Ollie Millroy put in yet another first class performance at the Paul Ricard circuit in southern France this weekend in round 3 of the Blancpain Endurance Series. Driving the Barwell Motorsport run Ecurie Ecosse BMW Z4 GT3, Ollie was once again given the opportunity to shine amongst the top GT drivers and teams in the world.
With all of the action taking place over two days Ollie and the whole Ecurie Ecosse crew were in for a very busy weekend. The first of Saturday’s three sessions was the Bronze Graded drivers free practice session, so Joe Twyman took to the track to get a basic understanding of the balance and set up of the car. Ollie was first to drive in the main Free Practice session, and certainly had his work cut out. Not only was this his first ever visit to the Paul Ricard circuit but it was also his first time racing a GT car in such hot conditions. With the ambient temperature at 36 Degrees Celsius, the cockpit of the car was reaching temperatures in excess of 60 degrees. This meant that all of Ollie’s hard work and preparation was going to pay off throughout the weekend and he settled into the environment very quickly. In the Pre-Qualifying session all three drivers were very happy with the set-up changes that were made throughout the day, and felt comfortable heading into qualifying.
It was a very challenging qualifying session for Ollie and the Ecurie Ecosse team because due to the BMW Z4 GT3’s fantastic performance through the corners, the car is penalized in a straight line and with the one mile straight at Paul Ricard this really makes it a challenge to manage your space in qualifying. On numerous occasions Ollie would find himself some space for a clear lap amongst the 54 car field, but when travelling along the straight in sector 2 it was impossible to keep cars behind him, meaning he would get held up for the remainder of the lap. Qualifying in P44 was not at all a true reflection on the pace of the Ecurie Ecosse team, so they were still feeling optimistic about making a charge in the race.
For the first time in his Motorsport career, Ollie was to start the 3-hour GT Endurance race. This was a totally new challenge for him and one that he was very excited about. It was important for Ollie to make up as many positions at the start whilst the pack was still bunched up, and that’s exactly what he did. Another fantastic stint from Ollie saw him carving his way through the field, over-taking far more experienced GT drivers, and at the end of his stint he was running P4 overall.
Ollie pitted after his 70 minute stint for another flawless pit stop by the Barwell Motorsport crew and handed over the controls to Joe Twyman. When Joe exited the pits he was running P23 overall and put in a very solid middle stint, posting lap times, which were matching some of the Pro Drivers. Doing exactly what he needed to do the team were very pleased with his performance before handing over to Oliver Bryant for the final 70 minutes of the race. Oliver also got on a great pace making up places and setting some very good lap times throughout his stint, managing to get the Ecurie Ecosse car up to P13 overall and P7 in the Pro-Am class, up to the final lap of the race. As part of the three drivers hard charge through the field, the team adopted an aggressive strategy on fuel usage and with just a few corners to go the car started to run short on petrol. Oliver had to call upon all his experience to nurse the car round to the finish line, unfortunately losing 7 positions in the process.
Although this was a slightly disappointing end to the weekend, it was an amazing performance from Ollie and the whole Ecurie Ecosse team and experiences to take forward to the next race.
Ollie is now working hard to try to put together a deal to compete in the world class Spa 24hours race on the 29th July.