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Ladell Leads After Action-Packed Brands Hatch Opener

8th April 2018 • Ruth Harrison-Davies

Charlie Ladell leaves Brands Hatch with a three-point advantage at the top of the Michelin Ginetta GT4 SuperCup standings table, after a podium lockout - including two wins – started his season off in style.

As the first race of the season got underway in Kent, the action was short-lived after an incident between Angus Fender (who had qualified second on his graduation from the Protyre Motorsport Ginetta GT5 Challenge), Grahame Tilley and Adam Shepherd brought out the red flags.

On the restart, Ladell made the most of having the front row to himself, streaking into the lead as Boardley slotted into second and King to third. The trio enjoyed a lonely race up front and stayed in that order until the flag. Behind though, there was much more action.

In the fight for fourth, Somerfield held firm over a challenging Roche and Hibbert. On the penultimate lap, Gordon-Colebrooke and Constable were in on the action, and it was soon three abreast into Paddock Hill Bend. Somerfield finished in fourth, but Hibbert passed Roche to round out the top five.

In the Am class, Michael Crees took the win on the track, but was handed a five second time penalty following contact with Minshaw at the start. As a result, Crees took a respectable second in class after swapping his G40 Club car for the G55 GT4 powerplant. The penalty promoted Minshaw to the race with, with Taylor joining the pair on the podium.

Weather conditions took a turn for the worse ahead of Sunday’s opening race. Overnight rain and chilly temperatures left the circuit in a precarious condition and made for an action-packed race. Off the line, Ladell made the perfect start to pull away at the head of the pack as those behind (Boardley, Hibbert, Somerfield and Roche) jostled for second place as King fell down the order.

By lap five, things boiled over and contact between Hibbert and Roache left them both in the gravel, bringing out the safety car for the first time. The restart was clean as all cars kept their distance (and position) as things got back underway.

Following a second short safety car period, Ladell started to see Boardley in his mirrors for the very first time. As conditions worsened and various G55’s fell victim to the gravel traps though, Boardley settled for second where he remained until the flag. Constable tried to challenge King for third in class but thought better and settled for fourth at the flag.

In the Am class, Minshaw headed Crees at the start, but the positions were swapped after just a handful of laps where Crees remained until the flag. There was a great battle for third in class between Minshaw, Brooks and Taylor, but contact with the barriers for Taylor on the run to Graham Hill Bend left him out of the race and brought about a second safety car. At the end, it was a win for Crees with Minshaw in second and Lee Frost in third on his debut weekend. White meanwhile picked up five positions on lap one, but problems during the race left him as a non-finisher. 

The reverse grid draw put Andrew Gordon-Colebrook (Pro) and Lucky Khera (Am) on pole position for the final race of the weekend. It wasn’t to be for Gordon-Colebrook though, as some serous wheelspin off the line saw him drop to sixth after the opening lap as King led from Boardley, Ladell, Shield and Constable.

King’s lead was short-lived though, as a 10s penalty for a false start was applied and dropped him to eleventh, handing the lead to Boardley from Ladell and Constable. As the race progressed, King was on maximum ‘damage limitation attack’ and held the lead on the road, which, by the flag had seen him recover to seventh.

Contact between Am class rivals Crees and Taylor saw the latter stuck in the gravel trap and brought about the safety car. Following the restart, Crees made slow progress up the order, first passing White and then Minshaw for the class lead after a fantastic battle between the pair.

Carl Shield – who had started on the front row – made a move on Constable to step up to fourth overall with just four laps to go, where he remained to the flag. On the final lap though, Ladell who remained in second after failing to find a way past leader Boardley, was handed a five second penalty for track limits, demoting him to third overall, and promoting Roche into second.

Following the race, the contact between Crees and Taylor was investigated and the race winner was handed a time penalty, dropping him to fourth in the Am Class results.

The Michelin Ginetta GT4 SuperCup action will continue in a fortnight’s time as we head to Donington Park on 28/29 April.