Optimum Motorsport pockets first British GT3 points at Rockingham
Optimum Motorsport scored its first points in the Pirelli British GT Championship’s headlining GT3 division, as Ryan Ratcliffe and Will Moore raced to a sixth place finish at Rockingham Motor Speedway (30 April-1 May).
The Wakefield-based team conducted one day of testing at Anglesey in Wales prior to the second round of the 2016 British GT season in a bid to optimise its Audi R8 LMS GT3 for the demands of Rockingham, following a troubled start to the season at Brands Hatch.
Reports from the test were positive and the team continued making progress in free practice at the Corby circuit. It reduced its pace deficit significantly and then finished seventh in the combined Pro-Am GT3 qualifying result, but bringing the car home in one piece in the top six was the chief aim for the main event.
Sadly, Moore was in the wars at the start of Sunday’s (1 May) race and positions were lost. Contact was made with Ian Stinton’s Ginetta and Rick Parfitt Junior’s Bentley and the Leeds driver was in a lonely sixth position when he was slapped with a ten-second stop-go penalty for causing the collisions.
Tenth after serving his penalty, Moore ran an extended stint. A compulsory driver-change preceded a relatively untroubled drive for Ratcliffe, who dealt with some aerodynamic deficiencies and brought the black and orange Audi to the chequered flag in a highly creditable sixth position.
Ratcliffe said: “I’m really happy to have finished sixth after a stop-go penalty. Optimum Motorsport’s pit work was faultless again and, as we’re taking this as our first round, finishing inside the top six is a very creditable result. It’s all about consistent points from here on out and I think we’ll be happy if we finish in the top five in all of the remaining races. Straightline speed is still an issue and something needs to change between now and the next round at Oulton Park if we’re to be competitive.”
Moore added: “This weekend went a lot better than the previous one at Brands Hatch, having tested in the week. We arrived with far more confidence in the car, we were competitive in free practice two, but we didn’t maximise the tyres when they were at their best in qualifying and we could have been a little higher up on the grid.
“In the race, it got a bit messy. I went for a couple of overtakes that weren’t really on in highsight. Obviously, the stop-go penalty hurt us so we have to be really pleased with sixth place. We wanted points coming into the weekend and that’s what we’ve got.”
Brands Hatch GT4 class winners, Graham Johnson and Mike Robinson, were once again the ones to beat at Rockingham Motor Speedway.They went second fastest in both practice sessions before really opening the taps in qualifying to seal the GT4 pole, and Johnson retained the initiative until the very end of his stint in the race itself, when contact with an unsighted GT3 car at Tarzan left him stranded with broken suspension and pointing in the wrong direction.
The 2016 Pirelli British GT Championship moves on to the picturesque Oulton Park circuit in Tarporley, Cheshire for Rounds 3 and 4 on 28-30 May.