Optimum Motorsport prepared for first multi-class attack on Dubai 24 Hours
The 2016 Dubai 24 Hours is an “exciting" prospect for Optimum Motorsport, as the team is preparing for its first ever multi-class assault on the Middle Eastern endurance race, with its brand new Audi R8 LMS GT3 entered in the top A6 class and a Ginetta G55 GT4 in the SP3 division (14-16 January).
Optimum Motorsport is recognised as one of the world’s top Ginetta teams, having notched up British GT4 title successes and high profile endurance race victories during a long-standing and lucrative association with the flourishing British sportscar marque.
Shaun Goff, who has over a decade of experience in motor racing, has been at the helm of the Wakefield-based outfit since 2012 and saw his team to the 2013 British GT4 title and to the top step of the SP3 class podium in the Dubai 24 Hours and Mugello 12 Hours.
However, Optimum Motorsport graduates to GT3-spec machinery in 2016, as it will field the first new-generation customer Audi R8 LMS in both the Avon Tyres British GT Championship and 24H Series powered by HANKOOK, alongside its existing Ginetta GT4 and GT5 programmes.
German legend and Audi WRT ace Frank Stippler will partner British stars, Joe Osborne, Ryan Ratcliffe and Flick Haigh, in the team’s newly-acquired 585bhp, 5.2litre V10-engined R8 LMS in the 24H Series curtain-raiser in Dubai and Optimum Motorsport finds the idea of entering the headlining A6 class an “exciting, yet daunting” prospect.
Stippler said: “I look forward to starting the 2016 season with Optimum Motorsport and the team’s experience in Dubai and Shaun Goff’s focus gives me confidence that the basics are there to achieve a good result. The overall situation is difficult to judge, because it will be my first time in Dubai. I expect the Audi R8 LMS GT3 to be reliable and the team should be quick enough to get into the top ten, but the competition is very strong. We will need to find a nice balance, avoid mistakes on and off-track and strategy can have a big influence on the result.”
Meanwhile, two drivers from Optimum Motorsport’s winning 2015 line-up, Bradley Ellis and Ade Barwick, will attempt to defend their SP3 class victory alongside ex-Caterham Academy Group 1 Champion Elliott Norris and Daniel O’Brien at the Dubai Autodrome.
“The competition is higher than ever so the racing should be really close from start to finish and that's always good, as it keeps everyone on their toes for the full 24 hours,” said Ellis. “We have two inexperienced drivers in our car, but that shouldn't be too much of a problem because last year there were three who were new to 24-hour racing and we won the class. I’m sure that, working with Shaun's crew, my teammates and I can be competitive.”
Optimum Motorsport Team Principal, Sean Goff, said: “The Dubai 24 Hours is pretty exciting, as it’s Optimum Motorsport’s first attack on the top A6 class and the first time we’ll run two cars in the 24H Series, with a Ginetta in the SP3 division. With experienced personnel, a driver of Frank Stippler’s calibre and the likes of Joe Osborne, Ryan Ratcliffe and Flick Haigh, who have all contested the Dubai 24 Hours before, a strong result with the Audi R8 is realistic.
“In the Ginetta we have our 2015 winners Bradley Ellis and Ade Barwick, plus Elliott Norris and Daniel O’Brien. It might be a little tougher to replicate last year’s result. Elliott hasn’t had much track time during the last few seasons, but has tested the car at Silverstone, while Daniel is fresh from his maiden year of circuit racing in our Ginetta G40 after a career in rallying. He has done two days of testing in the GT4 car, but also gained endurance experience in the 2015 Funcup 25 Hours of Spa.”
Goff added: “However, in endurance racing you rely heavily on luck and split-second decisions can make all the difference when trying to get the edge on your rivals. We recently recruited more talented mechanics who are well-versed with Audi GT3s, we have strong drivers and good cars, so all the necessary ingredients are there. We recognise that this year’s entry is the most competitive to date, but the level of competition will make a result all the more rewarding.”
Extensive live coverage of the 2016 Hankook 24H Dubai will be aired on Motors TV from 13.30 local time on Friday 15 January, while the while the entire event will also be streamed live on the official www.24hseries.com website, including commentary by www.radiolemans.com.