Ollie produced another strong performance at Nurburgring this weekend in Round 5 of the Blancpain Endurance Series. Behind the wheel of the Ecurie Ecosse Barwell BMW Z4 GT3 Ollie proved his worth amongst the strongest field of GT teams and drivers, in the world.
The team made the decision to head abroad early for a pre-event test day at Spa Francorchamps in Belgium on Wednesday 19th September. This was a very successful day for the team where not only could the drivers get up to speed, but a lot was found with the set-up of the car ahead of the race weekend.
The first session on track at the Nurburgring took place on Saturday morning with the bronze graded driver session. The second session was a ninety-minute free practice, where Ollie would drive first to get a basic understanding of set up and set a data lap for the team to work from. Throughout the session all three drivers got behind the wheel and the team made some minor adjustments to get the most from the cars set-up. Ollie then ran new tyres in the sixty minute pre-qualifying session and posted a time which was good enough for 19th fastest overall, a very competitive lap in the only 2011 spec car on circuit.
Next up was qualifying. With 50 cars on circuit, one of the main challenges is to find clear space to post a strong lap time. Ollie managed his session perfectly to allow himself to set three consecutive flying laps. He posted his strongest qualifying performance of the year so far which would put them a strong P24 on the grid, P14 in their category, which the team were delighted with.
It was decided that the best race strategy would be for Andrew Smith to start the three-hour race, Joe Twyman would drive the middle stint and Ollie would take over for the final sixty-five minutes of the race. Andrew had a very strong opening lap and managed to get the car into 21st position. He then held his ground extremely well and posted some lap times, which were competitive against some of the pro drivers on circuit. Thirty minutes into his stint, the safety car was released onto the circuit following an accident. Due to the slightly smaller fuel tank on the 2011 BMW Z4 GT3, the team was unable to pit Andrew when they wanted to and this meant they lost almost three-quarters of a lap. When Andrew was able to come in to pit and switch with Joe Twyman, Joe was release back out on track into P28. A solid stint from Joe saw the Ecurie Ecosse car move up into 24th Position for Ollie to take over. A large fuel fire from the neighboring team in the pit lane really put the Barwell Team under pressure, as their whole pit box was soaked in fire extinguisher foam. This didn’t faze them at all and they sent Ollie out on circuit after another flawless pit stop. Immediately Ollie was setting times as fast as the leading cars, and was one of the top 5 fastest drivers on circuit. This was very impressive as Joe Twyman had picked up a small amount of damage earlier in the race, which damaged the steering but Ollie had to use all of his experience to drive around this problem. He chased down cars ahead of him and managed to work his way through to finish in P20 overall, P10 in the Pro-Am category.
“This was a very strong weekend for both myself and the team, and it proved that even running in last years race car we can perform on a world class stage. Everyone has put 100% effort into this program and it’s clearly starting to pay off. My teammates Andrew and Joe put in great performances this weekend and we are now looking forward to Round 6 at Navarra, Spain on the 14th October.”