Ollie Chadwick took two wins from two and celebrated his 100thGinetta career race at Brands Hatch last weekend, but it was TCR man James Kellett whose trio of podiums was enough to keep him at the head of the standings.
After qualifying side-by-side on the front row of the grid, Kellett and Chadwick kicked off the action from the moment the lights went out, the season-long battle between the championship rivals raging from the moment the cars went into Paddock Hill Bend for the first time until the flag came out.
Despite starting from pole position, Chadwick lost out to Kellett off the line but had retaken control of proceedings by the time the cars completed lap one.Having missed the championship visit to Spa Francorchamps, Ryan Hadfield was keen to garner as many points as possible, powering from fifth on the grid into third at the start and slotting in ahead of double Spa winner Pointon.
The pair traded places throughout, until contact with Luca Hirst on the closing laps sent Pointon into a spin and dropped him to sixth at the line, promoting Hirst into fourth and James Robinson into fifth. Robinson had once again enjoyed a close race with his main rivals Jack Minshaw and Nick Zapolski, but their mid-pack squabble was split by Stewart Linn before the flag.
Race two saw Chadwick hook up his start, maintaining the lead into Paddock Hill Bend for the first time and, crucially for his championship hopes, keeping Kellett behind until the flag despite a few nibbles for the position from the TCR driver.
As Pointon once again defended from Hadfield, Palmer, Linn, Hirst and Zapolski were fighting over sixth place, with Linn finishing hightest at the line, just ahead of Zapolski. Close behind, Minshaw and Simpson took ninth and tenth, with Palmer falling in behind them.
In the middle of the pack, a spin for Ian Robinson saw him make contact with the barrier and called for the deployment of the safety car. On the restart, the eagerness of the championship leader to take the win left the door open for teammate Pointon to make a move with just a few corners to run, demoting Kellett to third as the pack took the flag, and setting the grid for the final race of the weekend.
The third and final encounter signalled Chadwick’s 100thGinetta race, however it was Pointon who celebrated off the line, as he stormed into the lead as the lights went out. With Chadwick close behind, Hadfield and Kellett remained in touch with the leaders, position swapping throughout the opening two laps before the latter made a move stick on lap three.
On a roll, Kellett then passed championship rival Chadwick for third with Hadfield following him through, thus demoting the Xentek car down to fourth and into the clutches of Hirst. By lap four, Pointon, Kellett, Hadfield and Chadwick were split by just 1.177s and the race was well and truly on.
Lap six saw Kellett make a move stick on teammate Pointon, sweeping into the lead and pulling away to take a dominant first win of the weekend. Chadwick meanwhile, found a way around Pointon for second at Druids where he remained to the flag.
Behind, Hadfield spun and forced Hirst to swerve in avoidance landing him in the gravel, the incident promoting everyone up a position, handing Linn and Robinson into fourth and fifth respectively.
In GRDC+ the want2race boys dominated the opening race, finishing a comfortable 1-2 ahead of Gary Wager who secured his first podium of the season with third. Race two was a similar story, with Hyland and Keogh this time joined by Ferguson.
Although Hyland enjoyed a strong start, the appearance of the safety car left a last lap dash to the flag with the trio running nose to tail over the final few corners before Hyland took another with, less than a second ahead of rivals Hyland and Ferguson.
In race three, whilst Keogh began proceedings streets ahead of Hyland – with three GT5’s between the pair – it wasn’t long before the trio were back within touching distance and the three championship rivals fought for the best result. Taking the win this time was Keogh, just up the road from Hyland and Keogh.
Whilst the weekend hasn’t significantly increased Kellett’s lead, it was enough to ensure he still has a race in hand as the championship heads to Snetterton in three weeks’ time. We also look set to have an exciting shootout between our GRDC+ racers at their finale at Donington Park, as the next meeting doesn’t count towards their final championship tally.
Provisional standings after 15 rounds of the Protyre Motorsport Ginetta GT5 Challenge
1 KELLETT, James 461
2 CHADWICK, Ollie 419
3 POINTON, Callum 400
4 LINN, Stewart 294
5 HIRST, Luca 249
6 ZAPOLSKI, Nick 223
7 ROBINSON, James 204
8 O'BRIEN, Dan 151
9 HADFIELD, Ryan 148
10 MINSHAW, Jack 147
Provisional standings after 12 rounds of the GRDC+
1 KEOGH, Rob 372
2 HYLAND, Ben 366
3 FERGUSON, Charles 292
4 FLEMMING, Shawn 236
5 WAGER, Gary 230
6 MARSHALL, Andrew 212
7 WALL, John 159
8 BABINGTON, Chris 141
9 SINCLAIR, Keith 138
10 BRADSHAW, Andy 124