- September 29, 1972
- United Kingdom
- Imsa Sportscar Championship
- Corvette Racing
If anyone knows how to drive a Chevrolet Corvette, it's definitely a British racing driver Oliver Gavin. Since 2002, when he joined Corvette Racing team, Gavin collected four American Le Mans Series titles, the 2016 IMSA SportsCar Championship title and scored five class victories at 24 hours of Le Mans, and he achieved it all with different Chevrolet Corvette cars. That's not all because he also scored many victories in some other famous endurance races, such are Sebring 12 Hours or Petit Le Mans.
Before he became one of the world's most successful sports car drivers, Gavin was successful in his homeland, winning the 1991 British Formula First title and winning the 1995 British Formula 3 Championship. He was close to Formula One, as a test driver in few teams, but never competed in the premier open-wheel racing series. However, he was leading many laps in Formula One, because he worked as a driver of the F1 Safety Car between 1997 and 1999.
First championship title in the Formula First
Oliver Gavin was born on September 29, 1972, in Huntingdon, England. As a kid, he competed in the karting races and then he switched to bigger cars in 1990. His first competition was the Formula First GB, in which he took the 1991 championship title, winning eleven out of twelve races. At the end of the year, he was awarded as the McLaren Autosport Young Driver of the Year.
Oliver's next competition was the Formula Vauxhall Lotus in 1992. He finished as the runner-up and then moved to the British Formula 3 Championship in 1993. In his debut F3 season, driving for Edenbridge Racing, Gavin won five races and finished second in the points.
In 1994, Gavin graduated to Formula 3000 International, driving for Omegaland. The season was bad and he decided to return to Formula 3 in 1995. During 1994, he tested the Formula 1 car for the Pacific Grand Prix.
Gavin was the 1995 British Formula 3 champion
In 1995 Formula 3 season, driving the Vauxhall-powered Dallara F395 for Edenbridge Racing, Gavin has won six out of 18 races and took the title. Gavin reached the title in the very last race of the season, beating Ralph Firman by eight points. At the end of the season, in November, Gavin was invited to drive for the Pacific F1 team at the Australian Grand Prix, but he was not granted the required FIA Super License and he never started in a Formula 1 race.
In 1996, Gavin changed the racing discipline and joined Opel Team Joest in the FIA International Touring Car Championship. He was driving the #8 Opel Calibra V6 in 24 races, finishing best at Estoril, where he was sixth in both races.
Oliver worked as F1 Safety Car driver
In 1997, Gavin tried to return to Formula 3000 International but he failed to qualify in three attempts with Salisbury Engineering's car. Besides racing, he got a job as a driver of Formula One Safety Car. It was the Mercedes-Benz CLK 55 AMG. He was doing that job until 1999. That year, Gavin again tried to race in Formula 3000, he participated in five races and he failed to qualify five times.
After these bad results, Gavin left open-wheel racing and switched to sports car racing in 2000, competing in the United States. His first team was Intersport Racing, that runs the Lola prototypes. Gavin participated in six races of the Grand American Rolex Series and one race of the American Le Mans Series. His best result was second place at Watkins Glen, alongside Jon Field.
Competing with four different cars in 2001
In 2001, Gavin expanded his racing activities and competed with four different cars during the season. He continued to drive Intersport Racing's Lola-Judd in the Rolex Series, winning two out of seven races and finishing 12th in the points. He had a one-off appearance at the FIA GT Championship, sharing the Lamborghini Murcielago with Peter Kox at Estoril.
Maiden Le Mans podium with Saleen
In the American Le Mans Series, he was driving Saleen S7-R in three races for three different teams. He scored his first class win at Sebring 12h, driving for Konrad Team with Franz Konrad and Terry Borcheller. Saleen S7-R was also Gavin's car in his Le Mans debut in June 2001. His co-drivers in the #60 Allen Speedlab's Saleen were again Franz Konrad and Terry Borcheller. They finished 18th overall and 3rd in GTS class.
Oliver Gavin joined Corvette Racing in 2002
From 2001 to 2016, Gavin raced 16 times at Circuit de la Sarthe, scored five class wins and three more podiums. The milestone year was 2002 when Oliver Gavin joined Corvette Racing. In his first year with that team, Gavin participated in three ALMS races and won two times, at Sebring 12h and Petit Le Mans.
