Ollie Wilkinson signed off an impressive International GT Open debut at Barcelona last weekend (28-29 October), teaming with Bradley Ellis to take a second-place Pro-Am podium in the Optimum Motorsport Audi R8 LMS barely a year on from starting his racing career.
The 21-year-old Yorkshireman joined the final International GT Open championship rounds off the back of an outstanding first season of competition, ranking third overall in the Ginetta GT5 Challenge. Despite heading into his international GT3 debut with minimal testing aboard the Audi R8 LMS, the first-time partnership of Wilkinson with driver coach Ellis proved a formidable pairing.
A former British GT and Radical SR3 European Champion, FIA GT, British GT4 and Dubai 24 Hours race winner, Ellis qualified seventh in class for the first of two races. Clean away, the 30-year-old ran as high as 13th overall before Wilkinson took to the track. A faultless drive ensured a top seven Pro-Am class finish for the Optimum Motorsport duo.
Race two on Sunday and it was Ollie’s turn to take the start from 15th on the grid. An awesome getaway saw Ollie slot into 13th place behind the #1 Lamborghini Huracan GT3 of Thomas Biagi (ITA), fifth in class. Once clear of the three-lap safety car period, Wilkinson continued to keep Biagi in his sights ahead of the pit stop window.
Picking up from where Wilkinson left off, Ellis re-joined 11th overall and soon closed in on Jordan Witt’s (GBR) Bentley GT3 ahead. With less than a second separating the two, they raced in tandem to climb the order before Ellis mounted a last lap pass to claim the Pro-Am class win. Although a post-race five second penalty for contact dropped Ellis back behind Witt, the Optimum Motorsport crew still claimed a highly commendable second place podium finish on their first driver pairing outing.
“To take a Pro-Am class podium on my GT3 debut, racing with Brad for the first time is brilliant,” said Wilkinson. “It was a tough but enjoyable first International GT Open event. It’s certainly given us the appetite for some more of the same and, who knows, we could be back for more next year!”
“What an amazing weekend! This result is all down to Ollie and a year of incredibly hard work,” said Ellis. “Ollie has been preparing for this step up to GT3 all year and he certainly held his own against some of the world’s best sportscar drivers. We only decided to compete here 14 days prior, so massive thanks to Optimum Motorsport to putting together a fantastic team.”
Photo credit: International GT Open www.gtopen.net