Reigning GT3 Drivers’ champions Optimum Motorsport will remain in British GT’s senior class this season after upgrading to Aston Martin’s new-for-2019 V8 Vantage GT3.

Silver-Silver pairing Ollie Wilkinson and 2007 champion Bradley Ellis have been charged with defending the title won by Optimum’s previous Pro/Am line-up of Flick Haigh and Jonny Adam.

The duo spent last season competing with Optimum in International GT Open, a series they will also tackle together in 2019 aboard the same Aston Martin.

As well as targeting overall success, FIA driver gradings allow the duo to compete for GT3 Silver Cup honours against Team Parker’s Ryan Ratcliffe and Glynn Geddie. Both cars will also carry additional ballast to correct their natural advantage over Pro/Am crews.

Wilkinson has remained with Optimum since making his racing debut in the 2016 Ginetta GT5 Challenge. A first full-season effort saw him finish third the following year before graduating to GT Open with an Audi R8 LMS GT3 in 2018.

“To be making my British GT debut partnering a former champion is an exciting prospect in only my third year of racing,” he said. “The more I drive in top level competition the more I learn, so taking on this top championship in the new Aston Martin Vantage GT3 as a Silver-Silver pairing for the first time will be a mega new challenge.”

Meanwhile, Ellis returns to the championship for his first full-season effort since finishing third in 2014’s GT4 standings. His crowning achievement remains winning the overall GT3 crown in 2007 with Team RPM’s Viper Competition Coupe.

“I am looking forward hugely to returning to British GT,” said the 31-year-old, whose last British GT appearance also came with Optimum in 2017. “This paddock is always welcoming but the friendly atmosphere is just a big cover up for how fierce the competition is. Myself and Ollie are under no illusion on how tough it’s going to be, especially with the Silver Cup additional ballast to slow us down, but we are looking forward to the season ahead.”

Team principal Shaun Goff added: “2018 was superb for us as we adapted to and showed our engineering strengths from the very start of the season. We went up against some very tough competition running the same equipment as us and, over the season, our consistency and speed paid dividends.

“2019 brings a new chapter for us with the new GT3 car and again we expect it to be a very tough battle in such a competitive championship. It’s a new championship for Ollie and we can’t forget that this is just his second full season at this level and that he’s still learning. Together with Bradley – who has tasted championship success in British GT – they have already proved to be a winning combination in GT Open, so even with the Silver-Silver disadvantages in terms of ballast, we look forward to the new season with optimism.”