3rd June 2024

Nicholas And Shaw Enjoy GT Academy Donington Success

Nicholas And Shaw Enjoy GT Academy Donington Success

James Nicholas took a double victory and Luke Shaw celebrated a maiden win during a thrilling weekend of Ginetta GT Academy racing at Donington Park in May.

Shaw (Raceway Motorsport) was quickest of all in pre-event testing. He converted that pace into a brilliant maiden pole position on Saturday. A dramatic conclusion to qualifying saw him pip Nicholas (W2R) to top spot with his final lap of the session.

Nicholas did emerge with pole for race two though, with Shaw once again sharing the front row with him. Mike Taylor posted the third fastest time overall ahead of his W2R team-mates Thomas Balfe and Amy Tomlinson, who took seasons’ best qualifying results in fourth and fifth respectively.

A dramatic start to the opening race saw contact between Taylor and Nicholas at Redgate corner lead to retirement for the latter, while behind further incidents resulted in a number of cars stranded on and off circuit. After a red flag stoppage, the race restarted with all remaining drivers back on the grid.

Shaw benefitted from the empty space alongside him on the rolling start to maintain his advantage through Redgate for the first time, with Taylor briefly running second before his race ended due to damage sustained in the original start incident.

After swapping places back and forth on lap one, Balfe settled into second ahead of Amy Tomlinson. Harry Gamble (Elite Motorsport) dropped back at the start of the lap. But, he fought back and regained the lost ground to slot into fourth, before passing Tomlinson next time round. Gareth Thomas (W2R) was the next rookie on the move as he got ahead of Marc Elman (SVG Motorsport). Tomlinson left those two to enjoy an exciting three-way contest with fellow GTA class contender Julian Wantling (E3 Sport).

Their battle culminated in a dramatic moment at the Melbourne hairpin as Tomlinson spun from the lead. Directly behind, Wantling had just passed Elman for second before losing the spot back as he avoided the spinning car ahead.

At that moment the red flags came out again though after an incident behind them at Coppice. With the race not resuming, the result was counted back a lap meaning Amy Tomlinson ended up credited with a maiden Ginetta class win ahead of Elman, Wantling and her sister Emma Tomlinson. Ahead, Shaw had led from start-to-finish to secure a breakthrough victory in the championship. Balfe posted the fastest lap of the race in pursuit as he secured his first Ginetta podium, with Gamble completing the rookie top three. Thomas was fourth on the road, however a two-place penalty dropped him behind Tomlinson and Elman.

Fifth of the rookies meanwhile in ninth overall was Peter Thompson (W2R), while Jamie Caudle (E3 Sport) marked his championship debut with a top ten finish. Ali Al Juffali (Elite Motorsport) and W2R pair Lucy Tomlinson and Lucie Hodgson completed the race finishers.

Nicholas was able to bounce back perfectly from his race one disappointment with victory in the second encounter. The inaugural winner of the PalmerSport Ginetta Scholarship led away from pole. He successfully negotiated a safety car restart en-route to victory. Shaw kept him honest throughout as he finished second. Taylor recovered well from his tough opening race to complete the podium. A first lap move on Balfe into Coppice ultimately netted Gamble fourth place. Gareth Thomas followed through for fifth.

A spin on the first lap for Amy Tomlinson opened the door for Elman to take the GTA class win ahead of Wantling. Emma Tomlinson completed the class podium in tenth overall. She finished behind a driver hugely impressing on his first ever car-racing weekend, Caudle. Nicholas and Shaw led the field away at the start of the final race late on Sunday afternoon. An early move at the Old Hairpin from Gamble secured him third at the expense of Taylor, who also lost out to Gareth Thomas through the opening lap.

Gamble set his sights on Shaw for second and was challenging for the position. However, a slide wide for both at McLeans allowed Thomas to pounce and pass them both. A tough lap for Shaw culminated in him slipping to fifth as Gamble and Taylor got ahead too. Whilst Nicholas cruised home to his fifth win of the season. Gamble pulled off one more move on the penultimate lap to secure second place. Thomas was set for third before a last lap mistake at the Old Hairpin allowed Taylor through to complete the podium.

Shaw and Balfe completed the top six overall ahead of Elman, who doubled his GTA class win tally for the day. Wantling and Emma Tomlinson enjoyed some side-by-side racing in the early stages. They both picked up GTA silverware, sandwiching Caudle in the final result. Paul Thomas (W2R) was close behind as he finished 11th for the second consecutive race. His team-mate Charlotte Lowe’s return to the championship would unfortunately end in retirement.

In the Chairmans Cup, Wantling took a clean sweep of victories to make it eight class podiums from eight races so far this season. Hodgson took home three trophies as well, while Thompson also collected silverware.

Full race results can be found at: www.tsl-timing.com/event/242105
The three races can be watched back at: www.youtube.com/user/ginettatv

Anglesey is the next destination for the Ginetta GT Academy field. Teams will race as part of the G Fest event in Wales (29/30 June).


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