Ginetta GT5 Challenge – Silverstone 2015
The third meeting of 2015 for the Ginetta GT5 Challenge took place at Silverstone and the famous Grand Prix circuit.
Friday 29th May was offical testing on a very wet and changeable track. The day was not the greatest of successes for the team, partly due to the weather conditions making the track very tricky, but mainly because the circuit was shared with over 50 other competitors of very different driving standards and vehicle performance, resulting in several red flags and abandoned sessions. However, some clear wet running at the end of the day showed they were on the pace and certainly James and Callum would be fighting at the front with Ian not too far behind.
Saturday 30th May was greeted to clear skies and a dry track for the 9am qualifying session. James got his weekend off to the perfect start by claiming yet another pole position for round seven, but he was run very close by Callum who ended the session just 0.070 seconds shy of his team-mate. Ian, meanwhile, had an excellent session chasing the leading pack all the way and just getting knocked down to seventh fasted on the very last lap, having been sixth for most of the session.
Saturday’s race was red flagged almost as soon as it has begun due to a multi-car incident so James and Callum, who each made great getaways, had it all to do again. Meanwhile, Ian was thanking his lucky stars as a poor start and contact through beckets had caused him to drop back. The re-started contest took place over just five racing laps and James was never challenged, getting away from pole position perfectly he held the lead from team-mate Callum and went on to secure his fifth victory of the year.
Callum managed to stay within roughly one second of James to deliver a terrific TCR one-two but for Robinson the second start didn’t work to his favour either, dropping several places through the first series of corners and then getting knocked into a spin while recovering positions. After dropping down to 28th position after this excursion, he did make an astonishing recovery and carved his way through into the top 15 during the remaining four laps with a tremendous drive.
On second best qualifying times, to set the grid for round eight, Callum bagged pole position after shading James by a mere 0.031 seconds while Ian was seventh again. Following overnight rain, Sunday morning’s race got underway on a very tricky wet track and James made the best start from the front row to leap-frog pole-sitter Callum and grab the lead on the run into Copse.
Worse was to follow for Callum when a spin at Luffield dropped him sixth, but he did battle back into the top four in double-quick time where he ultimately finished. James, reveling in the wet conditions, absolutely obliterated the opposition and went on to take his second win of the event by a huge 6.7 seconds while Ian ran in eighth until the closing stages when he leapt up into sixth, following a race long battle with 3 other competitors.
For round nine, James lined-up on pole and although maintaining an advantage into Copse at the start he was edged back to second on the run to Maggots by Ollie Chadwick. Into Becketts, though, Ollie went wide and James happily shot back past into the lead which he held all the way to the finish on lap seven. Ollie did mount a late bid, but the TCR racer had everything in control.
Callum made it back onto the podium in third place, having been in contention for the runner-up spot for most of the race. Although set to start in fourth, an excursion for a rival on the formation lap meant Callum would effectively be third on the grid and after Ollie’s excursion on lap one the TCR racer moved into second.
Maintaining the place under big pressure, Callum had some respite mid-race as the group behind squabbled but on the penultimate lap Ollie managed to nudge him back to third – Callum’s sixth podium of the season.
Sadly for Ian, the final race of the day didn’t work out as hoped. Making a better start this time and keeping with the lead pack through the first corner at Copse. A good run through Maggots and Beckett’s was essential to maintain the speed down the main straight, but a small mistake exiting Beckett’s meant the car ran wide losing time and speed, dropping Ian back to 10th position by the end of Hanger straight. Knowing he had the speed in the car to beat those around him Ian set about working his way up the field and by lap 3 he was already in 7th challenging his main rival from the previous race, Nick Zapolski for 6th place. Ian closed up throughout the lap and was able to slip stream Nick down the start and finish straight making a great move down the inside into Copse and getting his 6th place back.
Unfortunately hopes of a repeat top six result and a great end to the weekend were dashed between Copse and beckett’s when an accidental touch from Nick, trying to recover his lost position, sent Ian’s car sideways and spinning. This led to a hard contact with the wall, with the car travelling at in excess of 100mph and making contact backwards into the wall, and an unsurprising retirement with significant rear and front-end damage. He slipped to 10th in the championship as a result.
“It’s a real shame the way Ian’s weekend ended”, added Brookes, “In the first race he did a fantastic job to climb through into the top 15 and in the wet race another top six was a great result. It could easily have been the same in the third race, just really unfortunate with the contact.”
Next on the Ginetta GT5 Challenge calendar is the annual visit to Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium for rounds 10, 11 and 12 of the season on Friday 10th July, and Saturday, 11th July.