Optimum Motorsport move to third in the British GT Championship after a successful Silverstone 500 outing
Optimum Motorsport ended the Silverstone 500 with all cars in their class top ten to secure a large points haul supporting their title hopes. The result promotes GT3 drivers Ollie Wilkinson and Bradley Ellis to third place in the drivers championship, while Patrik Matthiesen and Mike Robinson secured their first GT4 Silver Cup podium in the #75.
A brake issue in qualifying limited Ollie and Brad to the back of the GT3s starting grid, but the two GT4s set two impressive - collective - laps to sneak inside the top ten in class for the first time this season.
Patrik and Jack Butel took the start of the race in the Aston Martin Vantage GT4s and in the first handful of laps, the duo had moved up to seventh and eighth overall. By lap 11, Patrik had moved up to fourth place, cementing the pace of the GT4 Vantage early-on.
Ollie meanwhile had a rapid start in the GT3 and had rocketed from 15th on the grid, to seventh place in just one lap. He temporarily dropped to eighth before regaining seventh by lap four having overtaken the #2 Aston Martin. As the pitstops begun to take swing, the Briton had soon found place inside the overall top four.
Brad took over the reins of the Aston Martin and emerged in seventh place before the #99 slid ahead. However, with an commendable effort having established some rhythm, he swiftly caught the tail of the #7 Bentley and crept through Club corner to take the GT3 Silver class lead.
For the GT4s, the race wasn’t straight forward. After the initial pit stops, both cars were scrapping in the middle of the pack for track and race position. With Mike in the #75 in seventh place and Connor O’Brien in eleventh, the race hit the midway point and the second dose of pitstops begun to unravel.
Ollie re-joined the race once again in seventh place, before overtaking Michael Igoe to move into sixth. Patrik and Jack remained inside the top seven after their second stints, before passing back the GT4s to their teammates for the final runs.
Unfortunately for the GT3, the #77 Mercedes ran into the back of Ollie at Farm corner, dropping the front runners to seventh from fifth and out of the Silver class lead. Late drama with the leading #47 tangling with a backmarker promoted Ollie back into fifth place, and with a late pitstop for the #7 Bentley, the #96 moved back into the Silver class lead at the chequered flag. The two GT4s finished the race inside the overall top eleven, as well as third and seventh in class.
*After the race conclusion, it was announced that the #31 JRM Bentley had received a penalty, promoting Brad and Ollie into fourth place and third in the overall championship
Optimum Motorsport Team Principal, Shaun Goff
"We’ve still got a bit of work to do, the pace is a lot better than it has been, we just need to get the last bit of detail out of the cars and unleash some lap times. It’s quite rewarding to be seeing all the smiles on the drivers’ faces and I’m really proud to have had three cars with no pit-stop penalties and no infringements, so I’m really proud of the team. Considering we’ve had a couple of tough races, but we were very consistent today and matched that with what we did in qualifying yesterday, so we’re very much looking to build on this for the next round at Donington."
Bradley Ellis, #96 GT3
"It was quite a frustrating race for us really. I was struggling a bit with traction, it was hard work to race people but from where we started the result was good. It’s a good bunch of points for the championship and the Silver cup, so its not that bad at all, but we were on track for something a bit better. Ollie drove an amazing first stint, it was a shame that he got hit in the second stint which cost us a lot of time and a couple of positions by the end, but all in all I think from where we started we can be happy with what we’ve come away with."
Ollie Wilkinson, #96 GT3
“To fight back from P15 to finish fifth at the flag, fourth post-race, is quite an achievement, it’s just a massive shame that we were hit off heading into the final hour. It wasn’t a mistake due to the drivers or the team, it was completely out of our control, so to lose a possible outright podium is a bitter pill to swallow. Still, we’ve got to take the positives away and be happy to take home a healthy points haul and now sit third in the title fight.”
Connor O’Brien, #35 GT4
"Qualifying started off good, we qualified in tenth and the start of the race was very smooth. I jumped in and we did a long stint, I had contact that put me into a spin which didn’t help us and then it went slightly downhill. I think we could have gone better, but its an improvement on Snetterton and we’re certainly heading in the right direction for the remainder of the season. A bit more luck and hopefully we can be a bit further up by Donington."
Patrik Matthiesen, #75 GT4
"The first stint was better for us and it was really fun to drive. I was trying to catch fourth and managed to get up to him at the end. In my second stint it was just about trying to keep the pace up and trying not to lose any time when the GT3s were running past. This weekend was a massive step for us, and we just need to focus on the car now and play with setup and go from there. Third in class is a lot better than the last rounds, and sixth overall too which is a big step for us, but we just want to be on the podiums. From now we’ll focus on the setup and get the car right for Donington and hopefully we can go from there."