Optimum Motorsport look forward to its race debut at the 24 Hours of Spa
After an intense season-long programme of GT3 racing, Optimum Motorsport are looking forward to making their debut in the Total 24 Hours of Spa this coming weekend (22 – 25 October, 2020) in what is the seventh round of the GT World Challenge Europe championship.
It may be the team’s first 24H race at Spa, but Optimum Motorsport has a rich and diverse pedigree having taken multiple race victories in the 24 Hours of Dubai. At Spa, the team fields the #69 McLaren 720S for Rob Bell, Joe Osborne and Ollie Wilkinson and is looking to build on the strong performances demonstrated at both Imola and Nürburgring.
Ollie is also enjoying a strong campaign in the British GT Championship, while Joe has been busy with the team in the International GT Open Championship, taking a class victory as recently as last Sunday at Spa-Francorchamps. Along with Rob – a stalwart of the 24 - the trio of drivers also took part in the official test ahead of this weekend’s race and were duly greeted with the expected changeable conditions, perfect preparation for the challenge this weekend.
The action gets underway with practice, qualifying and night practice. Friday is given over to warmup and the battle for Super Pole. The 24 Hours of racing starts at 15.30 CEST on Saturday and concludes, with the clocks going back overnight, at 14.30 Sunday.
Shaun Goff, Optimum Motorsport Team Principal
“It is our first Spa 24, but not our first 24. It’s actually my 12th as a team owner but yes, I am really looking forward to the challenge and the event as a whole. We have made great strides with the race package over the season, in all championships, not just GT World Challenge. There’s been such a fantastic effort from the team back at the workshop, race-side, the drivers and McLaren Woking to get us into this best possible position.
“It will be a good, tough battle and we’re as prepared as we could be. We know that qualifying this year has been our Achilles' heel, but in a 24 Hour race, this takes on less significance, so we will focus purely on the race performance and we have proven that on race day we always move forward. It is a big week for us, we represent McLaren, but most importantly, we will give our very best for us all within the Optimum Motorsport family.”
“I can’t wait to be back at the Spa 24, it’s been a little while for me [2017 in the McLaren 650S GT3] since my last race in this great race. It’s always a difficult race to watch from home as it is the blue riband of our GT3 calendar so I’m desperately looking forward to competing there once again. The overriding thing we need to take note of is that we’re the only McLaren entry into the race, so we have a little added pressure in representing the brand at such a prestigious race and it’s also a first for the 720S GT3 at the event.
“It may be unchartered territory for us, but we are confident in the car heading into the race as it has performed well at the differing circuits that we’ve been to this year. So, we’re in a great place with the car at the moment, the team has done a good job and we continue to learn together. We’re in a good place at the moment, the three of us - Joe, Ollie and I - have been working really well together and it’s been a pleasure to be part of that, so we just carry that forward and see what the race brings.
“For me personally, I go there and give Spa the respect it deserves as it is a hard race in July, let alone in late October! I’m sure this year it will be an even bigger challenge with the undoubted changeable conditions, more darkness, but we go there to enjoy the week and I can’t wait to get started.”
“It feels a little David and Goliath in being the only McLaren in the 24, as well as Optimum Motorsport and Ollie making their race debuts here, but we know the gains we have made this year and this is the challenge we have and look forward to. The team has excellent endurance experience - and win record - and have grasped the challenge so well this year, so that’s all invaluable for the week ahead. The Spa winners in the recent past have shown the way, with their ethos of competing at this level, so this is something we need to understand, replicate and take for the same route to success.
“It’s a great race, but it will be tough, there will be no quarter given by anyone, and I know come the end of the 24 hours of racing, there will be tenths, not ten-seconds, between us all. That’s the mentality we need to strive towards, especially with the weather factor. It’s going to be unlike the normal summer races here, so we’ll have to think outside of the box a little, it’s a very different Spa 24 this year.”
"It’s unbelievable to be heading into my first Spa 24 Hours, racing for McLaren – it’s going to be one hell of an experience. For me, there’s nothing like Spa; driving there is incomparable to any other circuit. Add to that the nature of this historic event and it’s like nothing I’ve tackled before. Everything we’ve done so far has been working towards this weekend, I’ve prepared as much as I can but there’s no better way to learn than in the race itself. The majority of the field will have far more experience than I have, but I’ve got a lot of people around me – not least Rob and Joe.
"The race being held in October for the first time is a great leveller for everyone. The official test last month was really positive and great preparation, but I’m not underestimating how tough it will be. For me, just to finish at my first attempt would be an achievement. That said, I’m ready to grab every opportunity!"