A rollercoaster race weekend for Inception Racing at Virginia
There were plenty of highs, a few lows and a great deal of determination for Yorkshire-based Inception Racing as they travelled to Virginia International Raceway for rounds five and six of the GT World Challenge America.
In addition, in what was proved to be a rollercoaster ride for the drivers and team alike, the Optimum Motorsport run team took in the additional GT America rounds, securing a dominant race win and a fine second position.
Following on from the success at Circuit of the Americas, Brendan Iribe and Ollie Millroy were full of confidence heading to VIRginia. However, a substantial crash in testing ahead of the first practice session saw the #70 McLaren 720S GT3 damaged beyond immediate repair, while thankfully, Brendan was unhurt.
The team sourced a new 720S GT3 from MIA in Canada, and this arrived at the circuit on Friday afternoon, just in time for a brief shakedown of the new chassis ahead of Saturday’s race action. It was a logistical challenge and it’s a testament to the team that from that point onwards, they were able to compete – and show fantastic pace - in both the GT World Challenge America and GT America races.
It was the two GT America rounds that yielded the most successful results over the course of the weekend. Brendan started the first race in second position, slotting in behind the #1 of Charlie Luck at the start, with the #04 of George Kurtz close behind.
A decisive move for the lead paid off on lap six, while further skirmishes made for an exciting battle for the top three positions. Luck, eventually regained the lead from Brendan before a full course yellow with 20 minutes effectively ended the race.
Sunday morning saw Brendan take pole position for the second GT America race, before making a great getaway at the front of the field. It was a commanding performance as he dominated the race with a flawless drive, again taking the fastest race lap, and this time taking the top step of the podium.
In GT World Challenge, the opening race saw Brendan start fourth in class, eighth overall. He made good progress in his stint to run second in Pro-Am, only for an issue in the pitlane to severely compromise the race. The eventual seventh in class certainly did not reflect the pace of both Brendan and Ollie.
The second GT World Challenge race was unfortunately over seconds after it began, with Ollie being hit by a rival on the opening lap, damaging the right rear suspension and eliminating him from the event.
There were plenty of positives to take away from VIRginia, including great teamwork, collaboration as well as great success in the GT America rounds. The team now travel to Spa-Francorchamps for the second round of the International GT Open Championship and will be aiming to replicate their great one-two positions secured last time out at Paul Ricard.
Shaun Goff, Optimum Motorsport team principal, said: “We had a few hurdles to overcome as a team this weekend in America. It’s a credit to everyone involved, our relationship with McLaren and MIA, that we were able to compete at all.
"We again showed our collective team strength and determination and we come away from Virginia more than happy with the team performance both on, and off track.”
Ollie Millroy added: “In the opening GT World Challenge race, the pace was awesome, as was the car, both mine and Brendan’s stints were on it and we were running second in Pro-Am, but we lost a lap in the pits which took us out of the race. Then in the second race I got rear contact on the first lap. Only a small touch, but it snapped a rear suspension joint.
“It was a fantastic drive by Brendan in the GT America race. As it’s only for the bronze-rated drivers, it gives me a moment to sit back and realise how well he’s doing in such a short space of time. Super proud to coach this guy right from the start of his racing career.
“Looking at the positives, our pace was great all weekend and Brendan did a great job in the GT America race. Thank you to the team for your hard work, on to the next one.”