A further Pro-Am podium but late-race scuffle leaves Optimum Motorsport disappointed
The opening round of the International GT Open race weekend at the Red Bull Ring brought Optimum Motorsport a further Pro-Am podium position, but this streak came to an end Sunday afternoon (13 September) at the home of the Austrian Grand Prix. In a race that promised a great, another strong result looked to be on the cards until the closing stages.
Following well-deserved third and fourth places in the Pro-Am class on Saturday, late race contact and a subsequent safety car period on Sunday following a tremendous battle for fifth, meant that the British-based team had to settle for seventh position overall, fourth in class.
Due to success penalties – courtesy of the previous race weekend at Paul Ricard - the team opted to switch the strategy this weekend. Traditionally, the Pro drivers of Joe Osborne and Ollie Millroy qualify and start the first race, with the Am drivers repeating the process for race two.
This weekend in Austria, the #72 side of the garage switched it around with Nick Moss qualifying a superb eighth overall for Saturday’s race. Ollie was left disappointed in the sister #7 as his qualifying runs were both interrupted by two red flag periods. He still managed fifth on the grid however.
The opening race saw diverging strategies but ultimately, the #72 of Nick and Joe finished just ahead of Ollie and Brendan Iribe. The 70-minute race saw battles throughout with Ollie running fourth on track for much his stint, second in class.
Unfortunately, the timing of the sole safety car saw him lose the hard-earned margin that he had managed to build up, making it especially tough on Brendan in the second portion of the event. The American racer pushed hard, but ultimately had to give way to the charging Joe, who had moved through the field following a difficult first lap from Nick.
Having finished third and fourth in class, expectations were high for Sunday’s race. Again, the differing strategies saw the teammates close up at the end of the race, but ultimately, Ollie was denied an opportunity to make further gains as he battled for sixth position with Sam de Haan in the closing stages.
Following the contact, for which the RAM Racing driver was given a penalty, Nick was under pressure from the Pro drivers behind with just one lap of racing to complete, ultimately finishing in seventh place overall and bringing an end to his consecutive streak of Pro-Am podium positions.
The team now head to Spa-Francorchamps to test ahead of the Belgian round. The next GT Open race takes place at Monza and is expected to suit the McLaren 720S GT3 package.
Shaun Goff, Optimum Motorsport Team Principal
“It has been a difficult weekend, but credit to both Am drivers did impressive jobs in their stints. The safety car intervention in race one put end to a decent result for Brendan Iribe and Ollie Millroy. We did get another podium from Joe Osborne and Nick Moss, but it’s a shame that one car benefits from the misfortune of the other.
“There was no success penalty for Brendan and Ollie in race two and a podium finish was on the cards, but we were unfortunate to be taken out by the RAM Racing Mercedes. That’s racing and the guys are naturally gutted, especially as the safety car closed the field up and with the Pro-drivers right behind Nick. A double podium weekend would have been good for them, but that is how it goes.
“A strong performance from both sides of the garage this weekend again, so credit to everyone in the team. On to Monza; We should be quick around there.”
Joe Osborne, #72 McLaren 720S GT3 with Nick Moss
“It was a good race on Saturday. Nick did very well in qualifying and in the race we were perhaps a little fortunate with the safety car timing as that helped us a bit with the Pro guys who were in at the start. We had the extra 15-seconds at the stop due to our recent podiums and that put us back a little. My stint was enjoyable though; I had a good battle with Charlie Eastwood and then I managed to get ahead of the sister car [Brendan] for the podium which was cool.
“Race two, I made a good start and passed the Ferrari. There was a little contact with Christian Klien who didn’t see me trying to go to his right, but there was nothing malicious in his move. I then got into a nice rhythm, knowing we had another 15-second penalty in the pits because of our podium run.
“Nick jumped in and had a brilliant stint! His defence in the closing stages to De Haan was excellent and it was looking so good. The contact brought out the safety car and then it was a last lap shoot-out with Nick against the Pros which was always going to be difficult. Nick is learning a great deal and that is the key thing to take from the race. Fourth is still a good result, as we become success penalty free for the next race at Monza.”
Ollie Millroy, #7 McLaren 720S GT3 with Brendan Iribe
“The big take away from Saturday’s race was that Brendan had by far his best race to date, it’s the best I have ever seen him drive. He defended really well, while his pace was awesome, so it is great to see him taking massive steps forward. For me, my start was good, and I was happy with the pace, but the safety car really didn’t help us. I lost all of the advantage that I had gained in the first half an hour and this then put Brendan on the back foot when he got in the car. One of those days, with the two red flags in qualifying and then the race with the safety car, but lots of points.
“Sunday’s race was good until the incident. It was 100 percent Sam’s fault, so now I look forward to getting back behind the wheel of the McLaren on Monday at Spa-Francorchamps.”