Barnicoat joins Optimum squad for Porsche WEC assault

Optimum Motorsport will expand into the World Endurance Championship this year, with Lexus factory driver Ben Barnicoat signed to drive its GTE Am Porsche entered in partnership with Project 1.

#38 Jota McLaren 720 S GT3: Ben Barnicoat

Shaun Goff's prolific British squad, which ran an Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3 to the British GT3 championship title in 2018, has been affiliated with McLaren in recent years and entered a 720S GT3 in last weekend's Daytona 24 Hours opening round of the IMSA SportsCar Championship.

But with no GTE car in McLaren's portfolio and GT3 machinery not eligible to enter the WEC until 2024, Optimum will team up with German WEC regulars Project1 to enter a single 911 RSR-19 under the Inception Racing banner.

Barnicoat, who finished fourth at Daytona in his GTD Pro class Vasser Sullivan Racing Lexus RC F GT3, rejoins the team for which he contested last season's Asian Le Mans Series and the IMSA Petit Le Mans season finale in his final race appearance as a McLaren factory driver.

He will be partnered with regular Optimum pairing Brendan Iribe and Ollie Millroy, the 2021 International GT Open pro-am champions having raced together with Barnicoat during the ALMS and at last year's Le Mans 24 Hours when they campaigned a Ferrari fielded in partnership with Kessel Racing.

The trio reached the finish and were classified 12th after suffering repeated punctures in the early phases of the race.

They had also planned to enter the Monza WEC round, but withdrew following a practice accident for American amateur driver Iribe at the Ascari chicane.

Barnicoat will team up once again with Optimum after racing with the team at Le Mans last year

Barnicoat will team up once again with Optimum after racing with the team at Le Mans last year

Photo by: Marc Fleury

Last year Project 1 fielded a single full-season Porsche for Matteo Cairoli, Egidio Perfetti and Riccardo Pera, the crew placing fourth in the GTE Am points with a best finish of second at Portimao.

The team won the GTE Am class at Le Mans in 2019 with Jorg Bergmeister, Patrick Lindsey and Egidio Perfetti after the Riley Ford GT that had crossed the line first was disqualified for a technical infringement.

A 13-car GTE Am field was announced by the WEC earlier this month, while Corvette Racing has committed to joining Porsche and Ferrari in the GTE Pro class.

The 2022 season gets underway with the 1000 Miles of Sebring on 18 March.

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