Further GT Open podiums for Inception Racing at Imola as tactics come into force
The seventh and eighth round of International GT Open at Imola, unfortunately, yielded a much-reduced GT3 field, with just three entries in the Pro-Am class, guaranteeing podiums for Wakefield-based Inception Racing in each race
With just half of the normal level of points on the board, the Optimum Motorsport run team subsequently opted to race tactically to aid their championship quest later in the season.
Nick Moss returned to the fold, having been forced to sit out the last three rounds due to injury. He returned alongside Joe Osborne in the #72 McLaren 720S GT3, with Pro-Am title leaders Brendan Iribe and Ollie Millroy is the sister #7 entry.
Despite the diminished field, it was business as usual in Friday practice, with both sides of the garage adapting to the fast, narrow Imola circuit.
The team headed into qualifying, ultimately recording the seventh and eighth fastest times with Joe and Brendan respectively, second and third in class. With no success penalty on board, Joe was pushing from the outset, hounding the class-leading #11 of Marcus Paverud ahead.
Given the narrow nature of the circuit, Joe had to shadow the car ahead until a mistake on lap 19 allowed him to get the run and pass complete.
Nick took over for the second stint, but a less than perfect stop had allowed the #11 to regain the position. Nick set about closing the small margin, whilst keep an eye on those behind. Ultimately, there were no further gains to be made and he was forced to settle for the runner-up position.
It was a similar story on Sunday for the #72 duo, this time with Nick starting and then handing over to Joe. Despite his best efforts, including the second-fastest lap of the race, it was the runner-up position once again to conclude their race weekend.
Brendan and Ollie, meanwhile, started the race weekend with 20-seconds’ worth of success penalty. With just the three cars in the class, they opted to use the rules to their own advantage.
The third-place Pro-Am finish in Saturday’s race saw them drop half of their success penalty. Sunday saw first Ollie, and then Brendan, lead the class commandingly before the latter slowed on the final lap to drop to third position.
This tactic means that with the reduced points awarded at Imola, they head to the next two rounds at the Red Bull Ring with a 14-point advantage in the Pro-Am standings, but crucially have now shed all but five seconds worth of success penalty.
Ollie Millroy said: “It felt tough giving up a win like that on the final lap when the car felt amazing all weekend, but we had to think about the championship and ditch the success penalty before the next one.”
Joe Osborne added: “Nick was massively ahead of schedule in his recuperation, so it was a really impressive race weekend from him. From the outside, you couldn’t really tell he was driving with a bit of pain, so he did a really good job.
“It was a bit of a difficult weekend for us, the Balance of Performance wasn’t favour at the start of the weekend, but it did improve, so GT Open did a good job in recognising that.
"It was a smaller grid which was a shame as with less cars, it’s always less competitive but we’re hopeful that will improve and we can move forward.”