It was a tough weekend for Optimum Motorsport in Belgium, with high hopes being dashed early on with mechanical issues and a crash at the infamous ‘Eau Rouge’ during practice. While the team pulled together to have the car fixed for qualifying, the remainder of the weekend was plagued with continuing issues that resulted from the crash.
PRACTICE/QUALIFYINGThroughout the first practice session, strong times were set by the #41 drivers seeing them sit near to the top of the GT4 pack. However, with 15 minutes remaining, Edwards unfortunately lost the car at turn 9 causing the session to end under red flags.
The second practice session showed that both Draper and Edwards had the pace, but a power steering issue caused Edwards to take a slightly different line through Eau Rouge, where a bump and lift off sent her into oversteer and caused a huge impact with the barriers; whilst Edwards was unharmed, the car was seriously damaged. Superb teamwork meant the car was, for the most part, repaired for qualifying, however a few issues remained as a result of the impact.Edwards was first to qualify the car, managing to place the car in P8 for race 1 after the session was ended prematurely due to a red flag. A tough qualifying for Draper saw him qualify for Race 2 in P10.
QUALIFYING RESULT: EDWARDS [RACE 1] - P8 [P33 OVERALL] DRAPER [RACE 2] - P10 [P35 OVERALL]
RACE 1Mixed weather conditions at the start of the race led to teams making last minute decisions on tyre choice; whilst some used wets, others made the choice to use slick tyres. The #41 car initially went out on wets, which proved to be the wrong decision, forcing them to pit almost straight away.Although the team worked quickly to make the neccessary tyre change, this late decision resulted in them dropping half a lap down from the rest of the pack. Whilst both Edwards and Draper pushed for the duration of the race, the initial set back saw them having to settle for a P9 finish.RACE RESULT: DRAPER / EDWARDS - P9 (P35 OVERALL)
RACE 2Draper was first behind the wheel for Race 2 and was initially making good progress and fighting his way through the field. However, Draper and Edwards' rotten luck would continue as the race was cut short with the return of the power steering issue from Free Practice 2.RACE RESULT: DRAPER / EDWARDS - DNF
Shaun Goff – Team Principal:“Matt and Jade very much looked forward to competing at Spa; Matt had previously competed in a 24-hour race a few years ago, but Jade had only done a hand full of laps previously. Free practice 1 went well until Jade had an off, just after the beginning of her stint. Free practice 2 again went well for Matt, but unfortunately Jade had an off at the very fast corner, 'Eau Rouge', which was the result of a handling issue. It left the car looking like it wouldn't be able to race for the rest of the weekend, but credit to the Optimum team to get the car repaired in 3 hours. However, the remainder of the weekend was still hampered with issues from this big impact.” Matt Draper:“The weekend couldn't really have gone any worse; from two big shunts in both free practice sessions, to making do with a car that was just runnable as we were missing part of the front splitter and a rear gurney, and sadly ending in last position from qualifying. On reflection of the weekend, the most impressive performance has come from the team who managed to completely re-build the rear end of the car and produce a car that was fully functional for qualifying. Race one allowed us to make some small set up changes that seemed to improve the handling of the car, however this is hard to say for sure as the tyres were very fresh and sadly the race came to an end for us with the return of the power steering issue that plagued us in free practice 2. It was a sad end to what should have been a great weekend for us."
Jade Edwards:"The weekend was another tough one for us. The incident in Free Practice 2 at Eau Rouge, when the power steering failed, put us on the back foot. The team did an amazing job to get us out for Qualifying; repairing the car in less than three hours was a job that most teams would have given up on, so for that I can't thank them enough. On race day the bad luck kicked back on; race one saw a wrong call of tyre for the start resulting in us being half a lap down. Race two started so well, with Matt making up places each lap and mixing it with the top cars, only to have the power steering fail on us once again, resulting in a DNF. From this weekend, we can take away the knowledge that Matt, and myself make a good pairing speed-wise, and with more seat time for myself, and a bit of luck, we will be back on form at Brands Hatch."
Two more races remain in the championship, so Optimum will be looking to make a mark, beginning at Brands Hatch on August 30th.
DRIVERS CHAMPIONSHIP7: M. Draper - 57pts17: J. Edwards - 1pt
TEAMS CHAMPIONSHIP6: Optimum Motorsport - 57pts
NEXT RACE: Brands Hatch