For the Protyre Motorsport Ginetta GT5 Challenge crews, it was straight into qualifying around the 2.4 mile circuit. All eyes were on 2016 series champion Ollie Chadwick, who was the favourite to take pole position in the familiar car and surroundings.
However, it was his Xentek Motorsport teammate Nick Zapolski – who finished on the podium here last year - who took the eventual pole position, with an impressive 1:24.120s.
Chadwick wasn’t far behind though, missing out on pole position by just 0.038s with Ginetta Junior graduate Lewis Brown only 0.007s behind him, Brown having taken pole position and a podium result here in the feeder series last season. The top five was rounded out by fellow Junior graduates, Seb Perez and Geri Nicosia.
Richard Evans was fastest of the AM class, the former Ginetta Racing Drivers Club member splitting the pro drivers as he qualified an eventual 14th. Next up in the AM class was Campbell-Smith with Halstead and Jarvis a little lower down, rounding out the class and the grid.
Zapolski was quick off the line but Chadwick stuck with him and the pair begun to trade places on the opening two laps. Zapolski hung on to the early advantage but dropped down to fourth as the race continued, thus handing second to Nicosia, with Wilkinson moving into third.
Chadwick and Nicosia then enjoyed a race-long fight for the lead with Nicosia trying everything in his power to get past the Xentek Motorsport car. Chadwick’s years of experience behind the wheel of the G40 played into his hands though, with the outgoing champion hanging on to the win. The battle between the leaders brought Wilkinson into the fight for the lead in the closing laps, whilst a recovering Zapolski managed to catch the trio on the closing lap, setting the stage for an epic drag race to the line.
It was a race win for Richard Evans in the AM class, with rival Adrian Campbell-Smith finishing in second. The Ginetta Racing Drivers Club graduates mixed it with the PRO drivers and enjoyed some great racing in the midfield.
After a torrid qualifying, Ryan Hadfield enjoyed the best start of the field, climbing an impressive eight places on the opening lap. He continued his momentum to finish an eventual 11th. A similar story for Katie Milner saw her pick up six places on the opening lap, but her progress was thwarted after action with Alex Toth-Jones dropped both drivers to the back of the pack.