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Preview: Ginetta GT5 Challenge, Round Five, Zandvoort

2nd July 2019 • Simon Paice

The fifth round of the 2019 Protyre Motorsport Ginetta GT5 Challenge season sees the championship return to Zandvoort in Holland this weekend (06/07 July).

Settled in between sand dunes on the North Sea coast, Zandvoort has always produced fantastic Ginetta racing in the past, with the GT5 Challenge last visiting in 2017. This year’s races will form part of the British Racing Festival event, with the Ginetta G40 Cup also in action.

Scott McKenna (Xentek Motorsport) heads across the North Sea in possession of the championship lead following a superb couple of meetings. A double winner at Silverstone, he followed that up with a third successive victory last time out at Donington Park to move to the top of the points.

Leading the chasing pack is reigning Ginetta Junior champion Adam Smalley (Elite Motorsport), who started the season in style with three victories in the opening five races and has confirmed his title contender status with regular podium finishes since.

Gordie Mutch (Fox Motorsport) has fought his way into contention and picked up his second win of the campaign last time out, while Josh Malin (Richardson Racing) has been a revelation in his maiden season and secured a breakthrough victory at Donington Park.

Connor Grady (Total Control Racing) has put in a superbly consistent season so far, joining McKenna as the only drivers on the grid to have finished every race so far in the top ten. He’s a double podium finisher so far, as is his team-mate Ruben Del Sarte.

Two drivers to watch this weekend will be Geri Nicosia (Quattro Motorsport), whose tally of seven podium finishes so far is more than anyone else on the grid, and Danny Harrison (Mutation Motorsport), who enjoyed a maiden podium success at Silverstone.

The fiercely competitive midfield features a number of drivers who have the potential to challenge for the top six and silverware. That pack includes Gus Bowers and Sami Saarelainen, who are running with current teams’ standings leaders Xentek Motorsport.

Will Dyrdal (Privateer) is keen to build on his best weekend of the season so far with a triple top ten at Donington Park, while Josh Steed (Mutation Motorsport) made a huge impression in Leicestershire with his speed and race craft in only his second meeting in the series.

Katie Milner (Merlin International) hopes circuit experience can aid her challenge for the top six, as she is one of only two drivers on the grid that raced at Zandvoort the last time the championship visited in 2017, alongside reigning Am Class champion Nick Halstead (Fox Motorsport).

Race Car Consultants head to Holland with three drivers capable of strong results in Josh Hislop, David Ellesley and Abbi Pulling, while Ashley Marshall (Merlin International) made a strong return to the series at Donington Park with a pair of top ten results.

19 different drivers have finished in the top ten across the opening eight races, including privateer entrants Matt Maxted and Lewis Ryder. Aiming to join them is Jesse Chamberlain (Xentek Motorsport) and privateer siblings Charlie and Daniel Budd.

It’s not just at the front of the grid where the battles for the podium have been hotly-contested. The competitive Am Class has produced its fair share of great racing as well, with Dale Albutt (Quattro Motorsport) continuing his reign at the top of the class standings.

While debutant Daniel Morris stole the headlines at Donington Park with three wins, his guest driver status meant he didn’t collect points. Albutt therefore picked up a fourth maximum score of the season alongside two more pieces of silverware.

A run of eight consecutive podium finishes has helped him to a 39 point lead at the moment, with that consistency proving key as both of his chief title rivals Wesley Pearce (Elite Motorsport) and James Townsend (Fox Motorsport) have each suffered two retirements already.

With eight races still to go this season though, the title fight has plenty more twists and turns to come. Pearce and Townsend will be going to Zandvoort determined to reduce the deficit and add to their respective three and one class victories so far this season.

Phil McGarty (GBR) has shown consistent progress through the season and was rewarded with a second podium finish so far at Donington Park. He was joined in the team that weekend by debutant Gareth John, who is back for more this weekend.

You can follow the action across the meeting on social media, @GinettaCars. More information on the event, including the timetable, can be found at http://www.britishracefestival.nl/en/