Optimum Motorsport welcomes return of Ratcliffe for 12H Italy-Mugello
Optimum Motorsport welcomes the return of Ryan Ratcliffe as the team aims to build on its impressive GT3 debut when the CREVENTIC 24H Series powered by HANKOOK lands on European shores for the 12H Italy-Mugello (18-19 March).
The season-opening Dubai 24 Hours proved to be an effective replacement for pre-season testing and an ideal opportunity for Ratcliffe to get acquainted with Optimum Motorsport’s newly acquired Audi R8 LMS GT3 in preparation for a full-time attack on the British GT Championship.
Ratcliffe initially had no intention of entering the remaining rounds of the CREVENTIC 24H Series, but Optimum Motorsport’s outstanding performance on its A6 class debut in Dubai spurred the Llanelli-based driver to sign up for Round 2 of the championship, the 12H Italy-Mugello, later this month.
He will once again team up with rapid female racer Flick Haigh and the fast and affable Joe Osborne and he believes there’s the potential to achieve a big result on his first ever visit to Autodromo Internazionale del Mugello in the rolling hills of Tuscany.
“It’s so hard to get a decent test day in the UK at this time of year, so doing the Dubai 24 Hours made perfect sense, but I never intended to do any more 24H Series races, as I wanted to purely focus on my season in British GT,” said Ratcliffe. “However, we had a really strong finish in Dubai, the team showed huge potential and I knew it could fight for wins in future races, and I came to the conclusion that it’s good for me to get as much seat time in the car before British GT. My previous experiences have taught me that you need as much time in the car as possible to be competitive at this level, so I decided to commit to the 12H Italy-Mugello.
“I have never been to Mugello before, but the track looks great. It’s nothing like I’ve ever driven before so I’m really looking forward to the new experience and I’m hopeful that we can come away with a result. I haven’t been this excited about a season of racing before and I cannot wait to get it back underway!”
Haigh added: “I think as a team we took a lot of confidence away from Dubai and, given that Ryan (Ratcliffe), Joe (Osborne) and I have raced together a few times now, it will be an advantage knowing each driver’s strengths and weaknesses.
“I raced in the 2015 12H Italy-Mugello with Optimum Motorsport’s Ginetta GT4 car and we took the SP3 class victory. It’s certainly a circuit I enjoy as it’s quite technical, and I think it will suit the Audi very well. We are all hopeful of a solid result.”
Osborne said: I think we showed we can mix it with the established big teams and that, if everything goes smoothly, we can be at the front. Flick (Haigh) and Ryan (Ratcliffe) are both much more settled in the Audi after their strong runs in Dubai, so they can focus on squeezing out the last few tenths at Mugello. Ryan was our number one choice for the race. I've never been to Mugello, but I have seen quite a lot of racing there. It looks great – fast and flowing with some technical parts, so it’s going to be a fun Italian adventure!”