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McKenna Builds Ginetta GT5 Challenge Points Lead With Zandvoort Wins

9th July 2019 • Simon Paice

Scott McKenna has strengthened his advantage at the top of the 2019 Protyre Motorsport Ginetta GT5 Challenge points standings with a pair of race victories during the championship’s flyaway meeting at Zandvoort in Holland this past weekend (06/07 July).

For the second time this season, it was Gordie Mutch (Fox Motorsport) who topped the timesheets in qualifying to secure a double pole position. His best effort was a superb six tenths of a second clear of Adam Smalley (Elite Motorsport) and McKenna (Xentek Motorsport).

An early change in the opening race on Saturday afternoon saw Smalley sweep into the race lead on the opening lap. The reigning Ginetta Junior champion went on to lead through to the finish for victory number four of the season, but it was far from easy in an incredibly competitive race.

Smalley’s mirrors were filled throughout the race by a train of Ginetta G40’s behind, with less than five seconds splitting the top eight drivers at the chequered flag. It was Mutch who led the chasing pack for the majority of the contest before a late move from McKenna earnt him second.

Mutch settled for third, while after sharing the fourth row of the grid, Geri Nicosia (Quattro Motorsport) and Josh Malin (Richardson Racing) each gained three positions to round out the top five ahead of Connor Grady (Total Control Racing).

Danny Harrison (Mutation Motorsport) and Ruben Del Sarte (Total Control Racing) completed the group of cars at the front, while Josh Steed (Mutation Motorsport) continued his impressive start in the series with ninth positon ahead of Gus Bowers (Xentek Motorsport).

Narrowly missing out on the top ten was Race Car Consultants’ Josh Hislop, who bounced back well after a difficult visit to Donington Park last time out, while his team-mate Abbi Pulling converted her best ever qualifying result into a strong 12th at the finish ahead of Will Dyrdal (Privateer).

In the hotly contested Am Class, Wesley Pearce (Elite Motorsport) topped the timesheets in qualifying and was on course for the opening win of the weekend. After leading throughout, a dramatic last lap saw him drop down the order.

James Townsend (Fox Motorsport) therefore came through with his second class win of the season so far, with points leader Dale Albutt (Quattro Motorsport) in second for his ninth podium of the campaign. Phil McGarty (GBR) joined them in collecting silverware.

The first of two races on Sunday proved to be another fiercely contested affair at the front of the field as three drivers battled for supremacy. Mutch led away from pole position, but on lap three Smalley made his move to seize the advantage and soon after McKenna grabbed second.

Only six tenths of a second split the trio at the chequered flag, with Smalley winning on the road. Post-race however a one second time penalty for causing a collision dropped him to third and promoted McKenna to the race victory ahead of Mutch.

Nicosia picked up fourth place on the opening lap and held position throughout, while from ninth at the end of lap one, Malin fought his way to fifth. Arguably the drive of the race though came from David Ellesley (Race Car Consultants), who rose from 13th on the grid to a season’s best sixth place.

Steed gained five positions through the race to finish ninth behind Harrison and Grady, while Del Sarte completed the top ten ahead of Pulling. Twelfth meanwhile went to Sami Saarelainen (Xentek Motorsport), who had Hislop and Katie Milner (Merlin International) in hot pursuit.

In the Am Class, Pearce bounced back from his race one frustration to overcome early leader Townsend and record a fourth win of the year. Behind Townsend, McGarty completed the podium again after passing Albutt on lap two, while Bal Sidhu (Declan Jones Racing) was fifth.

The race two finishing positions set the grid for the final outing of the weekend and from pole position, McKenna led the field away. Mutch was his early competition, before Smalley climbed into second and began to put the leader under pressure as the race developed.

Their superb battle for the win eventually came down to a photo-finish, with McKenna taking the spoils by just six hundredths of a second. That was his fifth win in the last eight races, meaning he now has more victories this year than any other driver on the 2019 grid.

Smalley and Mutch each took their fifth consecutive podium finish in the series as they ensured the same three drivers collected silverware in each race. Nicosia once again ran fourth throughout, while Malin emerged from an exciting duel with Ellesley with fifth place.

The remainder of the top ten was settled in the same order as race two, with Harrison leading home Grady, Steed and Del Sarte, while reigning Am Class victor Nick Halstead (Fox Motorsport) matched his best result of the season to date in 11th position.

In the battle to succeed him as champion, Pearce led in the early stages before Townsend got ahead and took a third win of the season. Second was still enough though for Pearce to close the gap on points leader Albutt, who finished fourth as McGarty completed a superb podium hat-trick.

Siblings Charlie and Daniel Budd meanwhile took best results of 16th and 19th respectively in their first meeting as part of the Elite Motorsport team, whilst Jesse Chamberlain (Xentek Motorsport) enjoyed a positive end to a difficult weekend with 18th in race three.

In four weeks’ time (03/04 August), the Protyre Motorsport Ginetta GT5 Challenge will join the support bill of the British Touring Car Championship for the second time this season as the series competes at Snetterton in Norfolk for the first time since 2015.