Season's promise and potential shown in GT5 Challenge at Silverstone
The third round in the Ginetta GT5 Challenge took place at the iconic Silverstone Circuit. Over the course of three races through out the weekend, Optimum would experience a number of superb results, proving that the drivers have pace, and showing the potential for the subsequent championship rounds.
Qualifying took place early on Saturday morning with the #76 car of Nick Firth placing top amongst his teammates in P7, and even beating his own expectations for the session. Will Moore in #13 wasn’t far behind with a solid P10. The #63, driven by Finley Ractliffe, qualified in P15 and Andrew Marshall in the #27, driving for the first time this year, put his car into P22.
#13 MOORE - P10 | #27 MARSHALL - P22 | #63 RACTLIFFE - P15 | #76 FIRTH - P7
With the threat of rain looming, the first race of the weekend got underway Saturday afternoon. A tough start, including a spin for Moore, saw all four drivers lose positions after the first lap. Through sheer determination and skill however, each of the drivers valiantly fought to defend and fight for positions throughout the 15-minute race.
Ractliffe was especially pleased with the result; “It went really well. Obviously I had a bad start and lost a few places, but came back and was picking them off one by one. I got two in one go at one point. I even managed to get fastest lap in the team by a tenth. I’m starting the next race from near the back, but having the practice of moving through the field will help.”
#13 MOORE - P15 | #27 MARSHALL - P26 | #63 RACTLIFFE - P16 | #76 FIRTH - P10
Consistency was key for Firth this weekend with race 2 heralding similar results to the previous race. A 'lights-to-flag' P8 finish was superb in only his second race weekend and added to a collection of top ten finishes in his debut season.
Ractliffe also experienced a similar race to the previous one, fighting his way up to P12 from P21 and again showing he has the pace. Unfortunately a penalty for exceeding track limits meant he finished the race P20.
For Marshall, gaining experience in the car was his main goal for the weekend; a P21 result was something to be pleased with. A first lap disappointment for Moore however meant he was forced to retire.
#13 MOORE - DNF | #27 MARSHALL - P21 | #63 RACTLIFFE - P20 | #76 FIRTH - P8
Due to Moore’s bad luck in the previous race, he started at the back end of the grid in P27. After the first lap, he had already managed to jump a number of cars, putting himself into P15. A steady race from there meant his final classification was P14, a staggering 13 places ahead of where he started.
The final race at Silverstone was another great result for Ractliffe. After starting in P20 he was able to fight his way into the top ten and finish up P9, further solidifying his racing ability.
While it wasn’t the best of the three races for Firth, a P11 finish after a couple of spins, rounded off a weekend of commendable results.Marshall also ended his weekend on a positive note in P20, after gaining valuable experience on track and consistently improving over the course of the three races.
#13 MOORE - P14 | #27 MARSHALL - P20 | #63 RACTLIFFE - P9 | #76 FIRTH - P11
Shaun Goff - Team Principal
"The weekend as a whole was a good one! Having our drivers exceeding expectations is great, but now their expectations are set higher for the next round. It is a very competitive championship this year, as last years runner-up came back to struggle to get into the top 5. We will be looking to get a couple of tests in at Snetterton to really hit the ground running come qualifying in 3 weeks time."
Andrew Marshall #27
“I’ve been making steady progress throughout the weekend. It’s a learning curve; I’ve only been in a few races last season. I think it was gradual improvement and that’s a positive I can take away.”
Finley Ractliffe #63
“I started the weekend on old tyres from Rockingham. I was setting some good lap times but was really looking forward to getting on some new rubber and going a lot quicker. I struggled in qualifying and only managed qualify in P15. For the second race I was down in P23 as I wasn’t able to get a clear lap. The first race was good, as was the second race. I was filtering through the pack. I know I’ve got the pace. At the end of the race I realized I had a 30 second penalty, which was rather frustrating. This meant for race 3 I started P20. It was similar to the previous race and was a great result with P9!”
Nick Firth #76
“The weekend as a whole went really well. If you spoke to me 2 months ago and said I’d be consistently top 10 in my debut season, I wouldn’t have believed it. However to qualify 7th with a really good time, but not be able to do that time consistently in the race was really frustrating. I didn’t really get the setup where it needed to be, which made the car go off throughout the race. I was pleased with the results for race 1 and 2, but race 3 I had a couple of spins on the last lap and threw away all of my hard work. Overall I think it’s been a successful weekend. It’s only my second race so being around the top 10 is pretty good.”