Momentum swings in Optimum Motorsport's favour ahead of penultimate British GT round
Following a dominant display at Spa-Francorchamps, Optimum Motorsport heads back to the UK next weekend with high hopes for the penultimate round of the British GT Championship.
The team returns to Brands Hatch with fond memories, having taken the championship lead at the track last season with ultimate champions, Jonny Adam and Flick Haigh. The 2018 pairing dominantly won the event to lead the series and sealed the title at the final round at Donington Park.
Ollie Wilkinson and Bradley Ellis also enjoyed a trio of success at the Kent-based circuit last year, securing all three victories in the GT Cup Championship.
The #96 pairing lie in third place in the overall GT3 drivers' classification and remain leaders of the Silver Cup. With just 16 points covering the top three, the duo heads to Brands Hatch with the greatest momentum off the back of their dominant victory at Spa; but do take the maximum success penalty into the eighth round of the series which makes the task a little tougher.
With back-to-back weekends of success, Ollie delivered the team's first win of the season the weekend earlier in Austria. Mirroring the confident display seen in Belgium, the Aston Martin Academy driver partnered alongside Jonny [Adam] in the GT Open Championship at the Red Bull Ring to win the weekend’s second event from lights to flag.
Mike Robinson and Patrik Matthiesen secured their best result of the season in the championships flyaway race, ending the weekend in the overall GT4 top five. The former has enjoyed three podiums at the Kent circuit since 2015, including two race wins in 2016 and 2018.
For the sister GT4 of Connor O'Brien and Jack Butel, Spa was a less positive weekend after an engine issue ended their outing prematurely. Early pace suggested a strong haul of points was on the cards before the race retirement.
Despite the mixed result at Spa, the four GT4 drivers have made substantial progress in recent races and are hoping for some good fortune at Brands Hatch.
Optimum Motorsport Team Principal, Shaun Goff
"Spa was a successful one as a whole, Connors qualifying, Mike and Patrik best race result and an overall win in GT3. Now we head to Brands Hatch and we know with the additional 20-seconds in the pits [success penalty] it will be tough to repeat the performance, but we’ll try and get the best from the race weekend. In saying that, running at Brands Hatch is very limited with the noise restrictions, so experience is important. In GT4, Mike showed well at Spa with the third fastest lap in the class, so we’ll be looking for more of the same in the next round, with the focus very much on qualifying."
Ollie Wilkinson, #96 GT3
“Spa was a hard weekend, even if the result doesn’t make it look that way, but it was a really good result. My Brand Hatch experience is actually limited, I’ve not raced there much, but it will be interesting anyway and I’m always up for a new challenge. Qualifying will be essential in getting a good result for the championship.”
Bradley Ellis, #96 GT3
"My task in the last race was made easier by the superb drive from Ollie. I just had to monitor the gaps at the front and respond accordingly. With success penalties at Brands, I don’t think we’ll be in such a comfortable position. The last time we were there was with the Audi R8 last year, so that means we’ve had no testing. It will be all about qualifying and having a clean start to the race and in the second half, it’s all about minimising the deficit to get strong points for the championship."
Jack Butel, #35 GT4
"Spa was really frustrating as the car was mega. We just didn’t get the result we deserved despite our pace. Brands really isn’t that much of a familiar circuit to me having only raced there three or four times – with the GP layout twice – but there’s no reason why we shouldn’t be back on the pace. With no testing, we head in a little blind with Saturday being our first day there, but we’re confident that the engine issues from Spa will be behind us and we can get a good result."
Mike Robinson, #75 GT4
"Spa was really good, and we had a big step forward with car performance. We hope to carry on making progress next time out at Brands and we have no penalties to take into the race either, so hopefully we can get a good result out of the weekend. But, given the nature of the circuit – where passing on the GP circuit is so difficult – qualifying will be key. Actually, maybe it would be nice if the weather breaks and its wet, something to mix it up!"