Brendan Iribe and Ollie Millroy extend GT Open title advantage at Spa
Saturday proved to be a dramatic day for inception racing as the International GT Open Championship travelled to Spa Francorchamps. The #7 side of the Optimum Motorsport run team earned a fantastic pole position and subsequent class win, while the #72 side of the garage was out of the event with Nick Moss suffering a back injury.
Ollie Millroy and Nick Moss qualified the #7 and #72 McLaren 720S GT3s respectively for the third round of the championship, the former claiming a great overall and class pole position at the head of the field, with the latter a strong fifth. The 70-minute race saw Ollie retain his advantage at the head of the field ahead of the first Safety Car. Racing resumed on lap four, but moments later, the caution flag flew again and this time it was Nick.
The #72 McLaren sustained substantial damage in the single-car incident, with Nick in some discomfort as he exited the car. It was later confirmed that in the impact that he sustained two fractures to the vertebrae.
The racing resumed on lap ten and in just four laps, Ollie extended his advantage to over four seconds at the head of the field before pitting and handing over to teammate Brendan. With the carry-over ten second success penalty to serve, Brendan rejoined the race in second position, but crucially, still leading the class.
The race to the flag saw him absorb pressure superbly from those behind. Losing just one overall position to finish third on the road and to secure the Pro-Am victory.
Sunday’s race was always going to be a difficult challenge, with now 20 seconds of success penalty to be applied at the pitstop. Brendan was charged with qualifying and was right in the mix lining up fourth in class, eighth overall. He and the #88 of Patryk Krupinski enjoyed a good battle for position over a number of laps before Brendan pitted and handed the car over to Ollie.
Resuming after the time addition, Ollie pushed hard for the remainder of the race, progressing from 15th to seventh overall at the chequered flag. Ultimately however, fourth position in class was the maximum that could be achieved. With another 14 points on the board, Brendan and Ollie now lead the Pro-Am classification with 30-points, seven clear of their nearest rival.
The team now head back to the UK for a one-off appearance in the British GT Championship, with a return to Silverstone. In the meantime, everyone within the team, and indeed in the entire GT Open paddock, wishes Nick a speedy recovery and swift return to racing.
Bas Leinders, Optimum Motorsport Team Manager
"Of course, we are pleased with the results of Brendan and Ollie, both did an excellent job, and the package was just close to perfect for them this weekend. However, our thoughts are mainly with Nick as it is a shock for the whole team. We wish Nick a quick recovery, we know he will want to be out on track as soon as possible and enjoying his racing."
“First of all, I am really gutted for Nick. It’s always the worst feeling when you see your teammate in the wall. I’m wishing him a speedy recovery. On Saturday, we claimed the pole position, and then held the lead for the first stint. Brendan then handled the pressure well to take first place in Pro-Am, third overall even with our 10-second success handicap. Sunday saw us with 20-seconds success penalty but it’s been a solid weekend and we have extended our Pro-Am championship lead. Mega job by the whole team.”
“I’m obviously hoping that Nick can get back to full fitness as soon as possible. He’s a great guy and working and winning so much with him over the last year and a half has been a pleasure. He himself is already pumped to get back to it. I’m sure he will have an easy and speedy recovery as he’s both mentally and physically very strong.”