Optimum return to British GT and Donington Park aiming for further gains and valuable points
Optimum Motorsport continues its busy GT3 season this coming weekend with a second visit to Donington Park for round six of the Intelligent Money British GT Championship. This round features a three-hour endurance race, rather than two 60-minute races seen last time out at the circuit.
So far this year, the Silver-Silver pairing of Ollie Wilkinson and Lewis Proctor have shown great pace in the #96 McLaren 720S GT3, as underlined at Oulton Park where a strong qualifying position yielded a good result for the team.
Qualifying pace, however, remains the Achilles' heel, especially in recent races with such an incredibly tight GT3 field. A few tenths of a second in qualifying makes a huge difference, both in the start position and options for strategy thereon in. Lewis was more than happy with the handling of the McLaren in race two last time out at Donington and believes that this will translate into an especially competitive race on Sunday afternoon.
Having secured 75-points over five rounds, the two drivers are fifth in the Silver Cup standings and with 37.5 on the table for this Sunday’s three-hour race, will be pushing to secure a points haul to maintain their title challenge. Practice gets underway on Saturday morning with qualifying in the afternoon. The race itself starts Sunday at 12.45 BST.
Lewis Proctor, McLaren Academy Driver, #96 Optimum Motorsport McLaren 720S GT3
This is, of course, your first season at GT3 level, what has been the highlight of the year to date?
“Definitely the pole position for me at Oulton Park, that was massive for me in terms of confidence heading into my first season of GT3 racing. Leading through my first stint was also awesome, but my first pole is definitely the highlight.”
The competition in British GT is at a high level. Which area of your driving and preparation have you had to focus your attention on most?
“I am learning so much this year; a steep learning curve in a highly competitive racing environment and it’s good that we have some positive momentum with the car returning to Donington. The downforce is a big step forward compared to the GT4 McLaren I drove last year and in some ways it is almost easier to drive as the window of setup is wider and the car feels much more like a proper race car than the GT4. The McLaren 720S is an easy car to get on with, it’s quicker and much more ‘pointy’ with obviously a lot more grip to exploit to deliver a decent lap time.”
It is the second visit of the season to Donington Park, this time with a three-hour Enduro race. In which area do you feel you can make gains second time around?
“We made some setup changes ahead of the second race at Donington and that really transformed the car, especially during the dry periods of that race. I would like to car to feel exactly as it did in my second stint. I was able to use the kerbs without upsetting the car and that made us much more competitive coming out of the slower turns and therefore quicker on the straights. If it feels as good as it did in race two, I’ll be very happy.”
Does a three-hour race provide more options in terms of gaining track position through strategy?
“Qualifying will be key as ever, and we’ll be pushing to our maximum to get exploit the maximum potential of the car. The race in terms of strategy is a bit of a moving target, with a multitude of factors we need to consider. It will be my longest GT3 race to date, and should we make gains in qualifying, I’m confident that we have a good race car to secure a good result.”