Ollie Wilkinson heads into the Silverstone 500 and flagship round of the Intelligent Money British GT Championship, on 7-8 November, hoping to sign off his UK season with a return to the outright podium in the Optimum Motorsport McLaren 720S GT3.
Wilkinson and team-mate Lewis Proctor made their second visit to the overall rostrum in race one of the penultimate season battles at Snetterton last month. Finishing third, Wilkinson was robbed of sealing another second-place finish by just 0.08 seconds, yet secured the duo’s first podium since the opening rounds of the season at Oulton Park in August.
The McLaren Professional Driver also goes into the British GT season finale buoyed by the unrivalled experience gained in contesting his first Total 24 Hours of Spa two weeks prior, where Wilkinson claimed the fastest lap for the car – the sole McLaren of the 56-car field. Although the team’s event debut ended in disappointment with retirement after nine hours, due to damage unavoidably sustained in the first few laps, it created invaluable experience and data to carry forward to the final rounds of 2020.
Although the Silverstone 500 will be Ollie’s first race outing in a McLaren at the home of the British Formula 1 Grand Prix, the 24 year-old is no stranger to success at the Northamptonshire circuit, having recorded International GT Open Pro-Am class victory there two seasons ago in the Audi R8 LMS. His 2019 Silverstone 500 race debut alongside Bradley Ellis in the Aston Martin Vantage also produced a storming drive from the back of the GT3 grid to claim Silver Cup class victory, finishing fourth overall.
The 2020 iteration promises to boast the biggest field of the year for the three-hour endurance – the second 180-minute encounter of the year. In the first at Donington Park back in September, Wilkinson led the majority of the second hour of racing, eventually finishing fifth overall after a bold pit stop strategy didn’t quite pay off.
With another 1.5x points on offer at Silverstone, Wilkinson will be aiming to put in one last push to finish his second year in British GT on a high. Although defending his 2019 Silver Cup crown is no longer an option, Wilkinson and Proctor still have an outside shot at finishing in the class top three.
“It was great to return to the outright British GT podium for the second time this season at Snetterton, it shows the progress we’ve made in our first year with McLaren, and with Lewis and I as a driver pairing,” says Ollie. “Silverstone is among my favourite tracks and we ran well there last year. It would be really satisfying to finish off the season with another podium in the Silverstone 500.”
Qualifying for the 2020 British GT season finale takes place at 15:00hrs on Saturday, 7 November, followed by the three-hour Silverstone 500 from 12:50hrs on Sunday. Due to Covid-19 restrictions, no spectators may attend but fans can follow all the action via British GT’s live stream across its website, YouTube and social media channels.
Photo credit: Gary Parravani