For many years, Sebring International Raceway was Corvette Racing’s Bermuda Triangle, a place where strange things happened routinely.
And, after numerous victories at the classic circuit, Sebring was once again to be the team’s nemesis in the 58th running of the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring today. An improbable collision in the pit lane between the two Corvette C6.Rs saw Olly and his team mates, Oliver Beretta and Emmanuel Collard drop out of contention for a GT race victory and struggle through to a ninth place finish at the chequered flag.
“The race didn’t turn out anything like we wanted it to. It started off well with both Jan [Magnussen] and I competing well at the front of the pack, racing with the Risi Ferrari, the Porsches of Falken and Flying Lizard and the BMWs. That first stint for me was a huge amount of fun and it was really developing into a great race. It continued with Olivier in the car and then Manu and it was looking like it was going to be great, but then unfortunately there was this huge misunderstanding in the pit lane and the two cars collided.
“It was one of those perfect storms where you couldn’t have scripted it any worse. Both cars were damaged in the incident – ours quite badly – and that put us out of contention. The rest of the race was all about reeling the laps off to see if we could pick up any points but, as the class is so deep with talent (cars and drivers), there was no chance.
“At night it wasn’t so bad and the car felt quite good but it wasn’t 100% right. It was a frustrating way to start the season and hopes were so high and we thought we’d got ourselves really set up and we ended up getting in a bit of a mess.”
The misfortune continued in the eighth hour when Oliver was hit by an errant tire on the course. It was a glancing blow; a few microseconds later, it might have been much worse. As darkness settled on Sebring, Olly found that the headlights on his Corvette were not working. He returned to the pits, where the Corvette crew replaced the nose, headlight, and harness assembly.
“I don’t know which of the racing gods I’ve offended, but I’d certainly like to apologize,” he quipped. “It’s been an extraordinary day, the most eventful ever for this team. We had a car capable of challenging anyone, but somehow it all went wrong. So now it’s on to Long Beach.”
Courtesy ALMS ©RIF