Dominant Optimum Motorsport seal first win of the season at 200th GT Open
Optimum Motorsport celebrated their first win of the year in the new Aston Martin Vantage at the Red Bull Ring over the weekend (13-14 July).
Reigning British GT champion, Jonny Adam, returned to the team for the weekend’s showing to partner Aston Martin academy driver, Ollie Wilkinson, in International GT Open’s 200th event.
The result secured Ollie’s first overall victory, as well as Aston Martin’s first win in the series with the new generation of Vantage. Having skipped the last round of GT Open in favour of British GTs Silverstone 500, the team returned to the championship for round four in Austria.
In a weekend that saw various celebrations, Ollie set a 1:28:823 to secure his series best qualifying result to line up in eighth place for Saturday's race. At the start, Ollie moved passed Martin Konrad in the #25 Mercedes to elevate into seventh place and tucked in behind the #3 BMW.
A penalty for the Fabrizio Crestani in the #10 Mercedes promoted Ollie up into sixth place. Unfortunately for the team, the car began to have issues with brakes and as a result, Ollie was unable to push to catch the leaders ahead. Despite the problem, he held onto sixth with amounting pressure late in the stint from Konrad before handing over the Aston to Jonny with 40 minutes left to run.
Jonny maintained sixth place overall as he returned to the circuit and with a succession of fastest laps, the Aston Martin factory driver caught the #14 Lamborghini and #17 McLaren and set his sights on a top five finish. However, the laps ticked down and time ran out before he could manage to progress.
The British pairing wrapped up the weekend’s first race in sixth place overall and fifth in class - despite the addition of a success penalty carried over from the #96's podium in Hockenheim.
Jonny stormed to pole position on Sunday in the #96 with a 1:27:895 less than one tenth ahead of the #59 McLaren with just one second covering the top 14.
As the start light turned green the Scotsman maintained the lead but had to defend off Henrique Chavez in the opening few corners. At the end of lap two however, the #96 had created a one-second gap to its nearest challengers.
Dominating the race, Jonny had increased the gap to second place to eight and a half seconds by the half-way point and shortly after the pit-window opened, the 34-year-old pitted to hand over the Aston to Ollie.
Ollie re-joined the landmark race in the lead with over a six second gap to a charging Andres Saravia in the #17 McLaren in second place. Despite cutting the #96s lead to under two seconds, the McLaren could not catch the Aston in time and Ollie crossed the line to secure his maiden overall victory and Optimum Motorsports first win of the year.
Shaun Goff, Optimum Motorsport Team Principal
“We’re so happy to get our first overall win, Ollie, Jonny and the team have all worked so hard on getting the car to where it needs to be, What a race to win... GT Opens 200th Race. We had to work on our race pace as race 1 was really hard for the drivers to deliver consistent lap times, We made some changes and the car was great in race 2. It’s was a really proud moment to share the top step with boys although a face full of champagne stings the eyes a little!”
“I gave it everything, every lap was flat out and the Aston Martin V8 Vantage was amazing to drive. Massive credit to Aston Martin for building such a beautiful piece of machinery. I’ve been with Optimum Motorsport since I started racing in 2017 and we’ve been on a massive journey together. This win is a huge boost to everyone involved in the team, particularly after all the hard work over the last three years and with the new car this season. To be surrounded by a team who cares so much about me and my career means an enormous amount, I’m very lucky to have such a fantastic group of people behind me. A massive thank you to everyone who has helped to get us to where we are today and helped me grow into the driver I’m becoming. Hopefully, this is just a sign of things to come.”
"It’s been a good weekend all round and Ollie just gets better and better. Despite the mounting pressure today, he never made a mistake and his pace was strong and consistent. Today was the best I’ve seen Ollie drive and the reward is huge for him and the Optimum Motorsport guys who have done such an excellent job in preparing the car. This was my first time racing in GT Open and I was shocked by how competitive this series is, so this was a really hard-fought win. Running as the solo Aston Martin highlights what a good job Ollie and the team are doing and, with this result, I can only see Ollie’s confidence and performance building and building from here."