The curtain came down Sunday afternoon (1 November) on the 2020 International GT Open Championship and a very successful one it has been too for the Optimum Motorsport team. The #72 pairing of Nick Moss and Joe Osborne took the overall victory in the first of two races at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya and this was capped off by the runner-up position in the Pro-Am class for Brendan and Ollie in the sister #7 McLaren 720S GT3. Over the course of the season, the team secured three overall podiums as well as an impressive 13 visits in the Pro-Am class.
The first round of qualifying saw Ollie take the driving duties for the #7 side of the garage, with Nick doing the same for the #72 entry. The paring recorded the fourth and eighth-best times overall, good enough for second and fourth on the Pro-Am grid. It was an especially impressive performance from Nick as he went up against the Pro drivers in the class.
Saturday’s 70-minute race proved to be a thriller with Nick and Joe riding a roller-coaster of a race, only to come out with the victory. Nick started from eighth, maintained his position at the start and steered clear of any issues before handing over to Joe in seventh place as the pit window opened. The team then had to ensure the extra ten seconds in the pits – courtesy of the class win at Spa-Francorchamps – with Joe exiting the pits in 11th place.
Two safety cars certainly helped the cause for the #72 team, closing up the field and allowing Joe to push and gain position. The first tough target was the #26 of Fabrizio Crestani who was incredibly rapid in a straight line in the Bentley, but an assertive pass into the final chicane saw Joe gain the place.
Next up was the #48 of Angelo Negro and then a safety car intervention opened up the race with Joe slotting in behind Brendan in the battle for the lead. Mindful that to finish first, first you must finish, Joe and Brendan battled hard but fairly with the former finally gaining the position five laps later. Clear from the field, Joe completed the final laps to take an unexpected, by very welcome, overall race victory.
While the #72 crew celebrated, it was a case of what might have been for the #7 team. Ollie made a great start from fourth at the very start but was then hit from behind by #88 of Christian Klien. Following the enforced spin, Ollie resumed in seventh, used the maximum pit window time and handed over to Brendan in third position.
He soon passed the #34 Aston Martin and at the restart, and then made a great move for the lead as he went down the inside of the #88 Patryk Krupiński into turn one. Joe soon joined the party at the front of the field, eventually making his way past after some stern defence from Brendan. A spin on the marbles as turn two subsequently dropped the #7 to P10 at the chequered flag.
The second race was less dramatic with the Saturday race winners hobbled by an additional 15-second in the pits to finish in seventh place overall, fourth in class. Brendan and Ollie had a clearer run, running a trouble-free race, capitalising on mistakes from some other two finish in fifth place and to take second position in the Pro-Am class.
The team are next out in what will be the finale of the British GT Championship, next weekend at Silverstone.
Shaun Goff, Optimum Motorsport Team Principal
“It is fantastic as a team owner to have such a quality crew and drivers. It’s been a great weekend again with personal bests in terms of performance from both Nick and Brendan. Their race performances and pace in qualifying have both been excellent and naturally, we’re delighted to get our first overall win of the season – our first since Red Bull Ring last year. A really fantastic achievement from everyone concerned.
“It is hard to believe that we already wrapping up this championship, it feels like we only just started, but overall, it has been phenomenal to see the progress from Brendan and Nick. We expected them both to race in GT4 this season, but instead, they opted for GT3 and they have done so well, and it has been a true pleasure to have facilitated their first season at this level
“They will both take a great deal from this season and be stronger as a result. So many trophies… I really am super-proud of all four drivers, Ollie and Joe have been perfect in their racing and coaching roles. GT Open also deserve a big thank you for their considerable efforts to ensure we have been racing as scheduled.”
Joe Osborne, #72 McLaren 720S GT3
“It’s been a good weekend all-in-all! The overall win is definitely the highlight of the season for us. It was fairly dramatic it must be said and there were many factors that contributed to this success. One key aspect was Nick opting to only use one set if tyres in Saturday qualifying which then allowed me to have a new set in the race and that paid dividends when we got the safety car. I was able to pick my way through with the fresher tyres, so that is one major consideration.
“The second race was always difficult with the maximum success penalty in the pit stop. Nick did really well again, catching and passing Marcelo Hahn – the Pro-Am champion – so that’s a good indication as to where we how we have progressed and where we have ended the season pace-wise.”