Gavin, Milner revel in 100th Corvette win as quest for 200 begins today

Photo courtesy of IMSA

ELKHART LAKE, Wis. – It’s perhaps fitting in a way that Corvette Racing’s longest serving active driver, Oliver Gavin, and its lone American full-timer in Tommy Milner, were the pair that delivered the standard setter for GT racing in North America its 100th win as a team last time out at Lime Rock Park. And there’s a commemorative decal on the cars this weekend to celebrate the occasion.

And so today, the quest to capture the next 100 wins begins here at Road America – which surprising as it seems, is a track Corvette Racing has not won at since 2008 with a GT1-spec Corvette C6.R, and Jan Magnussen and Johnny O’Connell driving.

Gavin and Milner lead the GT Le Mans class points heading into today’s Continental Tire Road Race Showcase, and the drivers of the No. 4 Corvette C7.R were able to reflect a bit on what that win at Lime Rock meant for both them and the team.

“It just all fell into place really,” Gavin told NBC Sports. “We’d been waiting for a race like that Sebring. We were close in Long Beach but that one got taken away from us. Then we got into the midseason, and the performance of some other cars was pretty hard to beat. Everything has been relatively equal at Lime Rock.

“As we have done to deliver and perform, we perform throughout every level of the team at a very high consistent level. Whether that’s with the strategy we employ, the pit stops, the Michelin tires that we are on, the partners we’re working with, it’s why we’re in the lead of championship.

“This championship will come down who can perform the longest, strongest and be more consistent. At moment it’s between us, and the 67 (Ford GT) car. We’ll see how things evolve.”

Milner added, “No question it’s special. When I joined this team in 2011, I joined this team knowing I was joining at a team with a lot of success and experience, and always are in the hunt to win. That’s certainly has been my experience here. We have cars that can win races. This team is built to win races.”

Asking Gavin to pick which of his 47 wins with Corvette Racing stand out present some obvious candidates – notably the Corvette 1-2 photo finish at this year’s Rolex 24 at Daytona – but also mentioned 2012 a lot, when he and Milner won the class championship.

“Daytona this year was pretty spectacular. To come away with the win there was immense,” he said. “Then I think about my first win with Corvette in Le Mans in 2002. Johnny and I drove most of night; Ron (Fellows) was unwell. That was satisfying; then there was 2006 at Le Mans, following a very hard fight with the Astons. And then you sort of think about some of the Sebring results. Those are special.

“Mid-Ohio in 2012 starting a ways back and passing a number of cars in class, was satisfying to win there. The championship win at VIR in 2012 was quite nice. That year produced a lot of fond memories and I’m hoping this year provides some parallels.”

For Milner, he needed the confidence to know he could win when he got to Corvette from BMW, because he hadn’t won an ALMS race prior to arriving. In fact, his first win with Corvette was at the 2011 24 Hours of Le Mans.

“Getting over that hump was huge for believing in yourself,” Milner admitted. “If you’re not winning, you definitely question if you can do it. So getting the win at Le Mans was a nice sort of kick in the ass.

“It’s funny how for most of my career, I’d never won an American Le Mans Series race, until 2012. Then we not only won races, but also won the title!

“Now, I don’t remember that feeling of dying… with that desire to get a win. It’s just different now. Getting one win, you want to get another one. There’s years where you get down and you figure out how to overcome those challenges. It’s the age old saying of what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. It’s made me a better driver.”

Heading into today’s race, the No. 3 Corvette of Magnussen and Antonio Garcia starts sixth while the No. 4 car rolls off seventh. The Fords, meanwhile will start first (No. 66) and third (No. 67).

While Gavin isn’t bullish on Corvette’s chances today, at a track where there’s been four different manufacturers (Porsche 2015, Ferrari 2014, Viper 2013, BMW 2012) not named Corvette that have won the last four years, the goal is simple: bank as many points as possible to consolidate the 10-point gap (228-218) over Richard Westbrook and Ryan Briscoe.

“We’ve had some success here in the past but it hasn’t been our strongest circuit,” Gavin said. “The turbo cars should be exceptionally strong. Ferrari has a bit more boost and speed, got a bit of weight. If I had to put my money on it, a turbo car should win here Sunday.

“Our main focus for us is to finish ahead of the 67 and then one of the other Fords if possible. This is gonna be back and forth for the rest of the year now. Pressure won’t let up whatsoever. It’s been fun, Mosport, Lime Rock, the same cars, just in a slightly different order. If we can have another result like that, it’d be good.”

X44 Racing win 2022 Extreme E championship as Abt Cupra score first race victory

2022 Extreme E Uruguay
Extreme E

Abt Cupra Racing’s Nasser Al-Attiyah and Klara Andersson scored their first win in the Extreme E Energy X Prix in the 2022 finale in Uruguay as Lewis Hamilton’s X44 Vida Carbon Racing drivers Sebastien Loeb and Cristina Gutierrez survived a chaotic finale to edge the 2021 champion Rosberg X Prix team of Johan Kristoffersson and Mikhaela Ahlin-Kottulinsky, by two points.

“There are so many emotions,” Andersson said in Extreme E’s coverage. “I’ve been waiting for this for so long. In my second race, first full weekend to be at the top of the podium: it’s big.”

Andersson was behind the wheel at the finish.

Rosberg Racing entered the event with a 17-point advantage over X44, but the standings were close enough that four teams remained in contention in Round 5.

“It’s a crucial weekend for us,” Loeb said in Extreme E’s coverage prior to the race. “We are not in the best position to win the championship, but the only thing we can do is try to win the race and score as many points as possible.”

The top two title contenders each crashed in qualification and were relegated to the Crazy Race, Extreme E’s version of the Last Chance Qualifier (LCQ). For the moment, they had the steepest hill to climb, but then the other two championship contending teams, Chip Ganassi Racing and Acciona Sainz Racing failed to advance from their heats.

Only one team advances from the Crazy Race, so the X44 drivers were in a must-win situation to simply keep hope alive.

More: Extreme E 2023 schedule

Ahlin-Kottulinsky and Gutierrez ran wheel to wheel into the first turn at the start of the LCQ.

The Rosberg racer experienced crash damage in that turn that damaged her front steering, but managed to limp back to the pits at the end of her two-lap stint. The team attempted to fix the steering, but incurred a penalty for having too many mechanics in the pit area.

Meanwhile, Gutierrez took the early lead, but knew she would need to sit through a five-second penalty for an incident earlier in the weekend. The female half of the gender equal pair erased the penalty by entering the Switch Zone with a five-second lead before turning the car over to Loeb.

That was all the nine-time World Rally Championship titlist needed to give him the advantage needed to win the Crazy Race.

But the championship was not over yet. X44 Racing needed to finish third or better in the five-car finale to earn enough points for the title and after advancing from the LCQ, they were forced to take the worst grid position.

A chaotic start to the Finale saw Loeb run as high the lead and low as fourth after getting pushed off course during his first lap. And that is how he entered to Switch Zone.

On her first lap, Gutierrez slammed into Molly Taylor. With one lap remaining, X44 and Gutierrez were still in fourth and the title hope was quickly evaporating, but it was announced halfway through the lap that the third-running Andretti United team would suffer a penalty for a Switch Zone infraction. The seven-second deduction for Timmy Hansen braking too late in the zone made the difference in the title.

Coming off a disappointing Copper X Prix when Tanner Foust and Emma Gilmour crossed under the checkers first, but were relegated to fifth by penalty, the McLaren pair scored their first podium of the season in second.