Three Aston Martin's to compete in GT Open at Silverstone

Tuesday, September 03, 2019

As you may have seen from social media is that Optimum Motorsport have today announced a two car line up for this weekends fifth round of the international GT Open Series from Silverstone.

For the Shaun Goff's Wakefield based team that means the return of newly appointed BRDC Rising Star driver Ollie Wilkinson who will be joined again by Aston Martin Racing factory driver Darren Turner aboard their #96 AMR Vantage GT3 together with an unexpected duo from the team who will race in the supporting GT Open Cup races.

Not to be outdone, there will actually be two debuting examples of both recent iterations of AMR Vantage GT4 as Connor O'Brien pairs up with Charlie Eastwood in his #35 AMR Vantage that O'Brien uses in the British GT Championship as well as 2018 UK based GT Cup Champions Chris Murphy and Adam Hatfield aboard their older, normally aspirated V8.

At the last round of the GT Open Series before the summer break, Wilkinson was joined by AMR factory driver Jonny Adam for the two races from the Red Bull Ring in mid June where the pair secured outright victory in the series 200th race having taken the brave step of moving up from Pro-Am into the ultra competitive Pro class earlier in the year.

That is not the only podium that Wilkinson has enjoyed this year in the series with an AMR factory driver alongside as he and Turner also secured a P3 finish in race two at Hockenheim earlier in the season.

Back to the two GT4 crews, this race will actually be Eastwood's first ever GT4 racing experience so hopefully the young O'Brien will be able to teach his elder Irishman and AMR Driver Academy coach a thing or two albeit both Eastwood (and Turner) should have a decent racing knowledge of the circuit having raced at Silverstone in eta World Endurance Championship only last week where Eastwood secured GTE Am Class pole position and Turner GTE Am Class podium at the end for their respective crews.

For the Whitedbridge AMR duo of Murphy and Hadfield, this will be the first time that they will have raced together having secured both the GTH class and overall win in last years GT Cup Championship although Hadfield is still usually on hand within the team as part of his coaching duties with them this season.

“Main expectation is to have fun and compete in a series completely the ones that different from the ones we are used to”, explains Chris Murphy, who is also the team principal of the team, “We are based only a few kms from the track and it seemed a very nice opportunity. Adam, who is much younger than me, and I are both amateurs, we had a great season together last year winning the GT Cup but haven’t yet raced together this season.”

Having stepped up from Ginetta's last year O'Brien has shown some remarkable displays in his debut year within the British GT Championship in a car that he shares with Jack Butel but some bad luck on track and issues with the car off track have seen them languish lower in the Championship standings that they perhaps should be. For O'Brien, the experience of European GT4 racing will do him no harm whatsoever.

“I had a good run at Silverstone in British GT earlier in the year and enjoy the circuit, so I’m really looking forward to the event as a whole. I will be adapting to the Michelin tyres which will be interesting as they have very good life and performance. It is an excellent opportunity to work with Charlie – an all Irish pairing – as he is very experienced and has just completed his second WEC race at Silverstone so I’m really excited to get started" said O'Brien.

Certainly for the GT3 side of the Series, Silverstone will also see that start of their new Qualifying procedure where both drivers will be required to set a time in both sessions where their aggregate time will determine their starting position on the grid of Saturday and Sundays race.

If you have never been to a GT Open event you really are missing a trick as its the most friendly yet competitive European series that you can come across.

Photo credits - GT Open / Steve Jackman / GT Cup
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