Oliver Gavin is one of 13 international co-drivers never to have raced in a V8 Supercars or on the Gold Coast street circuit prior to this weekend’s Armor All Gold Coast 600.
A veteran of the factory Corvette Racing American Le Mans Series program, Gavin will drive alongside Greg Murphy in the Pepsi Max Crew Commodore.
Speedcafe.com’s Stefan Bartholomaeus spoke to the 39-year-old after today’s pre-event test at Queensland Raceway.
SPEEDCAFE: Oliver, Kelly Racing has gone for three GT drivers this year (with Richard Westbrook joining Todd Kelly and Jorg Bergmeister joining Rick Kelly), so they clearly think your type of racing is a good fit with our series. How did you find the transition to the V8 Supercar?
OLIVER GAVIN: The first thing is that driving with Greg is fantastic, he’s been a real help today, talking me through the bits and pieces to do with the style of driving required in these cars.
I think that genuinely all three of us have come in and not really been too sure of how the cars were going to be, but I think certainly as the day’s gone on, Richard and Jorg and I have all come to the conclusion that the cars require a very unique style – it’s unlike anything we’ve experienced before.
So we’ve had to change our mindset between our regular cars and these. I think there is a certain amount of things that carry over, in terms of being used to having a roof over our heads, doing driver changes and so on, but the actual driving of the car is pretty unusual.
The tyre is really pretty unique and depends so much on how you treat it and how you work it. The big thing we’ve learnt today is that if you don’t have decent tyres you’re going to be at the back. We’ve had tyres to use that are no less than 140kms old. When you’re in that sort of a position you can’t expect to be anywhere near the top of the time sheets. We’re not surprised to be right at the bottom.
SPEEDCAFE: And not only are the tyres old, but they’re not even the same compound you’ll be racing on…
GAVIN: Exactly. So today has just been about me learning what to expect from the car, particularly when the tyres start to get old. It’s about being disciplined in the car, and learning that some things that I can do in a Corvette just cannot be done in this car.
But you know, in all forms of motorsport you’ve got to have some discipline with what you’re doing with the car, how you’re placing it, turning it, working the brakes and the throttle… how your inputs affect the car on the track. This is very, very sensitive, probably the most sensitive car I’ve ever driven for this style of thing.
SPEEDCAFE: How prepared were you coming into today. Did your team send data to look over and so on?
GAVIN: Yes, they sent me some data, as well as some video to watch. I used Darren Turner’s simulator, we used the data from the team in that system to drive the car around here (Queensland Raceway) and around the Gold Coast. So coming here today I wasn’t surprised by the direction of the turns, but I was surprised by the bumps. When you start to see wheels in the air… you know something’s not right!
SPEEDCAFE: Certainly the next challenge is applying what you learn here to the street circuit.
GAVIN: It’ll be interesting – a whole different ball game again. Changing from the hard to the soft tyre will change things quite a bit as well, but I’m looking forward to it. I really like street circuits, in the ALMS I’ve been one of the most successful drivers on street circuits. So I seem to go quite well on them, but again it’s going to take quite a lot of time with Greg to learn what bits of the circuit I can use and what bits I can’t, how to drive the car off the corner and all the rest of it. So it’s going to be interesting to see how we go.
See below for Speedcafe.com’s Armor All Gold Coast 600 Race Guide