Geri Nicosia and Ollie Chadwick took a win apiece during their guest appearances in the Protyre Motorsport Ginetta GT5 Challenge at Thruxton this weekend (06 / 07 May 2017). A mixed weekend for Lewis Brown sees him maintain the championship lead, with Stoney closing the gap to just four points.
For the GT5 Challenge crews, it was straight into qualifying on Saturday morning. All eyes were on 2016 series champion 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 shy. 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.
In the race, 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 enjoyed a race-long fight for the lead, with the latter 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 in the closing laps, whilst Zapolski managed to catch the trio on the run to the chequered flag.
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.
In the AM class, it was a race win for Richard Evans, 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.
Race two saw Chadwick make another textbook start, holding on to his lead despite a hard challenge from Nicosia into the first corner. An incident for Traves and Campbell-Smith at the Complex on lap one brought out the safety car though, and left the returning championship with it all to do again.
Chadwick held the lead as the lights returned to green at the start of lap four, with teammate Zapolski following in second position. Nicosia picked his moment though, and passed Zapolski to move into second and begin his hunt of Chadwick. He made a move stick at Church on lap seven, taking the lead of the race, much to the delight of the JHR Developments team.
Nicosia looked like he had the win in the bag, until a last minute charge from Chadwick saw the pole man retake the lead. Nicosia wasn’t going to be deterred however, and - determined to take a win on his championship debut – slid back into the lead on the run to the line.
Behind the leaders was an epic battle for fourth between newcomer Ollie Wilkinson and G40 stalwarts Lewis Brown and brothers Jonny and Ryan Hadfield. As the pack battled, Stoney closed the gap and was soon in the midst of the action, passing the Hadfield brothers to take and eventual fifth, just behind Brown.
Kudos has to go to Alex Toth-Jones. After a disappointing result in race one, he was forced to start from 22nd on the grid but a flying start to the race saw him pass nine cars on the opening lap. He continued to make progress into the top 10, until an unfortunate spin dropped him down the order to finish in an eventual P14.
It was two from two in the AM class for Richard Evans. The Quattro Motorsport driver finished in an impressive ninth overall. He was joined on the AM podium by Jarvis and Halstead who finished 22nd and 24th overall.
The drivers return to their regular place on the British GT support package on 27 / 28 May, when the Protyre Motorsport Ginetta GT5 Challenge heads to Snetterton. Provisional results and standings can be found here.