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McKenna And Nicosia Enjoy Snetterton Success In GT5 Challenge

6th August 2019 • Simon Paice

Championship leader Scott McKenna and Geri Nicosia have taken a win apiece in the penultimate meeting of the 2019 Protyre Motorsport Ginetta GT5 Challenge at Snetterton (03/04 August).

The GT5 Challenge made its second appearance of the season on the support bill of the British Touring Car Championship, having previously enjoyed a visit to Thruxton in May. The weekend also marked a welcome return to Snetterton, with the series having last raced there in 2015.

McKenna (Xentek Motorsport) headed into the meeting with confidence high following a double victory at Zandvoort last time out and he was immediately the pace-setter in Norfolk, posting the fastest time in official testing on Wednesday and free practice on Friday.

The Yorkshireman went on to top the timesheets again in qualifying to record his fourth pole position of the season, though he was denied a double top by Josh Malin (Richardson Racing) who took the race two pole as part of his best qualifying performance of the campaign.

The opening race of the weekend on Saturday afternoon unfortunately had to be restarted following an incident on lap two of the original start, which ended four drivers’ races. The restart grid was taken from the end of lap one, with Malin on pole having passed McKenna.

That was courtesy of a great launch off the line and a repeat performance ensured he led the field for the first two laps. McKenna made his move into the hairpin on lap three though and went on to forge a gap at the front of the field, taking a sixth win of the year by two seconds.

Malin came under increasing pressure from Nicosia (Quattro Motorsport) and Adam Smalley (Elite Motorsport) in the closing laps, with Nicosia getting ahead at Agostini on the final tour before a wide moment for Malin at Nelson as he tried to regain the place dropped him to fourth.

Katie Milner (Merlin International) emerged from a thrilling battle with Ryan Firth (Reflex Racing) to take fifth place, with the latter completing the top six for his breakthrough result in the championship. Connor Grady (TCR) fought with them early on and came home seventh.

Danny Harrison (Mutation Motorsport) put in a great drive to secure eighth place ahead of Matt Maxted (Graves Motorsport) and Charlie Budd (Elite Motorsport), who both enjoyed their best results of the season so far as they completed the top ten.

Abbi Pulling (Race Car Consultants) and Will Dyrdal (Privateer) were next, while Josh Steed (Mutation Motorsport) unfortunately slipped to 13th after running in eighth for over half the race. Gus Bowers (Xentek Motorsport) was another to drop back, finishing behind team-mate Jesse Chamberlain.

In the Am Class, Dale Albutt (Quattro Motorsport) took the class pole position but James Townsend (Fox Motorsport) got ahead of him early on and went on to take his fourth win of the campaign. Phil McGarty (GBR) joined them on the podium in third.

The second race of the meeting took place on Sunday afternoon and the class of 2019 put in a thrilling race to entertain the live ITV4 television audience and a bumper trackside crowd in Norfolk, with five cars battling for the lead throughout the 12 lap encounter.

The front five on the grid, Malin, McKenna, Nicosia, Smalley and Gordie Mutch (Fox Motorsport) commenced battle from the first corner and put in a thrilling fight for the silverware. Nicosia gained two places to get the lead on the opening lap, though poleman Malin fought back next time around. 

While Malin led the majority of the race, positions changed behind him on almost every lap. From fourth at one stage, Nicosia fought back to second and on the final tour, a superb move around the outside into Brundle corner secured him a second win of the campaign.

Malin came home second, while Mutch enjoyed a first podium finish of the weekend. Another last lap move came for fourth, as Smalley snuck ahead of McKenna. Behind, there was an incredibly close battle as a tenth of a second covered a three way photo finish for sixth place. 

Firth edged out Milner and debutant Fin Green (TCR) to complete a superb meeting with a second top six finish. Harrison battled through the competitive midfield to take ninth ahead of Grady, with Steed, Bowers and Lewis Ryder (Privateer) just missing out on the top ten.

Townsend meanwhile completed an Am Class double for the weekend, making it five wins for the year. Wesley Pearce (Elite Motorsport) led early on before a spin dropped him back to third in the final results behind class points leader Albutt.

Unfortunately missing from action on Sunday were Nick Halstead (Fox Motorsport) and Race Car Consultants duo Josh Hislop and debutant Magnus Kriklywi. All three were involved in the red flag causing incident in race one and the damage their cars sustained ruled them out of race two.

The 2019 Protyre Motorsport Ginetta GT5 Challenge season comes to a close in six weeks’ time with three races at Donington Park in Leicestershire (14/15 September).