Optimum Motorsport seals a podium and retains British GT4 lead at Snetterton
An exercise in damage limitation at Snetterton yielded a podium result for Optimum Motorsport (6-7 August), which crucially retains the initiative in the GT4 standings ahead of the final round of the 2016 Pirelli British GT Championship.
Warm summer temperatures made the setup previously tested by drivers Graham Johnson and Mike Robinson redundant, therefore free practice at a sunny Snetterton was spent fettling the #50 Ginetta G55 GT4.
Optimum Motorsport used its extensive banks of knowledge and reams of data to decide on a course that would satisfy both drivers and it ultimately opted to revert back to a default setup, which has served it so well in the past.
However, both Johnson and Robinson still felt they had left time on the table in qualifying on Saturday (6 August) and the championship leaders would start Sunday’s (7 August) two races from second and fifth, but confident that progress could be made, even with a seven-second success penalty to serve.
The only way was to attack both races head-on, but Optimum Motorsport was unable to make an impression on the podium places in the first tie, despite Johnson snatching fourth at the start.
Fifth was the most it could achieve against the untouchably dominant Aston Martins, but Robinson and Johnson kept the faith and the podium was still in their sights entering the second and final British GT race of the weekend.
The 60-minute tour of Snetterton’s 2.99mile ‘300’ configuration started with Optimum Motorsport running well in sixth, in the wheel-tracks of the #46 Ginetta of Bradley Ellis and Ade Barwick and ahead of a pair of GT4-spec Aston Martins.
A defiant rear-guard action delayed the advancing Generation AMR MacMillan Racing entry of Matthew Graham, and a well-timed and swiftly executed driver-change ensured the Professional Motorsport World Expo-liveried Ginetta leapt up the leaderboard.
It was only when all strategies shook out that Optimum Motorsport was revealed as the second-placed GT4 runner and, although the 11-second gap to the leading Beechdean Aston Martin of Jack Bartholomew was unbridgeable, Johnson maintained a comfortable advantage over the rest of the field to seal yet another well-deserved podium.
“I’m feeling really good about our results and the fact we were able to move forward in race two,” said Robinson. “I never thought we’d be able to move that far forwards; we had a bit of fortune with other cars breaking down, but the plan was to keep with the other Ginettas and do a bit of damage limitation for the championship as we head into the final round at Donington Park. It’s critical to be leading it now.”
Johnson added: “A podium was a bit unexpected today and that’s mainly because the Balance of Performance was ridiculously in favour of the Aston Martins. Anybody in a Ginetta was unable to compete with those in an Aston or a McLaren because they were so much faster in a straight line. It was a big damage limitation exercise here and I hope the BoP will be looked at before the next round.”