Ollie Wilkinson has his eyes set on a first outright British GT Championship victory as he heads to his favourite circuit of the year – the legendary Spa-Francorchamps – keen to bounce back from a difficult last round.
The 23-year-old from Yorkshire heads to Belgium fresh from taking his maiden career outright win in the 200th race of the International GT Open, sealing the first victory in the series for the new generation Aston Martin V8 Vantage GT3 with Optimum Motorsport.
Ollie will rejoin the team to share the Aston Martin with former British GT champion Bradley Ellis for the two-hour British GT event around the Belgian Grand Prix Circuit.
Wilkinson has form at Spa, having secured his breakthrough class win in the International GT Open championship at the circuit last year, in what was only his second season of racing. That sort of result would be a timely boost to Wilkinson and Ellis’s outright British GT Championship hopes, after a freak refuelling fire put them out of the last round at Donington Park when they were firmly in the hunt for a second outright podium finish of the year.
Currently, Wilkinson and Ellis sit fourth in the overall championship standings, but are still within striking distance of the summit with just three races remaining. The duo also lead the Silver Cup, courtesy of their four class wins from six races so far this season.
Looking ahead to the seventh race of the British GT season, Wilkinson says: “I’m really looking forward to British GT’s round at Spa. It’s just a phenomenal circuit and definitely my favourite. I think every driver dreams of standing on the top step there, and I’ve been lucky enough to experience that from my GT Open Pro-Am win last year. Our first outright GT Open victory last weekend has given us all a massive boost and to be able to repeat that performance for British GT at Spa would be something special!
“I have to say a huge thank you to the Optimum Motorsport team. It’s been a top effort from them to get the Vantage repaired after the fire damage at Donington. That race was very difficult, but we have to put it behind us and move on and hopes are really high for Spa.
“I feel that the car, Brad and I as a package are very suited to Spa and I think we can have a strong weekend. I’ve never raced the Aston at the track, I won with Audi last year, but I don’t think it will take too long to adapt. We’re fourth in the points, and there’s still three races to go, so a win this weekend would be a huge boost for us in the championship.”
Team-mate Bradley Ellis adds: “I can’t wait to get back to driving at one of the world’s most iconic race tracks in an amazing car. We’ve got a lot to make up for after Donington so we’d like some luck and a big points haul, please! It’s been a long time since we tested at Spa but I’ve no doubt we can quickly get up to speed and we should be looking strong. We’re always in contention for an outright podium and want to keep notching up wins in the Silver Cup, we just need to keep everything perfectly clean to do that.”
British GT Championship qualifying from Spa-Francorchamps is scheduled to begin on Saturday, July 20 at 15:10 local time, before the two-hour race starts at 12:30 local time on Sunday. The race will be streamed live via the championship’s official website. Live timing will be available via tsl-timing.com.
Photo credit: Gary Parravani