Tricky conditions and a big turn-around for Optimum Motorsport at Donington Park
Rounds three and four of the Intelligent Money British GT Championship took part this weekend (August 15-16) at Donington Park, the first of two-visits scheduled at the circuit in 2020. It proved to be another strong event overall or the Optimum Motorsport #96 Silver-Silver pairing of Ollie Wilkinson and Lewis Proctor, with fifth and second positions, plus a solid 33 points on the board.
Qualifying is always a key aspect of the race weekend, but even with Ollie’s excellent second position in the first ten-minute session and Lewis being just two-tenths off on his run in Q2, this resulted in starting positions of eighth and 13th overall, sixth in class for both rounds.
Race day dawned damp and the drizzle persisted throughout the day, meaning two tricky events ahead. The two-hour race saw the team opt to run a long first stint for Lewis, getting him into clear air and at the front of the field as others pitted. Ollie took over with over 70-minutes of the race complete and following light contact into the Melbourne Hairpin, which bent the left-rear tow link, brought the #96 entry home in ninth position, fifth in the Silver Cup class.
The shorter one-hour round four saw Ollie line up in 13th, and with the circuit drying somewhat, the team made the decision to start on slicks, an advantage that soon became apparent. After some initial laps, Ollie was able to get some heat into the Pirelli rubber and was soon on the move. Making great progress, Ollie passed the #10 McLaren of Jack Mitchell to take the Silver Cup lead – a battle that would run to the chequered flag.
Ollie set his best lap just before pitting at mid-distance, moving fifth overall and handing over to Lewis. The battle recommenced with the #10 – now driven by Jordan Witt – taking the position and with it fourth place and P1 in the Silver Cup. Lewis soon regained the position, but in the closing minutes of the one-hour race, the favour was returned, and the team were forced to settle for the fourth position on track and second in Silver Cup.
P4 position in the Silver Cup, the team are back racing in the British GT Championship in two weeks’ time at Brands Hatch but prior to that, they head to Paul Ricard for the second International GT Open meeting of the season next weekend.
“The start was tricky, starting where we were and it was a difficult decision to decide on the tyre choice, but we went with the slicks. The decision really paid off for us and it made my job a little easier to cut through the pack. The car was unbelievable; we came back strong at the end of the weekend, so we carry that all momentum onto the next race at Brands Hatch.”
“It ended well for us. I wasn’t very happy with my performance in qualifying but, as a team, we worked really hard to improve every element and the strategy call was spot on. To get that track performance gain over the others was very welcome, so credit to the team, we were the relaxed calm ones who made that choice early on and avoided some of the panic that the others had. My stint was good, but the drizzle intensified near the end and it made difficult, tiptoeing around and yes, it could have been third but a small mistake on my part and the #10 came through. We’re really happy though and Ollie did a mega job. On to Brands Hatch.”
Shaun Goff, Optimum Motorsport Team Principal
“Some weekends we have to maximise the points where we can and in race two today, we certainly did that. After the first race we looked at the wet setup in the car and staring down the field we opted to go with the slick tyres and then both Ollie and Lewis then put in strong stints to move us up through the field. It was a shame to just miss out on the overall podium, but we take the valuable points and in the title race.”