Despite failing to earn a podium finish, Oliver Gavin called his farewell outing at Saturday’s FIA World Endurance Championship season opener at Spa “very special.”
“You can really feel the character and charisma of the track and the race,” the veteran Corvette Racing driver said of the Belgium track. “Those are the things I fell in love with when I went to Le Mans for the first time. I feel very, very fortunate.”
His teammate for his final race, Antonio Garcia, said he really wanted to send Gavin off on a winning note. “My main push the whole race was to be up there (on the podium) with him [Gavin], even if we knew getting on the top step was almost impossible. But being up there would have been super nice.”
Instead, the Gavin-Garcia team (together in a car for the first time despite their long Corvette careers) had to settle for fourth place, down a lap from the winning Porsche piloted by polesitter Kevin Estre and Neel Jani.
“I gave it all I had to do it,” Garcia said. “It wasn’t enough for sure, but it was good to share a Corvette with him for once. I would have liked to have to get a better result. But as a team, we can take the good things from this race and the information on the car ahead toward Le Mans.”
Garcia handled the first and last two-hour portions of the race, with Gavin taking on the middle portion of his final race.
“It’s been quite a day,” Gavin said. “I kind of went through all this when I was at Sebring in November for my final race in IMSA. It has brought a lot of those emotions back.”
During the last few laps, Gavin says he was thinking about the past 20 years that he has spent with the Corvette Racing team “and what we’ve been able to achieve… I’m so proud of what we’ve been able to do with four generations of Corvette and all the races we’ve won.”
Earlier, reflecting on his 30-year career as a driver, Gavin said his biggest achievements were the five class wins at Le Mans with the Pratt & Miller Corvette Racing team.
Gavin’s long career began in 1990 with a winter series campaign in the British Formula First category. The next year, he became the McLaren Autosport BRDC Young Driver winner after capturing the national championship in the starter formula. He also won the British Formula 3 Championship in 1995, then competed in Formula 3000 and the DTM before the Corvette Racing team lured him aboard after he took the GTS class title at the Sebring 12 Hours with the Konrad Saleen team in 2001. At first an endurance driver for Corvette Racing, he joined the full-time lineup in the American Le Mans Series in 2004, going on to claim the ALMS GT1 class title three consecutive years, from 2005-2007.
While Gavin will now be retiring to concentrate on opening his Oliver Gavin Driving Academy in Germany, the Corvette team, which ran in its first race outside of North America at Spa, will turn its attention to the Le Mans 24 Hours in August.
Corvette Racing at Spa: Fourth in European Debut for C8.R
Corvette Racing at Spa: C8.R Ready to Challenge FIA WEC’s Best
Oliver Gavin to Retire from Professional Racing After This Weekend’s Spa WEC Race in the C8.R