Jack Butel contested his first race meeting of 2019, with the Jerseyman traveling to the Middle East to contest the Dubai 24 hours with new team Optimum Motorsport in its Ginetta G55 GT4 sports car. Butel would be driving for the English team in British GT this season and used the desert curtain raiser to familiarise himself with his new surroundings.
With three class victories to the team’s credit already, Optimum Motorsport hoped to add to that tally in the 2019 edition of the 24 Hours of Dubai. Despite their best efforts and solid pace, the team had to be content with eighth position in the GT4 class after a mechanical problem during the night lost the team valuable laps to the competition.
It was an all-new driver line-up this year for Optimum Motorsport with new British GT signing Jack Butel joining Brent Millage, Russ Olivant and Lew Proctor in the #432 Ginetta G55 GT4.
Jack pushed hard in qualifying and subsequently started the race from 11th position on the grid. His opening laps were sensational as he carved his way up to sixth position. He completed his stint, running as high as third as his rivals pitted, before handing the car over to Proctor for his first stint of the race.
The team opted to run long where possible with Olivant running well in seventh position before handing back to Proctor. It was all going smoothly until the 11-hour mark when Millage was forced to pit with a differential issue. This ultimately cost the team 17-laps, taking them out of contention for any potential podium position. Contact late in the race cost further time, but the team pushed on, recovering from 11th position to eighth at the chequered flag.
“Racing in the Middle East is always tough.” explained Butel. “Not only is it physically demanding with the heat but mentally as you have to focus for such a long period. It was great to get to know the Optimum Motorsport guys and try the Ginetta, which is the same spec as the Aston Martin we will use in Britain this year. The result was strong, but importantly our pace was right up there, so I can’t wait to get stuck into a new challenge with British GT this year.”