Reigning GT Cup champion Michael O’Brien has praised co-driver Simon Orange’s ever-increasing speed as the pair made their full-season Intelligent Money British GT Championship bow at Oulton Park.
The pair powered their Orange Racing by JMH McLaren 720S GT3 to a comprehensive victory in GT Cup last year, and made a successful debut in British GT at the 2022 #DoningtonDecider.
For O’Brien, one of the key parts of their continued success is how quickly Orange is developing as an Am driver with a spell in the Asian Le Mans Series over the winter adding extra mileage.
He added: “All credit to Si, since Asian Le Mans his driving’s – obviously through last year it was ramping up anyway – but he’s at such a good level now. It’s really, really spot on with all the procedures and everything we learned in Asia, it’s all just complementing what we’re doing now so he’s really improving. The delta between us is ever shrinking so that’s exactly what you want to see between a Pro and an Am in the same car at the same time.
“He’s doing a top job to be honest, he’s really solid and got a good feel for the car and good understanding of the set-up now and what he wants out of it – all credit to him really he’s doing a great job.”
With Simon improving and fighting with some of British GT’s best Ams, Michael has got a battle of his own too with the level of Pros joining the championship giving him and the team good markers to work from as they continue to progress.
“With the influx of star Pros that they’ve had come in is great because it’s a win-win really. It brings the level of the championship up yet again, it’s been incredible anyway, but to have that influx of all the other factory stars that have come in is really good. It’s great to test ourselves as drivers and as a team, to compare to those guys and see where we’re up to and obviously it’s more satisfying if we can start getting some good results,” O’Brien said.
The more immediate mission is to have a solid start to the season at Oulton Park, but it’s not been an easy build-up to the weekend, as O’Brien explained: “The boys have been flat out since Abu Dhabi and then Si had an excursion here at turn one [in testing] which was really unfortunate and that did the whole front of the car. Then went to GT Cup at Donington and almost a carbon copy of the crash but a bit more damage at Donington.
“They’ve just been up against it, they’ve worked faultlessly and all credit all to them really because with any other team you’d probably be looking at missing this race. They’ve got it together, they’ve got it fully Evo’d and it’s a faultless job.”
The weekend itself hasn’t provided much positivity after the Herculean effort to get the car pristine again. Speaking to GT REPORT after the two practice sessions, O’Brien stated that the team is still looking to try and tap into the same pace that made them front-runners last year.
He said: “It’s been a bit difficult so far to be honest, we were obviously optimistic coming into it – as everyone would be. After Donington last year, we knew we had a great car, great team and everything was good. But we’re struggling a little bit to be honest, we’re not like at Donington where we were confident in our pace, we knew what the car had – really just consistently fast all weekend and now we’re consistently towards the bottom of the times all weekend.
“Not ideal, it’s a bit of a tricky one at the moment because we’re not really sure why, the car is feeling good and the team have done a fantastic job on it and it’s performing well but we just can’t get the lap time out of it.”
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