Optimum Motorsport concluded its 2019 International GT Open championship programme with a further podium position to cap off what has been a very successful year with the new Aston Martin Vantage GT3.
Saturday’s third position in the penultimate round was especially noteworthy as it brought together all the elements of great teamwork and strategy as well as perfect stints from both Darren Turner and Ollie Wilkinson behind the wheel.
Given the nature of the Monza circuit, the team spent much of the Friday practice sessions working on a setup which would give them the corner traction, and subsequently, ultimate top end speed at the end of the long straights. Qualifying for the 13th and penultimate round saw Darren record the seventh fastest time. Strategy needed to come into play.
The start saw Teo Martin’s McLaren lose its bonnet and drop out of contention with Darren lining up behind the #17 of Andros Saravia as the race settled down. Despite very considerable efforts, Darren was unable to make the pass as the team then opted to extend his stint to the end of the pitstop window. As other pitted for the mandatory driver change, Darren was able to put in a string of quick laps before pitting on lap 22 to hand over to Ollie.
Exiting third, the pressure was now on the Aston Martin Racing Driver Academy racer with the three championship contenders right behind him. It was a perfect stint from the British youngster who never wavered and duly held off numerous challenges to record another standout podium position.
Qualifying for the 14th and final round of the season saw Ollie pushing hard. Unfortunately, an off at the fast Ascari turn brought his challenge to a premature end, after setting the eighth fastest time. The race proved tricky with a downshift issue making life harder, first for Ollie and then for Darren, but the seventh-place finish in the finale brought to a close a great campaign that yielded three podiums and an outright victory.
As a customer Aston Martin racing team, Optimum Motorsport hopes to continue in the prestigious international series next season whilst looking at various options across both GT3 and GT4 championships for next season.
“It is true that we are looking at Blancpain GT for next season, but we have really enjoyed our two years in International GT Open and really hope that we can come back next season,” stated Team Principal Shaun Goff. “We have some great memories from the season and look forward to competing again in 2020.”
“First off I’d like to thank the Optimum Motorsport team for welcoming me this year to work alongside Ollie. They gave me a great car throughout my season and I’m proud to have races with the. The first race was really good; and I enjoyed the battles. We ran long and then Ollie took over from P3. He was under pressure from the guys behind, but he defended brilliantly and gave them no chance to get down the inside. The second race was more difficult, but ultimately it has been a great season for us all in GT Open.”
“It’s been great getting to grips and helping to develop the new GT3 with Optimum Motorsport. We have been on a roller-coaster in terms of results, but overall, it has been a very good season both here in GT Open, but also in British GT. We got the first Pro-class win, so thanks to both Darren and Jonny Adam for supporting me in this championship.”