Three weeks’ on from their season opener at Oulton Park in support of British GT, the GT5 Challenge returned to Cheshire for the next two races of the season. This time they raced alongside the BTCC, on the shorter Island configuration of circuit.
There was no change at the top of the timesheets in qualifying though, as Malin (Richardson Racing) set the pace for a second weekend in a row to take a double pole position. The chasing pack was headed by Fox Motorsport duo Gordie Mutch and Ashley Marshall.
A textbook start to the opening race on Saturday afternoon saw Malin lead the field through Old Hall for the first time, but a slow launch had dropped Mutch to fifth. Going in the other direction was David Ellesley (Race Car Consultants), who shot forward three spaces to second.
Jonny Wilkinson (Xentek Motorsport), James Taylor (Elite Motorsport) and Mutch joined Ellesley in queueing up behind Malin over the first half of the race. Ellesley made a move for the lead on lap seven, but ended up losing time and dropping out of the podium battle.
As Malin held firm at the front, Taylor swapped places with Mutch a couple of times before going on to pressure Wilkinson in the closing stages. This gave Malin the chance to edge clear for his second win of the season, while Taylor grabbed second on the penultimate lap from Wilkinson.
Mutch had to settle for fourth, while Rory McKean (SVG Motorsport) and Magnus Kriklywi (Race Car Consultants) each gained four places across the race to finish in the top six ahead of Ellesley. Behind, a close three way battle for eighth went in the favour of John Bennett (Elite Motorsport).
Conner Garlick (Xentek Motorsport) emerged from their battle in ninth, while a late incident for Marshall dropped him back to 12th. Daniel Budd (Elite Motorsport) picked up his second top ten finish in the series ahead of Am class winner Ian Duggan (Fox Motorsport).
Richard Tetlow (Privateer) had started from the Am class pole position, but Duggan took control on lap one and led throughout. Tetlow fought back to second before unfortunately retiring, so Bal Sidhu (Xentek Motorsport) and Phil McGarty (Privateer) finished up on the podium.
The second race of the weekend took place in torrential rain on Sunday afternoon, providing quite a spectacle for the live ITV4 television audience. Malin stormed away from pole position, with another rapid start from Ellesley moving him up to second.
Mutch had eyes for that position though and tried at move at Cascades, however both drivers ended up losing ground. Wilkinson came past to lead the challenge to Malin, while Charlie Budd (Privateer) built on a best ever qualifying performance to storm into third.
As Taylor, Marshall and Bennett worked their way past Budd over the next couple of laps, ahead it became a duel for victory between Malin and Wilkinson. Running nose to tail for many laps, Wilkinson seized an opportunity on the penultimate lap with a great move at Cascades.
Two corners later though a mistake led to him running across the grass, opening the door for Malin to come back through. He went on to cement his third win of the season with the fastest lap of the race on the final tour, with Wilkinson and Taylor joining him on the podium.
Marshall and Bennett secured their seasons’ best finishes of fourth and fifth respectively, while Ellesley completed the top six. Mutch superbly recovered from last on the road at the end of lap one to seventh ahead of Garlick, McKean and Jesse Chamberlain (Xentek Motorsport).
Bouncing back from his race one troubles in style, Tetlow recorded the Am class win after narrowly beating Duggan on the run to the chequered flag. McGarty picked up a second podium of the weekend ahead of Sidhu and Karim Sekkat (Elite Motorsport).
The Protyre Motorsport Ginetta GT5 Challenge remains on the British Touring Car Championship support package next weekend for the visit to Knockhill in Scotland (29/30 August).