Ollie Wilkinson endured a weekend to forget as he continued his Intelligent Money British GT Championship Silver Cup campaign around the Brands Hatch Grand Prix circuit this weekend, yet managed to protect his point-scoring record in every race so far this season.
Despite the #96 Optimum Motorsport McLaren 720S GT3 running as high as seventh during the two-hour endurance race around the iconic Kent circuit, a rare drive-through penalty in the final 15 minutes dropped Ollie just outside of the top ten.
However, with 1.5x points up for grabs, he and team-mate Lewis Proctor still picked up points for seventh in class, adding to the pair of second-place Silver Cup finishes and top five result scored in the previous four races.
Although the pair showed promising pace in official practice, a tricky qualifying session left the Y.Co – The Yacht Company McLaren to start ninth overall, sixth in class for the third round championship battle.
Overnight tweaks proved positive in the Sunday morning warm-up and the team were hopeful of making up some ground in the race, even though overtaking around the Kent track was notoriously difficult.
Proctor got a good start for the two-hour race come Sunday afternoon to hold ninth as he became embroiled in the multi-car fight for sixth. Although moving up to seventh as others had their issues, it proved impossible to make further progress ahead of the first safety car period which fell on the cusp of the pitstop window.
The Optimum outfit took the opportunity to pit under the full course yellow, along with the rest of the GT3 field, and Wilkinson joined the fray just as green flag racing resumed. But the McLaren Professional Driver’s stint was soon interrupted by a second, more lengthy, safety car period. A drive-through penalty then dropped the car out of the top 10, leaving Wilkinson to salvage a few valuable points for seventh in class*.
“This has been a difficult weekend from the start. We didn’t have any major issues, but equally nothing seemed to go our way,” said Ollie. “Qualifying left us on the back foot but we were still hopeful we could regain some ground and make the 1.5 points multiplier count.
“Lewis had a pretty good stint but couldn’t find a way past the Lamborghini, and then we lost time to them just after the stops. I had a gaggle of GT4 cars between me and the #18 car during the second safety car, I was keen to clear them and get on with it at the restart, but was judged to have passed the first of those before the Safety Car start line. That’s racing, we’ll put this one behind us, regroup and come back stronger, firstly for GT World Challenge Europe Endurance Cup at the Nürburgring next weekend, and then back to British GT at Donington Park later next month.”
*Ollie and Lewis were promoted to 10th overall, sixth in Silver Cup following post-race judicials.
Photo credit: Gary Parravani