Maiden Le Mans victory for Gavin in 2002
The highlight of the season was Gavin's first victory at Le Mans, in the #63 Chevrolet Corvette C5-R, which he was sharing with Ron Fellows and Johnny O'Connell. They finished 11th overall and first in GTS class, ahead of Corvette Racing's sister car #64.
During 2002, Gavin also had one-off appearances in the Grand American Rolex Series and FIA GT Championship, competing at Daytona 24h with Dyson Racing Team prototype and with Reiter's Lamborghini Diablo at Pergusa.
In 2003, he had a first full season in the American Le Mans Series, winning two out of eight races and finishing 4th in the points. At 2003 Le Mans race, Gavin's partners in the #50 Corvette C5-R were Andy Pilgrim and Kelly Collins. They were second in GTS class, behind Prodrive's Ferrari 550 Maranello.
Three consecutive Le Mans wins from 2004 to 2006
The most successful period, with three consecutive victories at Le Mans, started in 2004. In all three races, the members of the winning Corvette Racing crew were Oliver Gavin, Olivier Beretta and Jan Magnussen. In 2004, they won ahead of Corvette C5-R and Prodrive's Ferrari.
In 2005, the Corvette Racing switched to new GT1-spec C6.R model and the trio repeated the victory, again ahead of team's second car. In 2006, Corvette Racing almost reached the overall podium, finishing fourth and taking a third consecutive win in GT class.
Three American Le Mans Series titles in a row
Besides winning Le Mans between 2004 and 2006, Gavin won two ALMS GT1 titles in that period. He finished second in the points in 2004 and then took two consecutive titles in 2005 and 2006. Both times, he triumphed together with Olivier Beretta.
While driving for Corvette Racing, Gavin had occasional appearances with other teams in other series, for instance, 2005 Daytona 24h with Krohn Racing (16th place), 2006 Daytona 24h with Howard-Boss Motorsports (14th place) or 2007 Daytona 24h with Howard Motorsports (DNF).
In 2007, Gavin took his third consecutive American Le Mans Series title, winning nine out of twelve races with #4 Corvette C6.R, again with Olivier Beretta as a regular co-driver. At 2007 Le Mans, Gavin and Beretta were joined by Max Papis. They retired early, in the second hour of the race, after 22 laps. Gavin was driving the C6.R for Luc Alphand Aventures several times, scoring the 6th place at 24h Spa and 2nd place at Interlagos.
2008 - second in ALMS, third at Le Mans
In 2008, Gavin finished the year as the ALMS runner-up and with a bronze medal from 24h Le Mans. In 2008 ALMS season, Gavin and Beretta won three races and finished behind teammates Jan Magnussen and Johnny O'Connell. At 2008 Le Mans, Aston Martin Racing took its second consecutive GT1 win, ahead of two Corvettes.
Three seasons without trophies followed between 2009 and 2011. In 2009, Gavin was 11th in the ALMS GT1 classification. In 2010, he won one race and finished fifth in the points. In 2011, he again won one race and finished second in the points of GT class, together with Jan Magnussen. The results at Le Mans were even more disappointing in that period, as Gavin recorded three consecutive DNFs from 2009 to 2011.
In 2011, Gavin also competed in the Grand American Rolex Series, driving the Chevrolet Camaro GT.R for Banner Racing. In seven races, he scored two podiums and finished 18th in the points.
Partnering Greg Murphy at 2011 Gold Coast 600
In October 2011, Gavin traveled to Australia to compete in two races of the Gold Coast 600 event of the V8 Supercars Championship. He partnered Greg Murphy in the #11 Kelly Racing's Holden. They were 6th in the first race and 4th in the second race.
In January 2012, Gavin participated for the first time at Daytona 24h with Chevrolet Corvette DP prototype, sharing the #90 car with Corvette Racing's teammates Jan Magnussen, Antonio Garcia and Richard Westbrook. They finished 8th.
