April 15th 2016 was the date and that only could mean one thing, The British GT Championship was back for the 2016 season and this year the opener was at the iconic Brands Hatch in the garden of England’s county of Kent, as exciting as it was for all it didn’t go according to plan as Will Moore explains to us in our first race diary of the 2016 campaign.
Will was first to step into the car to begin the qualification period in changeable weather conditions.
“It was a disappointing first round to the season, definitely one to forget and move on!
In Saturday’s qualifying, my time was average at best. I got the best out of the car I could with it not handling right and the BOP massively against us!”
BOP is the Balance of Performance, it adjusts limits on horsepower, weight, engine management, and aerodynamics to prevent a single manufacturer from becoming dominant in the GT3 class.
“Ryan unfortunately had an off at Druids on his first flying lap which meant he took no further part in Quail 2!
Had he got a lap in I’m sure it would of been well up the field.”
At the end of qualifying the Optimum Motorport Audi R8 LMS sat in 12th spot and so focus was all on race day and improvements that could be made overnight, including some new parts that the team had to go back to their Yorkshire base to collect.
“Starting 12th on the grid for the first round is not where we wanted or expected to be but Ryan soon made good progress up the field handing it over to me at the pit stop in 6th under code 80 full course yellows due to a huge crash involving 3 cars.
Once the incident had been cleared we were back to race speed, with the car still not handling well, she was very nervous in high speed corners and mid corner over steer I battled on only to push too hard into Paddock Hill and found myself facing the wrong way stuck in the gravel and out of the race!”
“A tough weekend for everyone involved but the Optimum Motorsport team did a sterling job as always.
Setup work and data needs to be done before Rockingham but I have no doubt we will be competitive there.
With 45kg added to our car because Ryan and I are silver-silver pairing, the BOP is heavily against us with Aston Martin and Bentley driving past us in a straight line like we are a GT4 car so I feel there needs to be some changes to make things fairer”
A pleasant surprise came post race when it was announced that Optimum Motorsport had won the inaugural Professional Motorsport World Expo Team of the Weekend Award.
The prize is offered to an outfit that has gone above and beyond or produced a stand-out act at each 2016 British GT event. This, amongst other considerations, might include overcoming a particularly difficult technical issue, executing an innovative race strategy to perfection or achieving an unexpected result in the face of adversity.
British GT Championship Manager Benjamin Franassovici said “There were a number of candidates for this weekend’s award but, in the end, we felt Optimum’s persistence and never-say-die attitude gave them the edge. The Audi ran strongly during Sunday’s race and I’ve no doubt that same spirit will help the team move further forwards at the coming rounds.”
So we now look forward to April 30th and onto Rockingham we go!
© Sandra Hebbourn 26/04/16
© All images courtesy of Jakob Ebrey