Optimum Motorsport dominates GT4 in British GT Bank Holiday blast at Oulton Park
For Optimum Motorsport, the British GT Championship’s Bank Holiday blast around Oulton Park was a mixed bag, as dominant race-winning GT4 performances were tempered by underwhelming results in the headlining GT3 division (28-30 May).
A tyre deflation heavily disrupted qualifying for the team’s GT3 pairing, Will Moore and Ryan Ratcliffe, but it was a slight mistake on Moore’s flying lap that ultimately resigned him to seventh on the race one grid.
Having used front tyres that were reserved for Ratcliffe during Moore’s qualifying run, there was an imbalance in the Audi R8 LMS for the remainder of the session and a position at the tail end of the race two starting order was all that could be mustered.
However, the pairing made good initial progress in race one. Moore rose to fourth on the road and pitted from the lead, but a slight miscalculation meant Optimum Motorsport dipped below its minimum pit stop time.
The Audi Sport Customer Racing team was slapped with a one-second stop/go penalty for its misdemeanour and tumbled back down to 13th, and another problematic pit stop would prevent it from achieving a representative result in race two also.
Ratcliffe started well and settled into a good rhythm on the approach to the compulsory driver-change, where chunks of time were lost, and Moore then put in some of the fastest laps of the race, only to be baulked by traffic on Oulton Park’s narrow confines and limited to an 11th place finish.
In contrast, Optimum Motorsport was able to put its British GT4 title bid back on track after a non-finish last time out at Rockingham, as pole positions for both races were converted into a brace of wins by Mike Robinson and Graham Johnson.
The PMW Expo Racing Ginetta G55 led from lights-to-flag in race one and subsequently carried a success penalty into the second encounter on Bank Holiday Monday, but this was overcome in an extraordinary performance that exceeded the team’s own expectations, and a second win solidified their championship lead.
Optimum Motorsport Team Principal, Shaun Goff, reflected on the results, saying: “The GT3 results didn’t reflect Ryan Ratcliffe and Will Moore’s potential and mistakes and a tyre deflation in qualifying put them on the back foot for the races, simply because it’s so difficult to overtake at Oulton Park. Unbeknown to us, Ryan suffered with an imbalance because we had to put him on used front tyres and new rears, so he was unable to get anywhere near his best.
“The drivers raced really well from their respective grid positions and the Audi R8 was up at the sharp end in race one, but errors in the stops resulted in time losses. It was a weekend to forget for the Audi, but we learnt a lot of lessons that we’ll take forward for the better.”
Goff added: “Having not finished at Rockingham, it was great to see the PMW Expo Racing Ginetta back on top, qualifying in P1 and translating that into race victories! Graham Johnson and Mike Robinson are full of confidence this year and the car is really working well; it’s a testament to the team and their hard work to repair the car after Rockingham.
"Race one we led from start to finish – it was as simple as that – and the time penalty for race two meant a podium was a realistic aim. We didn’t think the top step was achievable! The next stop is Silverstone and that isn’t a favoured track for the Ginetta, so it was critical that we made hay while the sun shone at Oulton Park.”