While the GT3 side of the Optimum Motorsport garage wrapped up the Silver Cup honours with one round remaining, both GT4 Aston Martin Vantage entries suffered mechanical issues beyond the control of the team, but still came out with a double top-ten result in the penultimate round of the British GT Championship at Brands Hatch.
Patrik Matthiesen and Mike Robinson continued the good form showed at Spa-Francorchamps, picking up pace throughout the day in the #75 entry before together qualifying in an excellent fourth position.
Contact at the start made life more difficult for Patrik as he lost a little ground, but despite some rather aggressive racing from some of his rivals, was able to bring the car back for Mike’s stint in sixth position.
However, with the exhaust closed up after contact and the car starting to suffer temperature issues, Mike suffered gear-shift issues which meant that they could not use the full rev-range, nor select the required gear on occasion. Perseverance paid off as the team managed to bring the GT4 home in fifth position.
For Jack Butel and Connor O’Brien in the #35, a finish by itself was a reward for all the hard work the Optimum Motorsport mechanics put in to even get the car out for qualifying. A fuel cell issue cost the pairing almost all of free practice, so to finish in the top ten was a worthy achievement.
“There are lots of positives for us from this round as the balance of the car was good. We had an issue with the gearbox though which was okay if I was in clear air, but if the car ahead started to defend, I was unable to maintain my pace and had pressure from behind. I found myself in a position where I was trying to cool the car on the straights, but that meant going offline and getting into the marbles. But still, it’s a good result considering the issues we as drivers and the team had to manage. Onto the next one.”
“I had two plans for the start of the race but unfortunate I was hit from behind just before the red lights went out, so that compromised my speed off the start and I then battled hard with one of the BMWs before he made a mistake and I was through and able to pit in fourth position for Mike. The car felt really good though, even with the massive hit at the start on the left rear and I‘m looking forward to Donington.”
“At one point it did even look like we wouldn’t get to qualify, let alone do the race, so full credit to the team for their hard work in solving something that was beyond their control. With virtually no practice, I had a really difficult qualifying session and then starting 18th and moving up to the top ten was a really satisfying stint for me.”
“I’m over the moon with the finish and I really enjoyed battling with some top-level guys which given the weekend we’d had until the race is really good, some good battles.”
Shaun Goff, Optimum Motorsport Team Principal
“For Patrick and Mike, a podium could have been there this weekend after a strong qualifying performance, but we sustained some left rear damage off the line, and this gave us temperature issues which in turn resulted in the car auto-shifting. This made it hard to know what the car was going to do. We had a tough start to the weekend with the #35, but the guys were super-professional about it all and to get out in qualifying which in itself was impressive. We were lacking track time and that hurt our starting position, but they worked their way through for a good result.”