A just reward for Optimum on GT Open return

Monday, July 15, 2019

It was a significant return by Optimum Motorsport to the International GT Open Series this weekend from the Red Bull Ring, Austria having taken the decision to skip the previous round of the season at Spa Francorchamps to consolidate their Championship efforts within the British GT Championship with the long distance travel being made more than worthwhile for the Wakefield based team.

Having had to fully refresh their #96 Aston Martin Racing V8 Vantage GT3 after their brief fuel line fire at the fourth round of the British GT Championship at Donington Park, the crew would arrive in Austria with an alternative AMR factory guiding hand and co driver than last in Jonny Adam.

Having a three times British GT Champion and Le Mans race winner in the form of Adam must have instilled the utmost of confidence into the still relatively inexperienced Wilkinson as pre race track times decreased significantly as the lap times were posted and as the team ventured into only their second race since stepping up to the higher Pro class.

With the Series running a two race, alternative starting driver format across the weekend it was the turn of Wilkinson to set the Qualifying time for Race 1 which he did with a P8 - just 0.612 seconds off pole ready for Saturday's 70 minute race.

With the twenty three other GT3 cars thundering uphill along the start staring to Turn 1 Wilkinson kept his car clear of any unnecessary bumping and bashing on the opening lap of the race to consolidate his P7 position overall (P4 in Pro) which was improved on still further when the #10 car ahead was given a drive through for a starting procedure violation. Despite continued pressure from the Manns Filter Mercedes AMG behind, Wilkinson pitted his car at the 30 minutes race distance from P6.

At the end of the 14 minute pit window, Adam would continue from the position Wilkinson left off in P6 and getting his head down soon arrived onto the tail of cars battling for third overall. Despite getting close to the car behind it soon became apparent that the #96 car didn't have the power nor grip to get around any of the cars ahead and by the flag Adam had settled for what they had with a P6.

Sunday' sixty minute Race 2 was a completely different bag with Adam having earlier Qualified the #96 car onto overall pole position with a time only just over one second faster than Wilkinson's time from Q1 yesterday. This was the 200th race for the Series and Adam had already stated that he had come for a podium and that would be his obvious target from the off.

Despite being pushed, and pushed hard by the #59 McLaren 720s on the opening lap Adam managed to hold track position on that opening lap before he was able to steadily improve the gap to the cars behind as the laps went by - 0.6 seconds on lap one to 1.8 seconds on lap six to 3.0 seconds by lap nine.

Staying out just beyond the halfway point, Adam would make his pitstop with a 6.3 second lead to the still chasing #59 McLaren but Wilkinson would have to concentrate on the road ahead rather than looking in his mirrors if he was to maintain that gap to the end some twenty five minutes away.

Tantalisingly, the gap between the #96 and #58 steadily dropped per lap - 6.3 - 5.1 - 2.6 seconds the timing screen was saying but at least by then the young man from Leeds had 'found his Mojo' to steadily maintain that gap as the final minutes passed by eventually crossing the line 1.3 seconds ahead to claim their first ever overall race win in the Series.

"Unbelievable" Wilkinson said having taken off his helmet in Parc Ferme " First win after 1.5 years of racing in the Series!" with an embrace with his father which proved just what that race was worth to the family.

What was nice was that with Optimum winning the 200th race in the Series at the Red Bull Ring, the duo was reminded that the Series 100th race winner was also an AMR Vantage GT3!

The team and drivers will now make the short distance across to Spa Francorchamps for the fifth round of the British GT Championship where of course they will now feature in opposing cars with Wilkinson rejoining BGT team mate Bradley Ellis and Adam joining back to Graham Davidson in their TF Sport prepared Vantage GT3.

Photo credits - GT Open

  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • StumbleUpon
  • Yahoo! Buzz
  • Technorati
  • Facebook
  • TwitThis
  • MySpace
  • LinkedIn
  • Live
  • Google
  • Reddit
  • Sphinn
  • Propeller
  • Slashdot
  • Netvibes