Wins and podiums at Monza for Inception as the GT Open Pro-Am title race rolls on to Barcelona
The penultimate round of the International GT Open Championship at Monza brought plenty of drama for Wakefield's Inception Racing team, with Nick Moss and Joe Osborne enjoying the top step of the podium on Saturday, while teammates and Pro-Am title leaders Brendan Iribe and Ollie Millroy slipped out of the points.
This was somewhat reversed in Sunday’s wet race, where the #7 duo bounced back to take the Pro-Am runner-up position, while the #72 side of the garage had to settle for fifth place, having started from the pole position.
In terms of the Pro-Am championship, the 17-point advantage for Brendan and Ollie became extended ever so slightly to 19 points, with 20 points up for grabs at Circuit de Catalunya. In that respect, it’s very much game on for the pairing to clinch the accolade next month.
It really was a case of mixed fortunes on Saturday, with Nick and Joe powering through on the penultimate lap of the 70-minute race to take a superb class victory. Nick started 14th overall, fourth in class, and was quickly up to speed, gaining four positions as the Safety Car was deployed on lap nine.
The racing soon resumed, and he found himself battling with the #11 Honda of Jens Moller, whilst fending off the #17 Lamborghini of Jan Seyffert from behind. It was an incredibly tense fight, with Nick able to maintain his position and box for Joe as the pit window opened on lap 15.
It was a good pitstop, Joe vaulted fourth to second in class as he exited the pits ahead of the #17 Nick has chased so valiantly. Very much eyes forward, Joe set about closing the five-second margin to the #10 of Tyler Cooke. This was achieved by lap 31, with five tours remaining.
A small mistake on lap 35 at the second chicane allowed Joe to close even further before making a stunning pass around the outside of Alboreto Parabolica to take the class lead and a few minutes later, the victory, his third of the season.
inception racing teammates and Pro-Am Championship leaders Brendan and Ollie meanwhile finished at the back of the pack and failed to score championship points after heavy contact on lap two. Ollie had moved to the front of the Pro-Am field having passed the #10 of Brendon Leitch, but entering the first chicane moments later, was hit hard by #19 Lamborghini of Baptiste Moulin.
The move was never on, the speed differential enormous, with the #7 McLaren heading back to the pits with the right-hand side door open and rear bodywork damaged following the impact. Following the repairs, Ollie and then Brendan completed the race, but seventh position did not yield any valuable championship points.
Sunday brought the predicted heavy rain, but at least the first ten minutes of qualifying were dry, enabling Joe to continue where he left off on Saturday; claiming pole position - both in class and overall - by 0.005s from his nearest rival. Brendan meanwhile was sixth-best in class, but both he and Ollie would soon be on the march towards the front of the Pro-Am pack.
Rain was starting to fall as the field peeled away from the dummy grid for the installation lap and some opted to box for wet Michelins at the end of the parade lap. Joe rolled away from his pole position having elected not to pit, leading the first lap before dropping to third place on lap four.
Losing time to the #17 of Gerhard Tweraser, he suffered a big spin on lap 12, but was able to resume in fourth place as he handed over to Nick, admitting that the conditions were worse than they had precited. With the additional 10-seconds of success penalty to serve, this put the team’s Am racer back on track just ahead of Ollie in the #7 McLaren, the latter soon utilising all of his experience to gain the position ahead of the inevitable Safety Car period.
Ollie had worked his way back into the Pro-Am battle as others took success penalties in the pits, but he was soon right on the pace, catching and passing title rival Jens Moller for the runner-up position in class. Nick meanwhile pushed on, just missing out on the fourth position, taking the chequered flag 0.052s behind Florian Scholze.
The team now prepare for the International GT Open Championship showdown in Barcelona, which takes place 23-24 October, where Brendan and Ollie simply require points to be crowned 2021 Pro-Am Champions.
Joe Osborne said: “That was really cool and Nick’s qualifying for the race was really good.
"It’s another good result for him after last time out at the Red Bull Ring.
"The initial start was good and then he got crowded out and did well to avoid an accident ahead. That put him a little on the back foot and then he was able to pick off some cars ahead.
"We were racy with our strategy and managed to jump a few in the pits and then that left me to pass the Leipert entry ahead. I hedged my bets with traffic ahead and then got a nice run on him into the last corner. A good day all around.
“The race on Sunday was a bit difficult. We knew it would be wet, but it was a question of when, and by how much. Slicks was the right call leaving to go to the grid but in hindsight, it would have been best to pit at the end of the formation lap. I wanted to stay out until a Safety Car to try and retain the lead, but it didn’t happen, and it was the wrong call and that one’s on me.
"It was difficult, we left too much of the dry set-up on the car, but on the positive, Nick’s stint was really good towards the end, and he was fast.”
Ollie Millroy said: “Sunday’s race was really good fun, very entertaining!
"Brendan did really well to keep the car on track on slicks in those early laps and didn’t make any mistakes and the team had a mega pitstop moving on to the wets, then his pace was awesome in what really is his first ‘proper’ wet race in GT3, so then I jumped in and the car felt really good.
"I was one of the fastest cars on track at certain stages and I was able to work my way up the order. We ran out of laps ultimately, but everyone did a good job to recover from the Saturday race. All good.”