Optimum Motorsport celebrates GT Open class upgrade with a podium in Hockenheim
Just a day after Ollie Wilkinson and Optimum Motorsport were upgraded in class, the team concluded a successful weekend in Hockenheim with a well-fought podium finish in race two.
Le Mans winner, Darren Turner, joins the team for their International GT Open campaign, while Ollie's promotion to Silver driver on Saturday also elevates the team into the Pro class.
In qualifying, Ollie set a 1:37:880 to slot into sixth in class, for the weekends first race. With a frantic start to race one, Ollie was lucky to avoid getting caught up in the Lamborghini and Mercedes clash. Missing the contact by a hairs-width, the Aston Martin driver dodged through the gap to come out unscathed and maintained position amidst the resulting safety-car period.
After the restart Ollie clung to the back of the pack driving superbly before handing over the Vantage to Darren with 39 minutes left to run.
With those around them making their pit-stops Darren progressively made up places keeping a steady pace before finishing the day off in fifth place in Pro class and eighth overall.
In just his first qualifying session in the #96, Darren put the car on the second row with a 1:37:442 for Sundays race. Darren maintained third place as the lights went green, but running alongside two others heading into the Parabolica, he ultimately lost out and dropped down to fifth.
However, the Briton remained calm and within a handful of laps had moved back up into fourth and begun a pursuit of third place where a train of cars had formed behind the Emil Fey Racing Lamborghini in second.
The Teo Martin McLaren pitted first releasing Darren into some clean air. With an open road ahead Darren immediately reacted and swiftly became the quickest driver on track setting a concession of fastest laps before handing the car over to Ollie with 27 minutes left on the clock.
Ollie re-joined the track in second place, but with a charging Albert Costa in the Emil Frey Racing behind, he had a long 20 minutes ahead of him. Weaving through the traffic, Ollie slipped back into the clutches of Costa and despite defending excellently, Costa snuck into second place as the #96 ran wide into turn eight.
The team wrapped up the weekend with a top five finish and a podium as they close the gap to the leaders in the championship. The International GT Open returns at Spa-Francorchamps on 8-9 June.
Optimum Motorsport Team Principal, Shaun Goff:
“Confidence was high coming into the weekend with Ollie making big strides in his own ability with the Aston Martin GT3. Promotion into the Pro class was a challenge, but we were looking forward to it and it was a great start to see Darren qualifying in P3 overall. What followed in the race was a great-credit to the drivers, the teams super slick pit-stop and Ollie’s pace; matching the leaders kept us in touch for our first overall podium. Credit to everyone involved.”
"I really enjoyed joining Optimum this weekend and having the chance to race in GT Open again. It was also very good to drive alongside Ollie as he put in such a strong performance all weekend. It was a late call to change and join Pro Class so the podium felt that little bit extra special today."
"What a birthday weekend! It's unbelievable to take our first outright top-three Pro class result in our first weekend contesting the category. I only got upgraded to Silver driver yesterday and this is my first event co-driving with Darren, so it means so much. Massive thanks to Darren and the entire Optimum team for an outstanding effort all weekend once again. We get stronger with every race and I can't wait to see what we can do from here."