Further Pro-Am podium but late-race scuffle leaves Optimum Motorsport disappointed
The opening round of the International GT Open race weekend at the Red Bull Ring brought Optimum Motorsport a further Pro-Am podium position, but this streak came to an end Sunday afternoon (13 September) at the home of the Austrian Grand Prix. In a race that promised a great, another strong result looked to be on the cards until the closing stages.
Following well-deserved third and fourth places in the Pro-Am class on Saturday, late-race contact and a subsequent safety car period on Sunday following a tremendous battle for fifth, meant that the British-based team had to settle for seventh position overall, fourth in class.
Due to success penalties – courtesy of the previous race weekend at Paul Ricard - the team opted to switch the strategy this weekend. Traditionally, the Pro drivers of Joe Osborne and Ollie Millroy qualify and start the first race, with the Am drivers repeating the process for race two.
This weekend in Austria, the #72 side of the garage switched it around with Nick Moss qualifying a superb eighth overall for Saturday’s race. Ollie was left disappointed in the sister #7 as his qualifying runs were both interrupted by two red flag periods. He still managed fifth on the grid however.
The opening race saw diverging strategies but ultimately, the #72 of Nick and Joe finished just ahead of Ollie and Brendan Iribe. The 70-minute race saw battles throughout with Ollie running fourth on track for much his stint, second in class.
Unfortunately, the timing of the sole safety car saw him lose the hard-earned margin that he had managed to build up, making it especially tough on Brendan in the second portion of the event. The American racer pushed hard, but ultimately had to give way to the charging Joe, who had moved through the field following a difficult first lap from Nick.
Having finished third and fourth in class, expectations were high for Sunday’s race. Again, the differing strategies saw the teammates close up at the end of the race, but ultimately, Ollie was denied an opportunity to make further gains as he battled for sixth position with Sam de Haan in the closing stages.
Following the contact, for which the RAM Racing driver was given a penalty, Nick was under pressure from the Pro drivers behind with just one lap of racing to complete, ultimately finishing in seventh place overall and bringing an end to his consecutive streak of Pro-Am podium positions.
The team now head to Spa-Francorchamps to test ahead of the Belgian round. The next GT Open race takes place at Monza and is expected to suit the McLaren 720S GT3 package.