Promoted: Jack Butel targets British GT success with Optimum, Aston
|Friday, February 1st 2019, 08:53 GMT|
Jack Butel has his sights set on success in British GT this season as he prepares to move into the series with reigning champions Optimum Motorsport and Aston Martin.
The former LMP3 Cup driver, who finished fourth overall in the standings alongside team-mate Dominic Paul in 2018, has graduated to one of the UK's most prestigious championships and with one of its most successful teams in recent years.
Optimum secured GT3 honours with Flick Haigh and Jonny Adam in 2018 and the GT4 title in '16 with Graham Johnson and Mike Robinson.
Butel believes he is well placed with the squad to continue that success, hoping he and team-mate Connor O'Brien can capitalise on the new Aston Martin Vantage GT4 Optimum will run this season.
"We need to prove ourselves but I have full confidence in the team and Connor that we're going to be successful," says the 22-year-old.
"I think if you don't aim for success there's no point in racing if you're out there just puttering around, it's not where we want to be and I'm of the mindset to go out there and win."
It is a bold statement from the Jerseyman, who only three months ago was planning to race LMP3 machinery again until he was offered a test by Optimum in an old-spec Aston Martin Vantage GT4, where he impressed in a handful of laps.
"We didn't think anything of getting to British GT this season, but an opportunity came up with backing from Optimum Motorsport and Aston Martin and they offered us to go try the car at Oulton Park last November," said Butel.
"We only did 17 laps and it was wet but we ended up being only two seconds off the GT4 driver that was there and had done British GT the last four, five years.
"After that Shaun [Goff, team principal] said 'would you like a drive with Connor?' and I decided there and then, it wasn't a long decision.
"The backing of Aston Martin put my mind at ease, and to have that backing will help me in the long-term."
It is the chance of a lifetime for Butel who will also attempt to join the Aston Martin Racing Young Driver Academy, which was relaunched for 2019 and aims to bring in the best young talent and promote them into factory drives.
Having no previous experience of GT racing until those few wet laps at Oulton, Butel joined Optimum for the Dubai 24 Hours earlier this month in a Ginetta G55 GT4.
The car led early on with Butel at the wheel but a crash during the night meant the crew could only salvage 37th overall but it proved to be a valuable experience for Butel.
"It was definitely good preparation, I'd not driven a GT car before apart from those 17 laps at Oulton, that was the first time I'd been in a GT car," he says.
"It was getting used to the team as well, it's a brand new team for me and you need to get used to each other.
"It showed that although I've not got much GT experience what I did I think proved a lot, it proved to the team I can race with some high-class drivers."