Wilkinson wraps up GT Open 2019 with another podium

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Seven rounds fourteen races later, BRDC Rising Star and British GT GT3 Silver Cup Champion Ollie Wilkinson rounded off his 2019 European racing commitments with another podium at the season finale at Monza this weekend.

Having started the season at Paul Ricard in April and then competing in the Pro-Am Class with his #96 Aston Martin Racing V8 Vantage GT3 and co-driver Bradley Ellis, the twenty three year secured his first podium finish of the new season with a P2 Class finish in race 2 at that event.

Under the guidance of others, the #96 car took the significant step up in class to compete within the full Pro class with Aston Martin Racing factory driver Darren Turner being recruited to be the Aston Martin Racing Drivers Academy participant's new co-driver.

Having to skip round round three at Spa Francorchamps due to his (then) ongoing British GT Championship title possibilities, a co-driver change going at the Red Bull Ring, Austria lead to Wilkinson and the deputising Jonny Adam securing his first outright win in the Series.

A dreadful weekend at his home event at Silverstone and then technical issues next time out in Barcelona, it was something of a phycological milestone for the #96 crew to end the season on a high at the last two races of the season in Italy.

With Turner Qualifying P7 for race 1 on Saturday, the race appeared (from the outside at least) to be somewhat processional one as the #96 car struggled to get past the #17 Teo Martin McLaren 720s. Turner has already acknowledged during Qualifying that the 720s was the fastest car on the long straights and it was hard for the new Vantage GT3 to keep up with that.

Their only option then was strategy and with running Turner to the maximum permitted time in the hope of overlapping the #17 car during the pitstop cycle - and that is exactly what they did. All over the back of the McLaren in the corners but dropping away slightly on the straights, the Vantage was clearly the stronger overall package between the #96 and the #17 cars and by the time Wilkinson exited pit lane after their shorter minimum time stop he was in front of the #17.

With an eight second lead and with just seventeen minutes to get, Wilkinson kept his eyes firmly fixed on making his braking points and corner apexes whilst making his car as wide as legally possible to see off the attention of the McLaren behind to finally make the chequered flag in third position overall.

Another great result for the drivers and team to secure their third podium finish of the season - the second of the year in Pro!!

Sundays final race of the season was (if we are brutally honest) was something of a quiet one for the team. With Wilkinson having Qualified P8 earlier in the day, he drove a very consistent race, maintaining his starting position for most of his opening thirty minute stint - only losing out when he compromised his own exit speed on a corner at the far side of the circuit to drop him back to P9 by the time of his stop.

Despite some progressively faster laps being entered by Turner, the #96 car simply didn't have the legs of the likes of the McLaren 720s to make any inroads into the gaps to the cars ahead to eventually finish the race and the season down in P8.

That aside, 2019 has been another great year for Wilkinson racing with Shaun Goff's Optimum Motorsport team with their new AMR Vantage GT3 since stepping up from last years Audi R8. We will have to wait to see what 2020 will bring this young man!

Photo credits - GT Open

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