Two days of mixed results racing for Optimum at GT Open

Monday, September 09, 2019

Optimum Motorsport saw out the second day of the International GT Open's return to the Silverstone Circuit yesterday with another mixed bag of results for their Aston Martin Racing V8 Vantage GT3 and GT4 entries.

For the full season GT Open entry from Ollie Wilkinson (joined again this weekend by AMR factory driver Darren Turner) better things were being hoped for on Sunday after all their hard work on Saturday came abruptly to nothing half way around the opening lap in the feature race.

Both drivers again having set their aggregated Qualifying time earlier in the day (new series rules that took affect from Silverstone) would have their #96 AMR Vantage start the shorter second race from P6 on the grid and with Turner this time behind the wheel.

With mostly the Pro drivers taking the start in the top flight classes the opening laps were at least a little more controlled and thankfully had none of the accident and incident of race one that claimed at least four cars. With a warmer track temperature on Sunday, suitable tyre management was again required and for a time Turner enjoyed a 'little scrap' with Tom Onslow-Cole aboard his SPS Mercedes before that Englishman had a episode on track of his own!

The Lamborghini's and McLaren's ahead were too fast for Turner to catch with the set up that he had beneath him and for a large portion of his stint had to content himself with P6. That did change as those ahead pitted and the Optimum team ran Turner for a few additional laps hoping that their reduced minimum pit stop time would help the younger Wilkinson. It did until (exiting pit lane as P5) before another small error at Maggots/Chapel saw him run wide to lose a position down to P6.

As the laps ticked away that seemed that that was that as far as the race went but incredibly on the last lap the third and forth placed cars suddenly lost all pace as their tyres went away and Wilkinson suddenly came across the Lamborghini and McLaren floundering going into the loop. Predatory like, Wilkinson went for the move that would have elevated him to P3 with just a few hundred metres to go - well he would have had it not been for the Mercedes of Miguel Ramos who saw a similar gap and went for it spinning around the McLaren and Wilksinson's AMR in the process.

The ten second post race penalty awarded to Ramos was weak considering the race results of two other cars had been compromised and both finished much more than ten seconds behind. The #96 AMR would end the day P7.

Also joining them at the circuit for a one off appearance at the series supporting GT Open Cup Series was of course the teams #35 AMR Vantage GT4 of Connor O'Brien and Charlie Eastwood. Having come so close in race one where they nearly won the race outright there were high hopes of something similar on Sunday.

With O'Brien having Qualified P6 and taking the start this time all he had to do was bide his time, stay out of trouble and race like he did on Saturday. That as all going to plan until he was unceremoniously pushed off the track at Luffield (but was able to rejoin without losing a position) but the antics between him and the offending McLaren 570s driver would earn them both a five second time penalty for causing a collision and retaliating

Pitting at the halfway mark from P7 it didn't take the TF Sport WEC and Blancpain driver (and AMR Driver Academy Coach) Eastwood too long to start setting purple sectors as he went about picking off those ahead one by one. The first couple of cars were relatively easy until he came to the rear of the fourth placed Lamborghini - whatever he tried, where ever he went he simple couldn't get the nose of the new Vantage GT4 inside that of the Italian car. As the laps ticked by even another personal best wasn't enough to proceed the march of the car and the duo had to 'settle' for P5 overall but P2 in Pro-Am.

With the final round of the British GT Championship coming up this weekend from Donington Park we can bet that O'Brien will still be wearing his double podium success smile by the time we get to the circuit at the weekend. Well done to them!

Photo credits - GT Open / Optimum
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