Contact denies Optimum Motorsport chance to shine in Monza
Optimum Motorsport’s pace in Le Mans Cup’s Monza Round showed potential for the team’s first top-ten finish of the season however, contact at the start of the race denied the #20 duo of Mark Crader and Alex Mortimer a chance to shine.
In a weekend with track temperatures reaching over 53 degrees, the competition out on track was also heating up as the championship heads into the second half. Qualifying P22, Mark was on starting duties and bumped up to P21 for the race start.
As the green flag dropped, all cars got a clean getaway into the first chicane, with Mark gaining three places, sitting comfortably in 18th. Shortly after, upon entry into Turn eight, Mark made contact with DKR’s #3 LMP3 car, causing it to spin into the gravel and the full course to fall under yellow flag conditions. As a result, Mark received a drive through penalty which was served straight after.
No sooner had the race action got underway again, United Autosports #22 and GRAFF Racing’s #57 LMP3 cars collided at Turn 1, once again bringing out the yellow flags.
Further contact during the race saw the team box to repair the front right damage sustained. Returning to the race in 31st, it was a race against the clock to get back into position.
As the pit window opened Bullitt Racing’s #99 Aston Martin found itself in the grave, bringing out double yellow flags. Teams capitalised on this to pit and cycle through their driver changes, with Mark coming in to hand over to Alex.
30 minutes to go and GMB’s #44 Ferrari, like Bullitt’s Aston, was in the gravel travel, seeing all cars reduce their speed to 80km/h. At this point, Alex was catching the pack ahead and sitting in P25.
Green once more and with eight laps left to complete, Alex had the pace to move through the field and ultimately, cross the line in P21.
Points were within reach and although not the result wanted; the team can be proud of their hard work under the Italian sun. The Le Mans Cup action will resume after a 2-month break where Circuit Spa-Francorchamps will host the next round.
“The car was great, sometimes it sucks when you’re in the battle and then you get contact, but that’s racing! It was a mega job by everyone in the team.”