2012 - Fourth ALMS title with Corvette
Later in the American Le Mans Series season, Gavin scored four wins in ten races with #74 Corvette C6.R ZR1, winning his fourth ALMS title in GT class. His championship-winning partner was Tommy Milner. At 2012 Le Mans, the trio Gavin/Milner/Westbrook had a problematic race and after 215 laps they didn't enter the final classification.
In January 2013, Gavin returned to Daytona with Chevrolet Corvette DP, alongside Antonio Garcia, Richard Westbrook and Ricky Taylor, but they didn't finish the race. For 2013 season, American Le Mans Series remained Gavin's main competition. He started the year with Sebring 12h victory and added one more win (Mosport) and finished third in the points.
Two wins in the ADAC GT Masters
At 2013 Le Mans, the crew Gavin/Milner/Westbrook finished 22nd overall and 7th in GTE Pro class. Gavin competed in one more race of the FIA World Endurance Championship, joining Darren Turner and Stefan Mucke in the cockpit of the #97 Aston Martin Vantage at Circuit of the Americas. He also had a one-off appearance in the ADAC GT Masters, sharing the SaReNi United's Chevrolet Camaro GT with Albert von Thurn und Taxis at Hockenheim.
In 2014, the IMSA United Sports Car Championship was formed and Corvette Racing competed in GTLM class with Corvette C7.R. Gavin scored only one podium in eleven races and finished 10th in the points. He was much more successful in the ADAC GT Masters, where he joined Daniel Keilwitz in the Callaway Competition's Corvette. They scored two wins in six races. At 2014 Le Mans, Gavin was again partnering Tommy Milner and Richard Westbrook. They finished 4th in GTE Pro class.
Third place in debut at Bathurst 1000
Gavin also participated in complete Pirtek Enduro Cup of the 2014 V8 Supercars Championship, driving the #222 Holden for James Rosenberg Racing, alongside Nick Percat. Gavin raced at Sandown Raceway, Mount Panorama and Surfers Paradise. In his debut at Bathurst 1000, Gavin took a sensational third place.
The season 2015 started with the podium finish at Daytona 24-hour race and Gavin finished third in GTLM class. His co-drivers in the #4 Corvette C7.R were Simon Pagenaud and Tommy Milner. Later in the season, Gavin scored one more podium and finished 8th in the points.
2015 - fifth class victory at 24 hours of Le Mans
The highlight of the season was Gavin's 15th participation at Le Mans and his fifth class victory. His partners on the #64 Corvette C7.R were Tommy Milner and Jordan Taylor. They took the comfortable win with a five-lap advantage over AF Corse's Ferrari.
In autumn 2015, Gavin again traveled to Australia and partnered Nick Percat in the #222 Holden for endurance races of V8 Supercars Championship. Their best result was sixth place in the first race at Surfers Paradise.
Gavin won both Daytona and Sebring in 2016
In 2016, Gavin's race at Le Mans ended with a huge disappointment, because the #64 crew retired after 219 laps because they had an accident. Gavin's co-drivers were Tommy Milner and Jordan Taylor. Gavin also participated in 24 hours of Spa, driving the Barwell Motorsport's Lamborghini Huracan GT3 to 17th place finish. His co-drivers were Phil Keen, Jon Minshaw and Joe Osborne.
On the other side of the Atlantic, Gavin has a successful season with two wins at greatest American endurance races - 24 hours of Daytona and 12 hours of Sebring, together with Tommy Milner and Marcel Fassler in the #4 Corvette C7.R. Gavin and Milner added two more wins at Lime Rock and Road America and entered the season's finale as the championship leaders. After taking third place at Petit Le Mans, Gavin and Milner became 2016 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Champions in GTLM class.
Two consecutive triumphs at Long Beach
In 2017, he and Milner stayed together in the #4 Corvette but they were far from the fight for the championship title. They won only a race at Long Beach, missing wins or podiums in other races and finishing eighth in the points of GTLM class.
In the 2018 IMSA SportsCar Championship, Gavin and Milner repeated a triump at Long Beach. It remained their only win in 2018 and they finished third in the championship. In 2019, Gavin and Milner scored no wins in the IMSA Championship.
Photos: olivergavin.com, Jakob Ebrey, motorsport.com, Getty Images,