OLNEY racer Joe Osborne enjoyed the perfect start to his 2012 season with a victory in the prestigious Dubai 24 hour race last weekend.
The 22 year-old shared the driving duties with three team-mates and was driving a very familiar car, the British built Ginetta G50 in which he won the European GT4 championship in 2009.
There were over 70 cars on the grid as Osborne started the race at 2pm, by which time the mercury had risen to 32°C, with the cockpit temperature hitting the mid 50s.
With 20 cars in the same class and 40 faster cars racing in other classes, the challenge facing Osborne and his team was significant.
As the lights turned to green on the seventh running of the Dubai 24 hour race, Osborne made up eight places on the first lap putting him on the rear bumper of the class leader the Lotus Evora GT4.
The next five hours proved to be a real roller coaster ride as the car was involved in two accidents which were fortunately not significant and the team managed to repair the damage quickly.
At the worst point in the race the car had dropped to 55th place overall and 10th in class. But with those incidents behind them, Osborne and the team’s other three drivers – George Murrels, Lee Mowle and Gary Simms – started to put in some quick and consistent lap times and slowly the no 116 Ginetta G50 started to climb the timing screens.
By the early hours of the morning the remarkable climb had seen the car establish a six lap lead in their class and claim 20th position overall.
The Optimum Motorsport run car continued to run faultlessly with a pit stop every one hour and 45 minutes for a driver change and refuelling.
As the car finished its 560th lap of the Dubai Autodrome the team claimed victory by 11 laps over the 2nd placed Black Falcon BMW M3, and 19 laps over the 3rd placed GC Automobile squad to give them an impressive 14th place finish overall.
“I can’t quite believe it. We really have caused an upset here – a small team with an unproven car,” said Osborne.
“The win was defiantly a team effort, the guys did an amazing job with the repairs that kept us in the race. I don’t think they made one mistake in any of the 15 pit stops.
“The other drivers were perfect. The win is a perfect catalyst to kick start my 2012 season and now I can’t wait for my next race.”