Oliver Gavin readily admitted “I don’t think I’ve ever been in a race quite like that” after completing Sunday’s twice-delayed 6 Hours of Shanghai.
After two stoppages for heavy rain in the race’s first half, Gavin and Tommy Milner drove Corvette’s wild-card C7.R to a 10th-place finish in GTE Pro, only to find themselves elevated to eighth after penalties to the No.81 BMW Team MTEK and No.67 Chip Ganassi Team UK Ford. Given that neither driver had driven the track prior to this week, the team was happy to bring the No. 64 Redline/Mobil 1 Corvette home in one piece.
“This has probably been one of the most challenging races I’ve done in my career with the changing conditions, the safety car periods and red flags,” said Milner, who started the race, although a full-course yellow and subsequent stoppage meant the field didn’t see the first green flag until 75 minutes in.
“The trouble is when we went out on hot tires, the visibility wasn’t good so the tires cooled off when we were behind the safety car. It was a frustrating situation for all of us – the series, the fans and the competitors. We come to every track to win races but it wasn’t in the cards today. It was a difficult race in many aspects.
“But it ultimately was a lot of fun to come here to China for the first time and race. This was a big challenge for all of us. We did a pretty good job all things considered. We can now look forward to going home and getting ready for Daytona.”
Milner was one of the first GTE Pro drivers to stop for fuel just shy of the two-and-a-half hour mark. As conditions improved he found himself inside the top five. Gavin took over with about two hours and 40 minutes to go, and when conditions continued to improve, the experience of the five full-factory two-car Pro teams showed.
“I’ve done a lot of races in the rain and a lot of races in the dark, but I’ve done it at a track like this without external lights,” Gavin said.
“It was a bit of a lottery. We worked hard throughout the race to find as strong a setup as possible and took quite a big swing there for the end. Fundamentally we were lacking the pace we needed in the rain, kind of like how we did in the dry. We need to understand why that was with this tire and package so we can come back stronger if we have another shot at this event.”
Corvette was, in essence, getting its feet wet in the World Endurance Championship. The team is understood to be close to confirming a single-car entry to the WEC’s 1,000-mile race at Sebring on the weekend of IMSA’s 12-hour event. For that effort, the team would need a third C7.R to run alongside its pair of full-season IMSA chassis.