Fantastic GT Open one-two finish for Inception Racing at Paul Ricard
It was a perfect start to the International GT Open season as the Inception Racing, Optimum Motorsport-prepared McLaren 720S GT3s swept to a stunning one-two result with Nick Moss and Joe Osborne taking the Pro-Am class win, fractions ahead of the sister car of Brendan Iribe and Ollie Millroy.
Backing up the impressive performance, the following day saw the #7 pairing of Brendan and Ollie run at the sharp end of the field, before finishing second in class, making it three podium positions over an impressive race weekend for the Yorkshire-based team.
The first race of the season was actually a bit of a slow burn to start with due to two lengthy safety car periods limiting the on-track racing to just a few racing laps. Joe had started fifth overall on the grid in the #72 McLaren 720S and made an impressive pass for fourth on the opening lap – around the outside of Christian Klien at turn four.
This set up his race perfectly as he shadowed the leaders before pitting on lap 19.
Nick resumed third overall, gaining track position courtesy of great pit work and Joe running a few laps longer than the opposition.
With the #48 Mercedes entry losing ground in the closing stages, he continued to put in strong lap times, keeping the race leader in sight.
Behind though, Ollie had taken over from Brendan and with no further safety car interventions, was able to carve his way through the field to join battle with teammate Nick with five minutes remaining.
Nick was under immense pressure from Ollie, but he wasn’t going to be denied the top step on this occasion. It couldn’t have been closer, the pair taking the chequered flag first and second in the Pro-Am class, second and third overall, securing maximum points for the championship challenge.
Sunday’s race brought yet more silverware for Ollie and Brendan. A fine qualifying run from the former placed the inception racing entry onto the front row of the grid for the start and Ollie duly made a strong start to run second overall and to lead the class.
A tense battle with the #77 Porsche of Andy Soucek followed, and while lapping traffic the two made light contact, with both losing track position. With an additional five-second success penalty to serve in the pitstop, it was a battle for the class podium.
Undeterred, Brendan took over for the second stint, again showing great pace and race craft in holding back Christian Klien and Jordan Pepper for multiple laps, before taking the chequered flag in sixth place, second in the Pro-Am class.
The result also gives the pairing the championship lead after two rounds.
With a strong start to the GT Open campaign – and 29 valuable points - the team now begin preparations for the second round of GT World Challenge Europe, which conveniently takes place at Paul Ricard.
Shaun Goff, team principal, said: “It’s been a very good weekend and it’s been especially rewarding to see the great momentum from the end of last season carry over into the first GT Open race of 2021.
"With zero success penalty at the start of the season, we showed the strength of the team and our great driver pairings in the Pro-Am class, so we’re all very happy to continue where we left off last season.
“It’s a nice problem to have, but we have quite a volume of trophies at the moment! It is testament to the hard work from everyone in the team, our mechanics, engineers, and well as to McLaren – credit to them as well. We happily take these trophies as a reward to everybody involved.”
Joe Osborne said: “A really good start to the season with the Pro-Am win and second overall.
"I had lengthy safety cars in my stint, so I’m super happy with the result, so 80% credit to Nick, 15% to the team for the slick pitstop that jumped us up a position. That leaves me with a 5%! We’re super happy, it’s so important to start strongly in the championship.
"The second race was a tough one; neither of us were overly happy with the balance and we couldn't push on like we wanted to. Obviously, we lost position with the 10-second success penalty in the pitstop. One of those days after a great day!"
Ollie Millroy added: “Nick drove so well at the end, he didn’t make a single mistake to give me the opportunity.
"Great job by Inception Racing and McLaren to get the double podium!
"Second place in Pro-Am was an awesome result with our five-second pit stop success penalty for yesterday’s result and it puts us in the lead of the Pro-Am championship.”