Will Moore and Ryan Ratcliffe will campaign Optimum Motorsport’s Audi R8 LMS GT3 in this season’s British GT Championship.
A stalwart of the GT4 class, the Wakefield-based squad confirmed back in September that it was stepping up to the senior category with Ingolstadt’s new-generation machine and has now confirmed its line-up ahead of the forthcoming campaign.
Both drivers are no strangers to British GT: Ratcliffe, who won the 2013 GT4 drivers’ title, also boasts GT3 experience with Triple Eight, while Moore proved one of the fastest Ams throughout last year as part of Academy Motorsport’s teams’ title-winning season.
Optimum’s Audi has already tasted success this season in the hands of Ratcliffe who was part of the crew that finished fifth overall in the Dubai 24 Hours. And the Welshman is confident that experience will prove beneficial ahead of his return to the British GT3 ranks.
“The whole team did a great job for its first GT3 endurance race and this is encouraging and comforting going into this year’s British GT Championship,” said Ratcliffe, who finished fourth during a one-off Ginetta GT3 appearance at Snetterton last season. “I have loved working with GT3-spec machinery for the past two years and, although I found the Audi R8 LMS was easy to get to grips with, you need a lot of trust in the car to be quick.
“Going from GT4 to GT3 is a huge step and everything from the competition to the car will be much harder and more serious. It’s a good way to learn quickly and I'm confident going in to the season that we can get consistent top-five results to be up there at the end of the year. I'm pretty comfortable in the R8 and with setting it up so I'm looking forward to driving some of the UK circuits in the car.”
Moore echoed his co-drivers sentiments.
“I take a lot of optimism from Optimum Motorsport’s performance in Dubai and I’m really excited about what’s in store during the forthcoming British GT season,” said the Englishman. “We will have to do a lot of learning quickly, but I feel that’s achievable and we get up-to-speed and be there or thereabouts. Like Ryan [Ratcliffe], I’m hoping to feature consistently inside the top five positions to be up at the sharp end come the end of the year.”
Optimum Motorsport Team Principal Shaun Goff added: “Competing in a 24-hour race with the Audi means we have already covered the total distance we will do in the British GT Championship. The car is now no longer new to us, so we just need to focus on setting it up for the new 2016 Pirelli tyre. We have experience with Ryan [Ratcliffe] in Blancpain and the Dubai 24 Hours and that means he is on the front foot already.
“I believe his transition will be easy with a season of GT4 under his belt. He can just focus on learning the car and, from what I’ve seen of the Audi, it’s an easy car to adapt to. I’m sure Will [Moore] will be on the pace very quickly and I believe this season will be another competitive one for Optimum Motorsport. I expect to be in the mix from the very beginning and, who knows, we might even take home some silverware!”