British outfit Optimum Motorsport will hope for an invitation to the 24 Hours of Le Mans by fielding an Audi R8 LMS GT3 for Joe Osborne and Flick Haigh in the 2017 Michelin Le Mans Cup.
The team first sampled the Le Mans Cup at Circuit Paul Ricard last August and that exploratory outing has prompted the team to enter its Audi R8 LMS for long-standing British GT driver Osborne and ex-Caterham ace Haigh.
Both drivers have previously raced for the team in the 24H Series, and recently scored a fourth-place finish in the Hankook 24H Dubai.
The winner of the Le Mans Cup will secure an invitation to the 2018 24 Hours of Le Mans, an enticing opportunity for the Shaun Goff-led team.
“Having contested the Paul Ricard round of the Michelin Le Mans Cup in 2016, we felt the format really works well for our Am drivers,” commented Goff. “It’s part of a big package and is well promoted by the organisers.
“There is the lure of an entry to Le Mans if all goes well, but it’s made more appealing by our 24-hour endurance pedigree. I’m looking forward to working with Flick Haigh and Joe Osborne and I believe we will start the season as one of the favourites.”
2009 GT4 European Series champion Osborne will compete in the Le Mans Cup alongside a British GT GT4 program with Tolman Motorsport that was announced last November.
“I’m really looking forward to getting this campaign underway,” he said. “We visit some very cool circuits to drive in a GT3.
“Flick is currently driving better than ever in the Audi and is still improving. Optimum Motorsport is proving to engineer one of the fastest Audi R8 LMS GT3s out there, so bring on the fun.”
Haigh progressed through the ranks of several British series, including Caterhams and GT racing, before competing in a few endurance outings in Optimum’s Audi over the past couple of seasons.
“I’m very excited about this opportunity with Optimum Motorsport,” she said. “I took a step back from wheel-to-wheel racing after I left Caterhams in 2013 and endurance racing is something I’ve loved and enjoyed immensely.
“However, when the opportunity arose to get back into sprint format racing, I felt a desire to sharpen up my racecraft and I feel ready to tap back into that mindset and get some results.
“Joe and I have worked together for a few years now. He is not only a friend but a great driver coach and we work well. I have a huge amount of respect for him, which I believe makes for a great driver pairing.”