Following back-to-back victories in GT Open and Spa-Francorchamps, the Optimum Motorsport team put in another stellar performance in the penultimate round of the British series to overcome a 20-second success penalty and severe tyre degradation to claim the GT3 Silver Cup Championship at Brands Hatch with one round remaining.
It has been a sensational season for Ollie Wilkinson and Bradley Ellis in the #96 Aston Martin Vantage GT3. As a Silver-Silver line-up, the pairing is required to carry an additional 30KG of ballast which will always put them at a disadvantage against their Pro-Am rivals.
The team worked through the Saturday practice sessions, honing the car perfectly for the all-important qualifying. Ollie proved to be quickest of the first session, while Bradley backed this up superbly and combined, this gave them a front row start for Sunday’s two-hour race.
The start saw Ollie getaway superbly, taking the race lead as the 32-car field funnelled through Paddock Hill bend. Now with clear air, he was able to pull a margin of four seconds.
However, it soon became apparent that further progress would be all but impossible as the tyres started to degrade. Having reported a lack of rear end grip and the issue becoming more apparent, Ollie suffered a quick spin exiting turn one dropping him to fourth. Recovering quickly, he retained the place until pitting and handing over to Bradley.
Following the additional 20-seconds in the pits, Bradley exited the pits in ninth position but again felt that the rear of the Aston was not providing him with the grip they needed. With outright victory now not an option, the team elected to steer clear of any issues and bring the car home 11th overall to secure the Silver Cup.
“With limited testing as a team at this circuit, combined limited tyres available for free practice, we missed the perfect balance but we’ve also done really well together to get a front row start and then to be leading the race. We couldn’t have anticipated the tyre degradation going in so blind, but the team made a good stab at it and gave us a car worth of the front row start. With the Silver Cup Championship, that’s unbelievable really and to have one title to my name in my first season is extra special.”
“It’s amazing to win the Silver Cup today but also a little strange to be doing so in race that didn’t quite go to plan. It was just a question of getting the points we needed so now it’s a case of getting our heads down for Donington to see if we can produce a surprise in the outright championship.”
Shaun Goff, Optimum Motorsport Team Principal
“It’s fantastic to wrap up the Silver Cup for Ollie and Bradley with one round still to go and to be still in with a chance of the overall GT3 drivers’ championship is a great achievement for all of the team. We go to Donington in a positive frame of mind and with no success penalty, so anything could happen.”