Optimum Motorsport has joined McLaren’s customer racing stable of teams and has announced that it will compete in the newly renamed GT World Challenge Europe Endurance Cup (formerly Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup) in 2020 with three McLaren drivers aboard its new 720S GT3.
This will be the first campaign in the World Challenge Europe Endurance Cup for the 720S GT3, which is entering its second season in customer hands in 2020.
“The decision to enter the Endurance Cup is a big step for all involved, and it is the ultimate challenge in GT3 racing for the drivers, the team and the car,” said Ian Morgan, the director motorsport at McLaren Automotive.
“Each of the races will be a true test, especially the biggest race of the year when the calendar visits Spa for the 24-hour event, but the team and line-up is extremely strong and more than up to the challenge they face.”
For the season McLaren factory drivers Rob Bell and Joe Osborne will race alongside Optimum returnee and newly-named McLaren Professional Driver Ollie Wilkinson. Wilkinson has been competing with Optimum for three years in the Ginetta GT5 Challenge, British GT and International GT Open.
“I’ve been with Optimum since I started racing in 2017 and it feels like home,” he said. “It’s been great to help build a relationship between them and McLaren and to take my next big step whilst staying with the team. It’s a massive deal for me to be moving up to the top level of GT3 racing, I’m really looking forward to the challenges ahead and to work with Rob and Joe.
“Learning from two such highly-experienced Factory Drivers will only help to push me to another level. I can’t wait to get to grips with the 720S GT3 and help showcase what we believe the car is capable of on the GT World Challenge stage. The level of competition is going to be really high and I’m certainly not underestimating how hard it will be, but at the same time I couldn’t be more excited to be part of such a world-class championship.”
Osborne meanwhile, also has previous experience racing with Optimum in the Le Mans Cup and British GT Championship in the past. He has been a McLaren factory driver since 2018 and has worked with the marque closely in developing its 720S GT3 product.
“I’m buzzing to get the season underway and to be back working with Optimum Motorsport, now running with the McLaren 720S GT3,” said Osborne. “I’m really looking forward to teaming up with Ollie and Rob, and we have the tools we need to have a strong year and push for results.
“While Ollie is new to McLaren, he has proved himself to be extremely quick and capable, and I have worked with and raced with Rob for a number of years now so I’m confident we will be up to speed pretty quickly. I am excited to be back racing with Optimum Motorsport as well, building on the relationship I have had with the team for the past 14 years.
“I’m really proud to be working with McLaren and we have put a huge amount of effort and resource into 720S GT3 programme, so it is great to have the opportunity to show the car in arguably the most challenging GT3 championship in the world. I can’t wait to be back in the car and on the grid to get the 2020 season going.”
Bell is a longstanding McLaren factory man, having secured multiple titles in his long career, including winning the Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup in 2016 and International GT Open in 2017.
Alongside Osborne, he was instrumental in the development of the 720S GT3 and competed in the British GT Championship last season, taking the first victory in the UK for the car at the season finale at Donington Park.
“I’m delighted to be driving the 720S GT3 for Optimum Motorsport alongside Ollie and Joe in the Endurance Series. It’s an extremely competitive championship and I’m especially looking forward to taking on one of the biggest challenges in GT3 racing, which is the 24 Hours of Spa.
“Behind the scenes at McLaren Customer Racing, we’ve been working hard to produce the best-performing car for this event, and this will be an amazing opportunity to show what we can do!”
Optimum’s GT World Challenge Europe Endurance Cup programme announcement is the first of several. Details of the team’s other programmes are due to be announced shortly.
“I’m delighted to be competing at such a high level in 2020 and excited to join the McLaren Customer Racing family,” said Shaun Goff, Optimum Motorsport team principal.
“It has always been our aim to race in the GT World Challenge Europe in 2020, and I’m especially pleased to be working with McLaren and we have three great drivers in the line-up.”
Image courtesy of Optimum Motorsport