Early 24-hour Spa exit fails to mar Leeds racer Ollie Wilkinson’s debut milestone

Despite the disappointment of an early end to his debut Total 24 Hours of Spa appearance, Leeds driver Ollie Wilkinson can still count his first outing at the world’s greatest GT3 race with McLaren as a significant career milestone.

By Mark Absolon
Sunday, 25th October 2020, 4:09 pm
Leeds driver Ollie Wilkinson. Picture: Gary Parravani.
Leeds driver Ollie Wilkinson. Picture: Gary Parravani.

Just three years after starting his racing career, Wilkinson lined up alongside the world’s greatest sportscar drivers for the legendary twice around the clock race – and third round of the GT World Challenge Europe Endurance Cup – sharing the Optimum Motorsport McLaren 720S GT3 with team-mates, Rob Bell and Joe Osborne.

Despite making it to the top of the GT3 ladder, and recording the car’s fastest lap across the race as the sole McLaren of the 56-car field, the Optimum crew’s race was forced to end in retirement due to damage sustained in the first few laps.

““It’s heartbreaking to retire from our first 24 Hours of Spa, so much effort has gone into getting us here and competing at this historic event, but we can still leave with our heads held high,” said Wilkinson.

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“The McLaren 720S GT3 has been fantastic all weekend, just one incident at the start prevented us from giving the car the debut it deserved.

As for the team, it’s all thanks to their spirit and determination that we could repair the damage, find new parts and get back out at all. They’ve been absolutely outstanding.

“It wasn’t the result we wanted but I really enjoyed testing the various changes we tried during my night stints. Through the disappointment we’ve learned a lot and we’ll come back stronger next year.

“In the meantime, I’m looking forward to taking our new knowledge into the final British GT round at Silverstone and last GT World Challenge Europe Endurance Cup outing at Circuit Paul Ricard next month.”