Tommy Milner, Right on Schedule
Tommy Milner, Right on Schedule
Yes, Virginia, there is a prospective 2012 American Le Mans Series champion in your ranks.
Leesburg’s Tommy Milner and Corvette Racing co-driver Oliver Gavin roll into the paddock for the inaugural American Le Mans Series event at Virginia International Raceway, driving ever closer to the 2012 ALMS GT class drivers’ championship, a title that would put Milner on the way to star status.
With three wins and seven podiums in eight ALMS starts, Milner and Gavin hold a 28-point lead in the championship with just two races remaining. They also have two of a racer’s best friends – momentum and confidence – going for them.
For England’s Gavin, age 39, ALMS Championship runs are old hat; he has three already in a distinguished ALMS career that now includes 37 ALMS race wins. Gavin will make his 100th career ALMS start here at VIR.
Things are a bit different for the 25-year-old Milner. Milner joined Corvette Racing from archrival BMW for the start of the 2011 season. His first big win for Corvette came under heavy pressure that June at the fabled 24 Hours of Le Mans.
That win, and a fresh pairing with Gavin for 2012, have further bolstered Milner’s confidence and performance. The two have broken out of the incredibly tight GT pack to become the drivers to beat in 2012 GT competition.
Milner and Gavin combined for an impressive win at Long Beach, Milner’s first in ALMS competition, then immediately backed it up with another win at Monterey. A third win came at Mid-Ohio.
The Corvette Racing team, engineers, program manager Doug Fehan, and the classy, quick, and experienced Gavin have all played important roles in Milner’s growth.
Now, as the only driver to have raced with both the current BMW and Corvette factory teams, Milner has a good perspective on the relative strengths of each car and team. Changing manufacturers and teams also meant a switch to MICHELIN® tires, a change that suits Milner’s style.
In his second season with Corvette, Milner is doing what Corvette Racing factory drivers are signed to do – win Le Mans, win races, and perhaps very soon, win championships.
Ironically, some of the strongest competition comes from within the Corvette Racing camp, where teammates, Jan Magnussen and Antonio Garcia in the #3 Corvette are currently second in the drivers’ championship, while the battle with BMW remains tight for manufacturer and team honors.
Together with Gavin and Milner, these four drivers are focused on securing Corvette Racing its latest team and manufacturer championships and first since moving to the rugged GT class.
“Winning the manufacturer championship for Chevrolet is the first priority,” said Milner. “Winning the team championship for Corvette Racing comes next.”
The road to the 2012 championship has but two stops remaining, this week’s four-hour race at VIR and the season-ending 10 Hours/1000 Miles of Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta.
For Tommy Milner, a Virginia boy, who formerly drove for the Panoz team; the road is through familiar territory. And lots of fans and friends will be watching to see if he can bring that first ALMS championship home.