© Ryan Ratcliffe 2017
Produced by Abbott Designs Ltd
Optimum Shows Depth and Quality with Fourth Place on
GT3 Debut in Dubai 24 Hours
Optimum Motorsport showed great depth and quality by remaining composed and making brilliant strategic calls during its maiden multi-
The Wakefield, England-
The 24H Series has caught the imagination of many well respected teams and drivers since its inception; 56 cars were entered for the 2006 edition of the Dubai 24 Hours, while the 2016 field consisted of 100 entries, and it was a sight to behold as the pack took the green flag at the traditional 14.00 start time.
Joe Osborne, who held the mantle as the top Brit in sixth overall at the end of qualifying, took the opening stint in the #14 Audi and immediately moved into fourth overall with a hard but fair overtake on Jerome Bleekemolen’s Mercedes-
However, he found himself in the lead at the end of the first hour, after much of the field utilised a Code 60 to make their first tyre and fuel stops, while Optimum Motorsport opted to stick to its game plan and replace Osborne with Frank Stippler during a second neutralisation that occurred after nearly 90 minutes of racing.
Positions regularly changed hands as strategies played out and Haigh – a former Caterham Classic Graduate Champion – held her own in the top four against the identical Audi of Land Motorsport and a Black Falcon Mercedes as the light faded over Dubai.
‘Welsh wizard’, Ryan Ratcliffe, made some progress up the leaderboard during his first appearance in the striking black and orange Audi, but all of his hard work was undone when he sustained left-
Now 16th in class and 25th overall, Osborne spent his second stint making up lost ground and relinquished the car to Stippler in ninth, and another position was gained through the following pit stop cycle.
The next phase of the race was dominated by two successive and protracted Code 60s; the second prompted Optimum to switch drivers and a well-
Rapid female racer, Haigh, impressed on her GT3 debut, as her lap times were often on par with the leaders’ and the #14 car could be found in and around seventh position in class as the sun rose over the Dubai Autodrome after more than 13 hours of darkness.
However, there were more positions to be had and Optimum Motorsport capitalised on the demise of two frontrunners during the final two hours, and it was Haigh who had the honour of taking the team to fifth place overall and fourth in class on its GT3 debut.
Optimum Motorsport Team Principal, Shaun Goff, said: “This is a fantastic result and a great way to begin the 2016 season and Optimum Motorsport’s GT3 venture. I believe we had the pace and the ability do achieve much more in Dubai, because the team performed remarkably throughout and the drivers were sensational, but 24-