Strong showing and crucial points haul at the Red Bull Ring for inception racing
Following a break in the summer schedule, it was a successful return to racing in the International GT Open for inception racing at the weekend, claiming a class one-two in the first race of the Red Bull weekend – third and fourth overall - as well as further points in Sunday’s round.
12 points from the two Red Bull Ring races extend their Pro-Am championship advantage from their nearest rivals Jens Moller and Marcus Paverud to 17 points. With just the Monza and Barcelona events remaining, the Pro-Am championship is very much on for the #7 pairing of Brendan Iribe and Ollie Millroy.
Friday was, ever, given over to three practice sessions, with the key 30-minute qualifying taking place on Saturday morning. Joe Osborne was right on it from the start, claiming the provisional pole position in the #72 McLaren 720S before making further gains late in the session to cement his position at the head of the field for the 70-minute race.
Joe went on to control the race from lights out at the front of the field, quickly setting the fastest lap of the race and establishing a two-second margin, one he would never relinquish. He handed over to the #72 McLaren to Nick at the end of his pit window in the lead, just as light rain started to fall.
The track became increasingly tricky, with Nick yielding the position at the front of the field, whilst retaining his class lead. Behind, Brendan had a solid stint and then Ollie was able to make gains in the slippery conditions to move up to second in class. As the conditions further deteriorated and with numerous drivers spinning off at turn three, the race was red flagged and the result declared.
Qualifying on Sunday saw Ollie Millroy briefly claim a front-row position, only for his quick lap to be deleted due to track limits and consigning him to sixth overall. This would prove pivotal in his race as he started mid-pack.
Nick meanwhile continued his impressive form, just six weeks after returning to competition having suffered back injuries at Spa. He was quicker than some of the Pro competition, and just a second off the pole position and 0.5s off the front row in ninth position, fifth in class. He, however, faced an additional ten seconds in the pits as a success penalty following Saturday’s class win.
There was some light rain in the air for the second race, but this time, it did not play any real role in the result. The early laps saw Ollie shadowing the #22 Audi of Adam Carroll but despite his best efforts was unable to execute the pass before he pitted on lap 23 of 39.
Brendan exited ninth overall and he was later able to pass the #22, now driven by Shaun Balfe, to secure eighth position, fourth in class. For Nick and Joe, the Sunday round was a tough one, ultimately finishing tenth overall, sixth in class but race one proved their combined winning pace.
The Italian round of the championship takes place 25-26 September ahead of the season finale in Spain next month.
“Brendan had a good, solid stint and we pitted him P4 in class, P8 overall. We had a five-second success penalty to serve and then I was able to make up a couple of positions and then it started to rain. We decided to stay out and the conditions deteriorated. The car is actually fun to drive in the wet and I thought there was a chance for us to win it, especially as I saw those ahead aquaplaning but then the red flags came out.
“Sunday was frustrating. I got stuck in traffic and did everything I could to get through, but Adam defended well. I had to take the medicine for losing my lap in qualifying and being out of position. P4 in Pro-Am and onto Monza!”
“It was great to get the pole and then the start was thankfully uneventful. I was able to quickly get into a rhythm. Then the second half of the race I watched through my fingers as the rain came down, but Nick did an amazing job until the red flag. A good result.”