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888Optimum BMW Shakedown
At Snetterton

A cold and blustery (as ever) Snetterton was the venue on Tuesday for the first shakedown on UK soil for the two brand new BMW Z4 GT3s of 888Optimum Racing.

All four drivers – Lee Mowle/Joe Osborne in #8 and Steve Tandy/Dan Brown in #88 – were present for the test, which was also the first opportunity for the newly-formed team to work together.

“It went really well,” said Osborne. “We had all the guys involved in the project – those from Optimum and Triple Eight, plus the new recruits – at Snett, and it was great to see how quickly and easily they gelled. Of course, Triple Eight are a hugely professional outfit, and having [Triple Eight Team Principal] Ian Harrison around is a massive plus for me as an up and coming professional; you only have to look at the drivers who’ve raced for him in the past to understand that.

“And we had our race engineer John Waterman with us at the test. He’s spent the past few years in Aussie V8s, which is all about strategy, and I’m looking forward to him being on the pitwall for us this season.”

Was there a BMW presence at the test?

“Not directly. The cars were shaken down in Munich by BMW before they handed them over, and it was the team transporter that collected the cars, but we saw the benefits of having factory support straight away on Tuesday when one of the cars had a minor electrical issue. The guys called the factory and they were able to resolve it straight away. Had we not had that kind of support, the issue would have been with us all day.

“Factory support was one of the major factors in our choosing BMW. Lee realises that it is critical to achieving his goals in racing.”

Will there be more testing before the season begins at Oulton Park?

“We want to arrive at the first race knowing we’ve got a properly sorted car and not find out in free practice that the damper-settings are wrong. Also, this is the first time Lee will have raced in a car that won’t have been built by Ginetta, so he needs time in the car to adjust and to get used to racing a GT3; so basically we’ll be out as often as necessary to get ready for the season. Steve and Dan probably won’t need as much testing as they have more experience than Lee.”

It’s already clear that the 888Optimum British GT programme is both properly funded and professionally run, and that’s likely to be a minimum requirement in the Championship this season; particularly when you factor in the likes of AF Corse, Fortec, Vita4One, Motorbase, MTECH, Trackspeed, United Autosports and the AMR-supported teams. 2013 is looking like being a fascinating season.