James Kellett got his maiden Ginetta GT5 Challenge campaign off to a fantastic start at Oulton Park International Circuit on Saturday, 4th April, with two victories from three races for Total Control Racing – and it could realistically have been a perfect hat-trick.
While an unfortunate spin from the lead group late in round one led to a frustrating retirement, Kellett starred in races two and three. Callum Pointon, meanwhile, delivered two terrific podium finishes in rounds one and three and team-mate Ian Robinson took a best finish of seventh place on his return to racing after almost 20 years away.
Further south at Brands Hatch in Kent over Easter weekend, TCR’s Ginetta Junior Championship team also got its 2015 season underway and car racing rookie Cameron Roberts secured a great ninth place result in the second of the event’s two races. Fellow rookie Dave Wooder and second year racer Matt Chapman each endured misfortune which limited their points scoring potential.
Kellett and Pointon start season with deserved silverwareIn the Ginetta GT5 Challenge, Kellett got his maiden weekend in the category off to an ideal start in the damp qualifying session with pole position, while team-mates Pointon and Robinson started fourth and 12th on the grid respectively for race one of the year.
No sooner had the action begun, the race was red flagged following an unfortunate multi-car collision in the mid-pack at the exit of Old Hall. At the re-start, Kellett slipped to second place off the line but battled back into the lead on the opening lap. Pointon held onto his top four placing, running closely behind the lead trio, while Robinson progressed smartly into the top 10.
With the leaders trading positions, Pointon looked poised to pounce and on the second tour he confirmed his pace with fastest lap. Into the fourth tour, Kellett ran in second place – having taken fastest lap himself – with Pointon still fourth, but as the field headed out of Lodge at the end of the lap Kellett’s car got out of shape and he ended up in the barriers.
Pointon, therefore, inherited third place for a terrific podium but team-mate Robinson had similar fortunes to Kellett. Having worked his way into ninth place on lap two, a great performance, he was forced out following a tangle.
For round two, Kellett was determined to make amends and starting on pole he was in the perfect place to do something about it. Maintaining first place ahead of Stewart Linn, the latter stayed within striking distance and on the seventh tour he passed the TCR driver. Not done, Kellett hit-back into the last corner on the eighth and final lap to take his maiden Ginetta GT5 Challenge win.
While Pointon’s hopes of a second podium in as many races went awry on lap one following contact, he battled back superbly after a pit-stop to finish round two in 11th position. Robinson, meanwhile, enjoyed a superb race and sliced his way through from 12th place into seventh position at the finish.
For the third race, Kellett again started at the head of the grid but was elbowed down to third on the first lap and had to work hard in his quest for another victory. Moving into second on lap two, midway through the 10 lapper he grabbed the lead and pulled away to a dominant five second win.
Pointon was similarly impressive and after starting in 11th, as per his finishing position from race two, the Staffordshire driver scythed his way through into the top four and then capped a great drive by taking third place on the final lap at the expense of Luca Hirst. Although Robinson was elbowed down 12th on lap one, he recovered strongly to cap a great weekend with seventh place.
“Challenge has been awesome this weekend, it’s what we expected with two strong drivers like James and Callum in the team”, said TCR’s Lee Brookes, “It should have been three wins, but we’ll take the two and we’ve been impressed with Ian too – he achieved much more than we thought he would after so long away from racing.”
Roberts top 10 on Junior debut as Wooder and Chapman rue misfortuneIn Ginetta Junior at Brands Hatch, qualifying was unbelievably close with Chapman the quickest of TCR’s trio. Despite being only 0.148 seconds shy of pole, he had to settle for eighth on the grid for race one with Wooder – who led the way in morning practice – 10th fastest, a mere 0.035 seconds slower, and Roberts, who had his best time disallowed for a track limits indiscretion, 16th.
Each of the team-mates endured a tough opening to round one, losing a handful of places, but by the end of lap two Chapman was back up into ninth. Nudged back a spot on the next tour, he was then edged down to 11th by team-mate Wooder who mounted a fightback from 14th on lap one.
As Wooder continued his resurgence by moving into ninth soon after, Chapman was edged back to 11th place but both lost ground before the conclusion on lap 10 with Wooder finishing just outside the top 10 in 11th and Chapman taking 13th place. Roberts, meanwhile, was elbowed down to 19th position at the beginning and although regaining a couple of places he ended the race in 18th spot.
Sunday’s second round proved frustrating for both Wooder and Chapman but the latter did a superb job of avoiding a major accident with his fellow TCR racer. After a multi-car tangle at the first corner, the original race was red flagged which undid a great start for Chapman.
With Wooder lining back up in 11th position and Chapman 13th for the re-start, neither got the best of getaways at the second time of asking with Wooder slipping down to 16th and Chapman almost stalling before ending lap one in 18th position.
Wooder, in particular, made a strong recovery and by the start of the fourth tour he was up into 11th place and racing very well indeed. Into ninth on lap five, the car racing newcomer belied his lack of experience but the next time around, at Paddock Hill Bend, a spin – after his bonnet became slightly dislodged – pitched him into the gravel and out of the race.
Chapman, who arrived on the scene in 12th place, just managed to avoid his team-mate and with very quick reactions he managed to steer around the stricken Ginetta. Although badly delayed, he did recover to finish in 19th position.
Roberts, meanwhile, enjoyed a much less fraught race and put together an impressive performance on his way to a fantastic ninth place finish to mark a hugely successful start to his maiden season in car racing.
After the aborted first start, the Ginetta Junior Scholarship runner-up made a clean launch from 18th place and by lap six he had climbed through into the top 15. Running comfortably and showing a good turn of speed, Roberts moved into 11th following the incident involving Wooder – which led to the deployment of the Safety Car – and then gained two more places before the finish on lap 11.
“All three drivers we’ve got in Ginetta Junior this year have got good pace, qualifying didn’t work in our favour and that affected the races, but we know there’s a lot more to come”, said Brookes, “In the end we didn’t get the results Dave and Matt deserved, but Cameron’s ninth place in the second race was a positive way to leave Brands Hatch. We’re confident of much more at Donington.”
Rounds three and four of the Ginetta Junior Championship season will take place at Leicestershire’s Donington Park National Circuit on 18th/19th April. The Ginetta GT5 Challenge, meanwhile, will resume at Rockingham in Northamptonshire over the weekend 2nd/3rd May.