Ollie Wilkinson heads into the penultimate British GT Championship round at Brands Hatch, Kent, aiming to continue the outstanding form that produced a dominant first outright race victory at Spa-Francorchamps, as he and Bradley Ellis lie third in the title fight with a shot at the coveted championship crown.
The 23-year-old is on a roll with Optimum Motorsport, the team he’s competed with since the start of his ambitious racing career just two seasons ago. Wilkinson and Ellis dominated the last British GT outing at Spa, turning their first pole position into a masterclass lights-to-flag victory in the Aston Martin V8 Vantage GT3.
That first-class performance promoted the pair to third in the outright title fight to lie just 18 points adrift of current leaders, Sam De Haan and Jonny Cocker, putting them in with a chance of clinching the championship honours with two rounds to go. Wilkinson and Ellis lead the Silver Cup with a tally of five class wins from seven races.
For Wilkinson, success at Spa came just seven days after the Yorkshireman seized his first overall International GT Open win on the series’ historic 200th outing at the Red Bull Ring, Austria. Can he carry his winning momentum on to Brands Hatch and make it three wins in a row in the two-hour British GT feature race?
Brands Hatch is already a notable venue for Wilkinson; it’s where he clinched his career first GT3 race wins by way of a hat-trick of pole-to-flag victories in a one-off outing in the GT Cup last year. For team-mate Ellis, who returned to his outright British GT winning ways for the first time in 11 years at Spa, Brands Hatch marks the home round for the Croydon born-and-bred former series champion.
Relishing the prospect of a return to the Kent track for the penultimate British GT outing of his debut season in the series, Wilkinson says: “It’s been an amazing couple of weeks and I head to Brands Hatch feeling confident of delivering some more good results. Myself, Brad and the team are working as a really strong unit, we’re getting on top of the car and stretching our performance.
“Brands Hatch is a great track but we’ve had limited running there as a team, so that’ll make things interesting. With the success penalty from our Spa win, we’re realistically looking at a podium. I’d forgotten about the championship fight after Snetterton and Donington Park, so it’s great to be back in that picture. Whilst not impossible, it would take a lot of luck to win that now. We’re just going to keep doing what we are doing, aim for another faultless run and let the results and points hopefully come.”
Team-mate Ellis adds: “The Brands Hatch GP circuit is one of the best in the UK and I love it. We haven’t had any testing time there in the Aston Martin V8 Vantage, but we should still be competitive. The success penalty will impact on our overall result but, as we know, anything can happen in British GT and we have to position ourselves close to the sharp end, ready to seize any opportunity. Ollie is on flying form and our confidence in the car keeps growing and growing. We’ll keep pushing ourselves and see what happens.”
Wilkinson and Ellis will have two hours of practice to get up to speed with the new Optimum-run car around the Brands Hatch Grand Prix circuit, ahead of British GT Championship qualifying at 15:05 on Saturday, August 3. The two-hour race is scheduled for 13:00 on Sunday, streamed live via the championship’s official website. Live timing will be available via tsl-timing.com.
Photo credit: Gary Parravani / Xynamic