Disappointment for Optimum in British GT at Snetterton
Snetterton marked the halfway point of the Avon Tyres British GT Championship. Teams and fans alike were greeted with blue skies and warm temperatures as the cars took to the track over the course of the weekend. Optimum experienced a tough weekend with mechanical issues taking them out of the first race, and preventing them from competing in the second race.
Jade Edwards has joined the team to partner Matt Draper in his championship bid, and will see out the rest of the season with Optimum. Whilst joining a team halfway through the season will be a steep learning curve, Jade has previously raced in lower series' and will be a strong addition to the team.
Practice / Qualifying - Race 1: P8 [P29 Overall] | Race 2: P6 [P26 Overall]
The #41 car was late to join the track for the first practice session, which meant Draper was late to find the rhythm; but find the rhythm he did, putting the car up into P4 in GT4 (P25 overall). Edwards later took over for her first taste of on-track action behind the wheel of the Ginetta G55, and managed to keep the car in P5 (P26 overall) as the chequered flag waved.
Edwards was first out for the second practice session, putting the #41 car up into P4 straight away. The remainder of the session was fairly uneventful with a late spin from Draper meaning the #41 ended the session P7 (P28 overall).
Edwards was responsible for qualifying the car for race 1. A 15-minute window to get a best lap time in for a new driver to the series is, needless to say, a challenging prospect. Edwards managed to steadily improve upon her time, gaining valuable experience and ultimately putting the car in P8 (P29 overall).
A red flag during Draper’s qualifying session meant he was unable to even set a lap time until 7 minutes in. The disturbance meant Draper qualified for race 2 in P6 (P26 overall).
Race 1 - DNF
Edwards was first to drive the #41 Optimum Motorsport car, but she was plagued with a driveshaft issue before she even got the chance to begin the race. A superb effort from the team mechanics meant she was able to quickly rejoin, albeit last. Whilst a tough way to begin her first race with the team, Edwards put in a good effort, gaining valuable experience.
Draper took over the car after the pit window, but following the issues at the beginning of the race there was not much he could do to gain positions. Five minutes before the end a dropped valve forced the car into retirement, ending what had been a harsh race for the duo.
Race 2 - DNS
Unfortunately the team were unable to make the necessary repairs to the car before the start of Race 2 due to a lack of time, so both Draper and Edwards were unable to compete.
Shaun Goff – Team Principal
“Jade made massive improvements through the race; for a first weekend, new team, new car, she did a fantastic job and we’re very confident in her ability. The traffic didn’t work well with the GT3 cars at some points, but she got the car to the pit stop and handed it over to Matt. It was very difficult to get a result. We needed a safety car to put us back in to contention, but that never arose and we suffered an engine failure some five minutes before the end of the race, which forced us to retire. That meant we were unable to change the engine in the time before the next race. Matt himself has found a bit more confidence, and we’ve got some more pace in the car and we know we are going in a direction which suits both drivers so hopefully going into Spa we can put all of this behind us and get better results”
“The weekend started off fairly positive. We had Free Practice 1 and Jade did really well to get her times down to a really competitive level and I set a quick time during that session also. For the second session, we had fresh tyres and the track was warmer, but we still couldn’t match the time we did in the first session as we were playing around with set up. In qualifying we were hampered by the flag, and I made a mistake so it wasn’t as good as we would have liked. We were fairly positive about the race as Jade’s pace is very, very competitive against the other gentlemen drivers and I didn’t have too much time to find against the quicker guys in our category. Unfortunately we had an issue at the start, and the team was really great at getting us back out again, but we really needed a safety car to catch up to the rest of the pack, which we didn’t get. So for us, the rest of the race was treated a bit like a testing session; looking at the car and figuring out where we could tweak things to go a bit quicker. Unfortunately 5 minutes to the end of the race the engine blew, so when it rains it pours.”
The team now turn their attention to Spa Francorchamps, Belgium, for the fifth round of the Avon Tyres British GT Championship, on 11-12 July.