Optimum has “unfinished business” as Sandström bolsters 24H Paul Ricard line-up
Optimum Motorsport welcomes Audi Sport factory driver Edward Sandström for its second twice-around-the-clock endurance race of 2016, the CREVENTIC 24H Series powered by HANKOOK 24H Paul Ricard (15-17 July).
Sandström’s motorsport career had unusual beginnings. He was one of 450 entrants in a competition organised by Swedish motoring magazine, Teknikens Värld, and was one of ten finalists who were rigorously tested in a wide range of disciplines.
The Scandinavian emerged as the clear winner and his prize of a full-time drive in the 1999 Swedish Junior Touring Car Championship (JTCC) ultimately served as an effective springboard to a career as a professional racing driver for Audi Sport Customer Racing in the Blancpain Endurance Series, FIA GT Series and Nürburgring 24 Hours.
With a driver who has seen some success in the 24H Dubai and 24H Barcelona in its ranks alongside known quantities in the shape of Ryan Ratcliffe, Joe Osborne and Flick Haigh, Optimum Motorsport will be targeting a big result at Circuit Paul Ricard to compensate for the victory it was cruelly denied in the 12H Mugello in March.
Optimum Motorsport Team Principal, Shaun Goff, said: “Expectations are high for the 24H Paul Ricard, as I believe that we have one of the strongest line-ups once again and, having been so close to winning in Mugello, I am keen to bounce back and set a high goal. There is a bit of pressure there, but we’ve got everything together and we know you’re always reliant on some luck in 24-hour endurance racing.
“The team is well-drilled, our drivers are top quality and I do expect a very good result. We have unfinished business. Edward (Sandström) tested with us at Silverstone; his technical knowledge of the car is very good and he should work really well with team and his co-drivers, passing on his experience to them. He will be an asset for a 24-hour race.”
Sandström said: “I did a small test with Optimum in June, I enjoyed every minute of it and now I look forward to racing together. I think I have pretty good knowledge of the new generation Audi R8 LMS GT3 from my testing duties with Audi, but the Hankook tyres are new to me. Apart from the car, I've done quite a lot of 24-hour races and I've actually been doing a lot of endurance testing at Paul Ricard too.
“I met Ryan (Ratcliffe) and Joe (Osborne) at the test at Silverstone. Flick (Haigh) I haven't met yet, but I followed the team in Dubai and Mugello and it was in the mix for a top result both times. I think all of us go to Paul Ricard with a intention of winning, but I know it's only possible if we stay out of trouble and have a bit of luck on our side.”
Sandström added: “I was winning the Dubai 24 Hours in 2011 and finished fourth in 2012, so I've quite a lot of experience. The Audi R8 is probably one of the most reliable GT3 cars in the field, so, from that aspect, it’s a good car to have. Regarding performance, I think Paul Ricard fits well – even better with the chicane, as we're normally good on brakes – and I also think we can achieve a good tyre life with the car on this track. Let's see!”