Inception Racing by Optimum secure P5 in the 24H Dubai to make GT history with McLaren
The 24H Dubai got off to a fantastic start for the Inception Racing by Optimum Motorsport team, with an opening stint that saw the #72 720S GT3 take the honour of being the first McLaren to lead outright the jewel in the Creventic 24H Series crown in Dubai. There were many positives from the race, including super teamwork, pace, and persistence, but ultimately contact at just past the six-hour mark, cost the team over 20-minutes in repairs, eliminating the opportunity of taking the class win.
Three times a winner of the event, Optimum Motorsport will now have to wait until 2022 to try for number four but that’s not discounting the massive effort from all involved to secure fifth position in the GT3 Am class – whilst recording McLaren first 24-Hour race finish in the 720S - on a weekend where some exceptional circumstances were thrown the team’s way.
Once again, Ollie Millroy, Nick Moss, Joe Osborne, and Brendan Iribe teamed up, arriving at Dubai Autodrome hot on the heels of the Gulf 12 Hours. However, the latter did not take part in the race itself as a precaution after feeling unwell. This meant that fellow Bronze-racer Nick had quite a task, with his driving time extended to a daunting 12 hours. Without his record-breaking efforts, both in terms of commitment to the team, as well as quite incredible pace over such a long time period, the Inception Result would not have been possible.
The team were back on track for the unofficial practice sessions on Wednesday before the real thing and qualifying the following day. Joe was charged with qualifying duties, taking the car to ninth on the overall grid and third in the GT3 Am class.
Unlike the 2020 edition of the race, there was not a rain drop in sight as Joe lined up for the start of the race on Friday afternoon. A superb opening lap saw him gain two positions from the outset ahead of the first, of an eventual 16 Code 60s, to fly on lap five. Joe and the team opted to remain on track as others boxed for a maximum mandated half tank of fuel.
This put Joe at the head of the field to record 25 laps in the lead of the race, recording another first for the McLaren brand in the 24H Dubai in leading the event outright in the 720S. After 90-minutes of competition, the team started to cycle through its drivers. First Ollie suffered right rear contact in traffic and then Nick suffered the same fate, resulting in suspension failure. The team were forced to pit from the lead of GT3 AM - and eighth position overall - the team set about the repairs before resuming almost 25-minutes later.
From this point, hopes of a class victory had been dashed, and it was a matter of running hard through the night, whilst managing Nick’s substantial workload. The sun rose at 7am, with #72 running in sixth position in class, 11th position overall. The impressive runs from Nick came aplenty with Ollie and Joe taking over when required. With strong pace Nick overhauled the #19 Mercedes with three hours remaining and with misfortune falling for the #85 entry, fourth position was there for the taking only for a final Code 60 to fall against the team, resulting in a fifth position in class and tenth place overall
The team now hope for a sliver of better fortune this coming week as they cross the UAE border to compete in the 6H Abu Dhabi.
Shaun Goff, Inception Racing by Optimum Motorsport Team Principal
“We’re delighted to have brought our McLaren 720S GT3 to the chequered flag in a 24-Hour GT race, whilst making a little history for the brand in GT3 racing. It wasn’t easy and every 24 is tough, and this was no exception due to some external factors.
“We had some additional issues within the team regarding the delay in delivery of the car we intended to use, so we had to move over the Bahrain car over to Dubai. Then, unfortunately, Brendan was feeling unwell heading into the race days, so we had some big decisions to make. This meant that Nick was faced with a huge challenge in completing 12 hours of running as the Am racer, but he was immediately up for the task for which we are grateful.
“Then, the race itself, with some many classes and with such differing speeds, it was almost inevitable that we’d pick up contact damage and we did and this in effect dropped us ten or more laps back. Considering these challenges, a top ten overall and a P5 in the GT3 AM class was a fantastic result. It was a big team effort, but a big hats-off to Nick for his exceptional attitude and performance.”
“It was a challenge for me to do 12 hours of racing, but it’s also a fun challenge for me and it was something I didn’t expect to be asked to do, but it was enjoyable, tiring but ultimately rewarding!”
“It’s great to get the first 24-Hour race finish for the 720S, an achievement for both the team and for McLaren. I just wish I hadn’t been asked to bring the car home right at the end as it was so nerve wracking, a stint you really don’t want to do! It was my first time competing in a 24-Hour event in a GT car as well and I have learned so much over the two days, especially with so many classes in the same race.
“I’m so, so gutted that Brendan wasn’t able to take part, but on the plus-side, Nick did an incredible job to do the 12-Hours, unbelievable, and I am sure that McLaren themselves have learned a lot and can a lot of satisfaction from this result.”
“In our pre-race briefing, it quickly became clear that with Brendan unwell, that the only option was to ask Nick to run for 12 Hours. We all agreed that wasn’t possible and Nick took that as extra motivation to get the job done and he dug deep and got the job done.
“For the team, it’s mega for us to take the 720S to its first 24-Hour finish and it’s a credit to Optimum given that the build-up to the event wasn’t easy in bringing the Bahrain car here to Dubai at the last minute. A little bit of damage in the night cost us over 20-minutes and if it wasn’t for that, we would have secured the podium.”