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Optimum McLaren to Contest Three Races Including 24H Spa

Optimum to maintain Endurance Cup presence with part-season entry for McLaren…

Photo: Asian LMS

McLaren outfit Optimum Motorsport will return to Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS with a part-season program involving the Total 24 Hours of Spa.

The British squad has declared plans to enter its Inception Racing program into the season-opening 3 Hours of Monza, the Paul Ricard 1000km in May and the Spa headline round which spans late July and early August.

Ollie Millroy and Brendan Iribe are set to race at Monza as a duo, while the team says it’s searching for a second Bronze-rated competitor in addition to Iribe for the Paul Ricard and Spa events, indicating that the entry will be in Pro-Am.

Last year Optimum contested GTWC Europe Endurance Cup with a Pro-class McLaren for Joe Osborne, Oliver Wilkinson and Rob Bell but missed the final race at Paul Ricard.

FIA World Endurance Championship outfit JOTA has taken over as McLaren’s Pro representative this year and will also enter the Sprint Cup series with its new 720S GT3.

“The plans quickly scaled up when we initially thought about doing the Total 24 Hours of Spa as a standalone event,” explained Millroy, who works as Iribe’s driver coach.

“It soon became clear that we should compete in at least one event prior to the 24, and the more we looked at the calendar, the clearer it became that it made sense to commit to the championship as a whole.

“Brendan was unable to race in [24H] Dubai earlier this year, so we head into this new challenge very much with our eyes on building on his year of GT3 experience to date, whilst also preparing him for his first 24 Hour race.

“He’s been working hard on his fitness, particularly cardio, so it’s an exciting program and we’re confident that we can find a suitable third driver to run at Le Castellet in readiness for the 24 Hours of Spa.”

In addition to its 24H Spa return, Optimum will make its 24 Hours of Le Mans debut this summer with a Ferrari 488 GTE Evo after qualifying for an entry slot courtesy of its results in the Asian Le Mans Series with Millroy, Iribe and Ben Barnicoat.

Optimum was known to be keen for a return to GTWC Europe, but the team was not shown on the 40-car full-season entry list for Endurance Cup which came out last month.

“Last year, Brendan and Ollie started competing in GT3 sprint races and after enjoying some outings in the UAE endurance races it was clear that they also enjoyed that additional challenge,” said team manager Bas Leinders.

“GTWC Europe Endurance Cup is the finest endurance championship for GT3 machinery, with of course the 24 Hours of Spa as the highlight. We see Monza as the start of the preparation towards that demanding and long race in the Ardennes.

“Both Ollie and Brendan drove very well in Monza last year in GT Open, so this gives us all extra motivation heading into round one of the championship.

“Although we’ve already had five race weekends between the Asian Le Mans Series, two Creventic rounds and the Gulf 12 Hours, this feels like the start of an extremely busy calendar for inception racing.

“Unfortunately, Covid-19 is still very present, making the organization more complicated and we will all continue to take all the precautionary measures required to compete as safely as possible.”

Daniel Lloyd is a UK-based reporter for Sportscar365, covering the FIA World Endurance Championship, Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, among other series.

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