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McKenna And Albutt Taste 2019 GT5 Challenge Title Glory

17th September 2019 • Simon Paice

Scott McKenna and Dale Albutt have been crowned the 2019 Pro and Am class champions respectively in the Protyre Motorsport Ginetta GT5 Challenge following a thrilling season finale at Donington Park (14/15 September).

While McKenna (Xentek Motorsport) and Albutt (Quattro Motorsport) took the main prizes, it was Geri Nicosia (Quattro Motorsport) and Gordie Mutch (Fox Motorsport) who ended the campaign with overall race wins, while Bal Sidu (Declan Jones Racing), Wesley Pearce (Elite Motorsport) and Albutt shared the Am Class spoils.

The weekend began with a perfect qualifying session for the Fox Motorsport team on Saturday morning, as Mutch and James Townsend secured double pole positions in the Pro and Am classes respectively ahead of the two class leaders McKenna and Albutt.

Mutch’s pole meant he ended the campaign with the best qualifying average on the grid, however his advantage was short-lived in the opening race. McKenna stormed around the outside at the chicane on lap one, before Nicosia seized the advantage into Redgate on lap two.

The action was then halted though as the safety car appeared on track. The cause was a multi-car incident at Coppice corner, which ended the races of four drivers including Am Class title contenders Wesley Pearce (Elite Motorsport) and James Townsend (Fox Motorsport).

With the remainder of the race taking place behind the safety car, it was Nicosia that came through for his third win of the season. Second place was enough to secure McKenna the title with two races to spare, and with it the Teams’ Championship for Xentek Motorsport.

Josh Steed (Mutation Motorsport) rose from sixth to a maiden podium ahead of Mutch, Josh Malin (Richardson Racing) and Ryan Firth (Reflex Racing), the latter having joined Steed in enjoying a season’s best qualifying. Matt Maxted (Graves Motorsport) rose three places to seventh ahead of Adam Smalley (Elite Motorsport) and Will Dyrdal (Quattro Motorsport).

After narrowly avoiding the incident that claimed his title rivals, Albutt came through to third position in the Am Class to secure the title. Ahead, Sidhu celebrated a superb maiden class victory ahead of Phil McGarty (GBR).

The first of two races on Sunday featured a gap at the front of the grid, with McKenna electing to sit out the remaining races. That opened the door for Nicosia to make a superb start from the second row to storm past poleman Mutch for the race lead.

A fast-starting Malin rose from ninth on the grid to third ahead of Maxted and Abbi Pulling (Race Car Consultants) as the race headed into a safety car period. When the action resumed, there was a quick change in that pack as Connor Grady (TCR) got ahead of Pulling.

At the front, Mutch briefly got the race lead off Nicosia on the penultimate lap, but Nicosia worked his way back past to get the race win. Mutch and Malin completed the podium, while Maxted secured a seasons’ best fourth ahead of Grady and Pulling.

Alistair Barclay (SVG Motorsport) was an impressive seventh on his first outing of the season, while Charlie Budd (Privateer) picked up a best result of the campaign behind. After a trip through the gravel on lap one, Firth fought back to ninth ahead of Daniel Budd (Privateer), who got a maiden top ten result. Magnus Kriklywi (Race Car Consultants) picked up a weekend’s best 12th place.

Townsend led the Am Class for the majority of the race, but as he dropped back late on, Pearce came through to secure the class victory. Albutt continued his championship celebrations with second place, while McGarty made it seven podiums in the last eight races.

Like in race two, the battle for the race win in the final outing of the season boiled down to a three way battle between Nicosia, Mutch and Malin. A great start put Nicosia in front, however on lap four Mutch got down the inside at Coppice for the lead.

The trio then ran nose-to-tail for the remainder of the race. Despite a determined Nicosia and Malin piling on the pressure behind, Mutch hung for a third win of the campaign. Nicosia and Malin made it twelve and six podiums each for the year.

Another exciting, race-long three way fight took place behind for fourth place, with Firth fending off Maxted and Pulling to end the season with his best ever result. For all three drivers, top six finishes completed their strongest weekends of the campaign.

A frustrating meeting for Smalley culminated in a seventh place finish ahead of Steed, Katie Milner (Merlin International) and Danny Harrison (Mutation Motorsport). Xentek Motorsport team-mates Gus Bowers and Jesse Chamberlain were 12th and 13th respectively, while stablemate Chris Threadgill enjoyed a best finish of 14th on his debut in race two.

Scott McKenna – 2019 Ginetta GT5 Challenge Champion: “Words can’t describe it. Three years have made up to this and without my family there and my sponsors, we would not be here. I can’t explain to you how much it means to all of us. Thank you to Xentek Motorsport for all their support. It’s truly been an amazing season and it’s an honour to be champion.”

Dale Albutt – 2019 Ginetta GT5 Challenge ‘Am Class’ Champion: “It’s a massive relief to be crowned champion. It was quite a stressful time with the long break after Snetterton, but it came together for us in the opening race. The whole team has been pushing me all season and now it’s paid off. I’m truly delighted to take the title.” The Protyre Motorsport Ginetta GT5 Challenge will return in 2020, with the provisional calendar now released: https://www.ginetta.com/news/provisional-calendars-announced-for-2020-ginetta-season