Yorkshire-based outfit Optimum Motorsport saw in the new year with a dominant performance in the Hankook 24 Hours of Dubai. The #163 Ginetta G55 crew of Ade Barwick, Euan Hankey, Bradley Ellis and Salih Yoluc won the SP3 class (for GT4 machinery), giving Optimum Motorsport its second Dubai triumph in four years.
Although Ellis was the only driver with prior experience in 24 hour racing, the team still came together to finish in the top 20 overall, in a field of 95 cars.
Ellis baptised the GT4-spec Ginetta G55, which was entering its first endurance race, by setting the fastest lap of qualifying at 2.09.672.
After a frenetic start to the race the Optimum team was third in class heading into the night. Impressive evening stints from Barwick and former Porsche Supercup GB driver Hankey pushed the Ginetta further up the order, and by the eight hour mark the British team had re-inherited the class lead.
A tyre issue at the end of Hankey’s stint caused some brief concern, but all doubts were soon erased as Optimum pushed through the night with a healthy two lap lead.
As the sun rose the Optimum team was still firmly in control, with Hankey even recording the fastest SP3 lap of the race at 2.11.071. By keeping as close to the 2.11s bracket as possible, Optimum’s drivers were able to manage the hefty cushion between them and the second placed Speedworks Ginetta to record a dominant class victory.
“Yes we’ve had the pace all weekend, but given we had three drivers who lacked 24-hour race experience; there was a possibility that we might struggle to deliver the win. But, we all succeeded and did it. All of the drivers acquitted themselves really well.” Team Principal Shaun Goff said.
“It’s been a pleasure to work with Ade, Brad, Euan and Salih, and the whole event has been really satisfying.”
24 hour racing debutant Salih Yoluc added, “It is massive to win! I always thought we had a good chance to because I knew how amazing Euan and Brad are, and we were not so bad as Am’s with Ade, so it wasn’t really surprising, but still an incredible feeling, managing to finish a 24-hour race, and get to win!”