’t believe it.”
Magnussen pitted the Vette and the crew taped the damaged panels, but a completely new nose assembly was required and installed on the next lap. He returned to the race with a four-lap deficit; even after running some of the fastest laps of the race, the initial loss was too great to overcome. The Dane ran to 2:19 before switching out with Spaniard Antonio Garcia, who drove to the checkered flag. Garcia gained spots thanks to quick laps and attrition among the rivals and finished eighth. The duo is second in the driver standings going into the final race of the season at Road Atlanta.
Today’s win marked Gavin’s 38th career ALMS victory coinciding with his landmark 100th start. The Gavin/Milner victory was the 85th win for Corvette Racing in 140 events. Notably, Chevrolet and Corvette Racing have won nine ALMS manufacturer and team championships since 2001, as the team moved to the production-based GT class in 2009 — scoring eight wins in the ruthless category.
“There is no better way to crown 60 years of Corvette production than by winning the ALMS GT Manufacturer Championship,” said Jim Campbell, Chevrolet U.S. Vice President for Performance Vehicles and Motorsports. “This achievement is the result of a tremendous effort by the entire Chevrolet team. Start with a high-performance platform from the Corvette production group, add power, durability and efficiency developed by GM Powertrain, perfect the package with the engineering expertise of Corvette Racing, put exceptional drivers behind the wheel, and then go head-to-head with world-class competition in the most intense road racing series on the planet. Corvette Racing’s championship season reflects Chevrolet’s commitment to winning on the race track and in the showroom.”
Corvette Racing returns on Saturday, October 20th for the 10-hour/1,000-mile Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta in Braselton, Georgia.
American Le Mans Series VIR 240 GT Results (Top 10)
- 4 Gavin/Milner, Corvette C6.R, 126
- 45 Bergmeister/Long, Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, 126
- 01 Sharp/van Overbeek, Ferrari 458 Italia, 126
- 55 J. Mueller/Auberlen, BMW E92 M3, 126
- 44 Neiman/Holzer, Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, 125
- 23 Sweedler/Bell, Lotus Evora, 124
- 17 Henzler/Sellers, Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, 123
- 3 Magnussen/Garcia, Corvette C6.R, 122
- 56 D. Mueller/Summerton, BMW E92 M3, 120
- 48 Miller/Maassen, Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, 98