Inception Racing reign in Spain
Ollie Millroy and Brendan Iribe won the 2021 International GT Open Pro-Am Championship, wrapping up the title-battle duties on Saturday afternoon ahead of Sunday’s race which saw the sister #72 McLaren dominate from the offset.
Heading into the final weekend of GT Open at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, Spain, the driver duo of car #7 Millroy and Iribe had a 19-point lead, with sights set on claiming the Pro-Am Championship title Saturday afternoon ahead of the closing race of the season on Sunday.
The sister McLaren of Joe Osborne and Nick Moss had their hopes set on claiming second, but a three-second penalty during the penultimate race saw that narrowly slip through their fingers.
Having had a full day of testing on Thursday, and practice on Friday, qualifying on Saturday morning brought the start of the final round of the International GT Open Championship. With an all Am qualifying, Nick and Brendan headed out under the Spanish sun to put in the times ahead of the afternoon’s race.
Nick put in a tremendous lap in the #72 McLaren to position the car P2 in class and sixth overall with Brendan starting fourth in class in the sister #7 entry.
The race, however, brought drama from the offset. A three-second time penalty were to be added to #72’s time for causing a collision during the opening stint of the race. A double pitstop from the inception racing team saw both Ollie and Joe jump into the cars at the mid-point stage of the race, with Ollie hunting down just the 2 points needed to win the Championship.
Revival from Joe came in the form of a three-car overtake heading down the main straight into the approach to turn one seeing them move up into P2 in class, and fifth overall. A late safety car (which ultimately, the race was to finish under), was released with six minutes remaining, thus, seeing Joe box under yellow flag conditions to avoid being awarded the pit-stop penalty for Sunday.
As a result of this, the sister #7 McLaren crossed the line to finish third in class and claim the all-important points needed to take the championship title.
Sunday brought a new day and thus, more chance of redemption as Joe set the quickest time in qualifying seeing him sit on the pole, with the new 2021 GT Open Pro-Am champions, Ollie and Brendan sit just behind in P3.
Joe backed the pack up upon the commencement of the rolling start, but all was not meant to be as he lost the lead heading into turn one. Making those world-famous overtakes similarly to the previous race on Saturday, by turn eight, Joe was back into the lead where ultimately, the car would remain until crossing the chequered flag.
As for the driver duo of Brendan and Ollie, the latter fought hard to regain position in the race whilst chasing down a second-place overall finish after closing the gap to 0.8 seconds. The newly crowned 2021 International GT Open Pro-Am Champions continued the Saturday celebrations long into the weekend as Brendan rounded up the action for car #7, crossing the line P2 in class, and sixth overall.
Whilst the championship battle drew to a close in Spain, as did another a lot closer to home. Lewis Goff, Optimum Racing Karting Junior claimed his first championship title over the weekend in the Cadet Karting Championship (CKC) 112kg class at the Clay Pigeon Raceway, Dorset.
The youngster headed into the weekend with a 39-point lead and dominated from the start. The weekend, which was divided into two heats, saw Lewis finish first in class in both ahead of the title-deciding race. Following in the inception teams footsteps, he dominated the race to see the chequered first in class and take the title.
The team now prepare for the IMSA Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta, Georgia, which takes place 10-13 November, where Brendan and Ollie will be joined by Ben Barnicoat, of whom joined the duo at inception racing’s Le Mans debut back in August.
Ollie Millroy said: “I just went out there and attacked to be able to get stuck in with the race, I got stuck in with the Mercedes the Lamborghinis which also made it a really fun race. To be able to finish the year and win the championship on the podium was a great feeling.
"We’ve led [the championship] from the start of the year and we’ve been solid at each round. We’ve had one DNF which wasn’t our fault at all, other than that, it’s been a really solid year for us all.
“Brendan’s done an awesome job and again, has been super solid. For a sprint race you have to be aggressive and for Brendan to step p and be able to do that and to win a sprint championship is pretty amazing really.
“It’s been a super strong season for the entire team as well. As I said winning is all about consistency and every single person in the team, including McLaren, have been superb throughout the season. The great thing about GT Open is that we’ve also had Nick and Joe alongside us too, we’re able to push each other along and all learn from one another.”
Joe Osborne added: “It’s been great to have so much consistency this season, we’ve had three [pole positions] in GT Open which is a huge credit to the team.
"It was rare that in qualifying we ran two different sets of tyres and made no setup changes because I was happy with the car.
"The most difficult thing was all the traffic that was out on track. Unfortunately, due to Nick’s accident earlier on in the year, we lost out on two rounds meaning that we couldn’t be within that title contention. But Nick came back, aggressive, and ready to get back out on track.
“Barcelona circuit is a brilliant track, it’s one that’s got every sort of corner, there’s a fast turn 9, there’s a technical last sector, it makes the track fun to race on. Even better when we get to go up on the podium too!”