After impressing across the opening two events with five podium finishes from five races, Will Aspin (Elite Motorsport) enjoyed another milestone moment in the championship on Saturday as he stormed to a maiden Ginetta pole position in qualifying.
It was a breakthrough session for two other drivers as well. Will Orton (Alastair Rushforth Motorsport) finished second quickest, his best result of the season so far, while Ben McKenna (Xentek Motorsport) started his debut weekend in the series in a superb third.
Bennett (Elite Motorsport) was fourth quickest ahead of Steed (Xentek Motorsport). Whilst both lower than hoped on the grid for race one, regular service was resumed on second best times with Steed securing pole for race two alongside his title rival.
A lightning launch from Orton propelled him into the lead at the start of race one on Sunday morning, while it was three abreast for second behind heading into Maggots. McKenna emerged in front and then stormed down the inside of Orton at Stowe for the race lead.
It was Aspin’s turn to take the race lead into Brooklands on lap two however, while Bennett was briefly up to third before losing ground to Orton and Steed in a mammoth battle. The latter was the man on the move, getting ahead of Orton and then McKenna for second by the end of lap five.
That kick-started an incredible three-way battle for victory between Aspin, Steed and McKenna. They ran three abreast into Brooklands on lap six, with Steed emerging in the lead, before McKenna pulled off his own double move to regain the advantage into Stowe on the next lap.
Unfortunately the action was halted by the emergence of the safety car, which ultimately led into a red flag finish. Aspin has moved into the lead before the finish, but was deemed to have overtaken under the safety car and handed a time penalty.
Steed was therefore declared the race-winner, his fourth success of the season, with McKenna completing a sensational debut in second. Aspin was classified third in the end to continue his 100% podium record, with Orton battling well to a seasons’ best fourth place.
Harley Haughton (Elite Motorsport) converted a highest qualifying result so far of sixth to a fifth place finish ahead of a trio of Race Car Consultants cars. Magnus Kriklywi and Nat Hodgkiss were in the lead pack throughout, while David Ellesley came through from 13th on the grid to eighth.
Mikey Doble (Xentek Motorsport) enjoyed his fair share of wheel-to-wheel racing en-route to ninth, while Bennett unfortunately slipped back from the podium battle to tenth. Hot on his heels was Owen Hizzey (SVG Motorsport) and then TCR duo Haytham Qarajouli and Will Rochford.
The second race of the weekend started with Bennett taking advantage of the inside line heading into Copse for the first time to take the race lead from Steed. The pole-sitter lost further ground over the lap, with McKenna and Aspin getting ahead before an early safety car period.
After the restart, an eight car train formed at the front of the field. Bennett was shuffled back to third at one stage, with McKenna and then Aspin enjoying spells in the lead. The latter unfortunately spun out of contention soon after, with Bennett rising to the fore again.
That would be how it stayed for the closing laps of the race, as he soaked up pressure and held on for a third win of the 2021 season so far. Steed followed him home for second, ensuring he remains as championship leader, while McKenna added a second podium to his debut tally.
Ellesley produced one of the performances of the race to go from 11th on the grid to the podium battle before he unfortunately spun down the order. Haughton was another to drop out of the lead pack late on, with Kriklywi benefitting to finish a seasons’ best fourth.
After being caught up in a first lap incident that dropped him to 11th, Doble fought back well to fifth ahead of Connor Grady (Alastair Rushforth Motorsport), who retired early in race one. Haughton, Ellesley and Aspin recovered to seventh, ninth and tenth respectively meanwhile.
Splitting them was Qarajouli, who impressed to rise from 16th on the grid to eighth place at the finish, while Aidan Hills (Hills Motorsport) picked up an 11th position to cap off his debut weekend. Ignazio Zanon (Raceway Motorsport) was unfortunate to suffer a DNF in both races.
The Protyre Motorsport Ginetta GT5 Challenge continues in two weeks’ time alongside the Ginetta GT Academy at Donington Park (10/11 July).
Full race results for the weekend can be found here: https://www.tsl-timing.com/event/212505
Find out more about the championship’s title sponsor, Protyre Motorsport, at https://www.protyre.co.uk/