Aspiring racing driver, Oliver (Ollie) Wilkinson moves one step closer to making his motorsport dream come true this month, as he embarks on his first season competing in the Protyre Motorsport Ginetta GT5 Challenge with Optimum Motorsport.
The 20-year-old from Leeds will commence his maiden motorsport championship campaign at Oulton Park on Easter Monday, 17th April. Completely new to racing, he heads to the Cheshire circuit just eight months after first turning laps in a Ginetta G40 and with just one race event under his belt.
Joining the final round of the 2016 Ginetta GT5 Challenge at Donington Park last September, Ollie impressed with fifth fastest in his first ever qualifying session in challenging wet conditions. Wilkinson went on to record the second fastest lap in race one, then recovered from a DNF to charge from 40th to 14th in race two, while another superb drive from 14th to 9th in race three further underlined his untapped potential.
With just a handful of testing and track days conducted since then, Ollie appreciates the mighty task ahead. Of taming the 1800cc, 160bhp Ginetta G40 and learning each of the top UK circuits while honing racecraft skills only gained through the fierce level of competition the Ginetta GT5 Challenge has to offer.
Joining the reigning British GT4 Championship outfit, Optimum Motorsport, Ollie will test his mettle amongst a 27-strong grid of vastly more experienced drivers. Widely regarded as the breeding ground for future professional and aspiring GT racers, the Ginetta GT5 Challenge supports five rounds of the prestigious British GT Championship, plus two events on the British Touring Car Championship support bill.
Ollie may face a steep learning curve in the ultra-competitive single-make championship but the young Yorkshireman’s debut season aims are clear. To lay the foundations on which to build his racing pedigree before climbing up the sportscar ranks, with the ambition of one day driving the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
“I’ve dreamt of being a racing driver since I was young and now that dream is about to come true,” said Ollie. “I’m really looking forward to seeing what racing is all about and learn the ropes in my rookie year.
“It’s fitting that my campaign starts at Oulton Park. It’s my home circuit on the British GT calendar and where I first drove a proper race car, a Ginetta G40, last summer. I love the circuit, it’s already a firm favourite, and I can’t wait to get out on track and see how I shape up and slot in against the rest of the field.
“I have no background in motorsport but I’ve been working hard all winter to make sure I’m ready. This will obviously be my foundation year so I’ll be taking things as they come and keeping an open mind and with each event I’ll grow in confidence and understanding to carry through to the next round. My biggest challenge will be to learn the circuits and develop my racecraft at the same time. I welcome the massive learning curve ahead as I’ll gain more experience with every lap.”
The Ginetta GT5 Challenge action at Oulton Park on Monday 17th April kicks off with qualifying at 08:30, followed by three 20-minute races at 10:30, 13:35 and 17:55. For further event and ticket information visit www.oultonpark.co.uk
Photo credit: Jakob_Ebrey