Ron and Stewart Linn enjoy GT Cup McLaren experience with Optimum Motorsport
There was a definite ‘feel good’ vibe following four rounds of the GT Cup Championship at Donington Park at the weekend where Ron and Stewart Linn successfully negotiated their way through their debut in the series in the Optimum Motorsport prepared #21 McLaren 570S GT4.
It was a steep learning curve for the father-son combination as they competed in the highly competitive GTH class, making gains session by session to ultimately take the chequered flag seventh in the final race.
The pairing tested their Poorboy’s World McLaren on Thursday ahead of their debut, with former Ginetta racer Ron charges with the hot seat on Saturday where he would qualify, compete in the Sprint race alone and then start the Pitstop round. Quite a challenge against the race regulars in the series.
Sunny conditions greeted the teams and drivers on Saturday morning but with heavy rain predicted for Sunday afternoon – which never arrived – Ron opted to conduct a bulk of the running on the Saturday with Stewart taking over on Sunday.
Practice and qualifying saw Ron 14th in the field while in the Sprint, he gained a position early on with Carl Cavers initially dropping back and found himself chasing Phillip Carter in the #14 McLaren before finishing in 12th place.
The Saturday Pitstop race began with a lap one Safety Car but once underway, Ron found himself in a Ginetta sandwich, chasing the #6, whilst fending off the #118 from behind. He pitted on lap 17, handing over to Stewart for his first race laps of the weekend and he was able to gain a position to finish Saturday in 11th.
A rain shower ahead of qualifying made for a wet session on Sunday morning, with Stewart recording the ninth-best time. It was a relatively quiet race early on, but the two laps saw impressive gains from Stewart as he moved seventh and then on the final lap chased the #90 McLaren across the line in sixth position. A post-race penalty later promoted him to a fine fifth.
The fourth and final race saw Stewart move eighth on the opening lap and by lap 12 had worked his way up to fifth before he pitted and handed over to Ron. Under pressure from the outset, Ron steered clear of any potential dangers to finally bring the #21 home in seventh place.
This capped off a fine debut for the pairing, going up against drivers who compete in this championship week in, week out and while this event was always going to be a one-off, it certainly rekindled the racing spirit in both drivers.
Ron Linn said: “That was enjoyable, especially the second race on Sunday where Stewart had built up quite an advantage for me and did really well.
"If he was in the car regularly, he would be able to compete at the front, so for me, that was a pleasure to see.
"Optimum Motorsport of course did a fine job in the preparation of the car. I am more used to turning up at a circuit with a single mechanic for a track day somewhere, so a big thank you to them.”
Stewart Linn added: “Both the car and we, as drivers, got quicker as the weekend progressed and we came here to have fun over the weekend with some dad and lad racing and we certainly achieved that.
"We came into this not knowing where we would be and as we shook off the rust, we made progress. It’s the first time we have ever driven this car and it’s been great to be part of GT Cup.”
Shaun Goff, team principal with the Wakefield-based Optimum Motorsport, said: “This is a one-off for Ron and Stewart and they were here for the experience, to compete in a modern-day race car and to enjoy a good fun weekend and we’re pleased that we were able to tick those boxes for them.
"They made gains in each session and were able to compete with the championship regulars, so we couldn’t ask for more than that!”