Elite Motorsport Remains to the Fore in Ginetta GT5 Challenge

Ginetta GT5 Challenge
Donington Park
July 13, 2021

2018 Season

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Elite Motorsports continues the second half of the Protyre Motorsport Ginetta GT5 Challenge early next month leading the Teams Championship by 34-points with Will Aspin and John Bennett still second and third respectively in GT5 Pro while Karim Sekkat now lies second in GT5 Am.

Aspin started third on the grid for Saturday afternoon’s Race 1 but snatched the lead at the end of the opening lap prior to a six-minute Safety Car period. Will slipped to second after running onto the grass on the start-finish straight starting lap eight moments before a Red Flag brought the race to a premature end but official results counted back to the completion of lap seven – earning Aspin his maiden GT5 victory.

Having achieved his maiden pole-position at the previous Silverstone event, Aspin followed that up with another for Sunday morning’s Race 2. Will made a great start, completing lap one with an astonishing two seconds lead and battled to keep series leader Josh Steed behind. But with five minutes remaining, Aspin succumbed to the intense pressure and was then demoted by team-mate Bennett to third-place at the Melbourne Hairpin on the last lap – the top-three covered by 1.145secs. 

Aspin grabbed P2 at the start of Race 3, went wide at McLean’s dropping to fourth, but was back up to second by lap two, subsequently having a “lonely” race to the runners-up position in the 20mins race – incredibly Will’s ninth podium from 10 races.

Bennett claimed his first pole-position of the season but completed the opening race in eighth place after understeering wide at Redgate Corner at the start. Amazingly, John had sliced his way back into third on lap two prior to the SC, into second as racing resumed then the lead when Aspin had a grassy moment. Bennett was ultimately classified second, missing out on the win by 0.018secs, incredulously the fifth time in eight races that John has won on the road only to subsequently “lose” the victory.

Delayed by either Yellow Flags or having to overtake slower cars, Bennett’s second fastest quali lap on Saturday was only good enough for a row six start in Race 2 on Sunday. But John had scythed his way into third by lap five, unbelievably snatching second place from Aspin two corners from home. Bennett, starting the final race from the front row, was forced to pit from second place at the end of the first lap with a loose bonnet after contact, making a second stop with the same issue on the following lap, before finishing 23rd – having set the race’s fastest lap.

Haughton started Race 1 in fifth, marking his best grid position of the year, found himself delayed at the start due to opening corner carnage at Redgate but recovered to a sixth place finish at the Red Flag having been demoted to ninth at the SC. Also starting from an uncharacteristic lowly starting position for Race 2 – alongside Bennett – due to Yellow Flag interruptions in quali, Harley battled his way into the top-10 after five laps but suffered a high-speed excursion at the Old Hairpin shortly afterwards when ninth. Haughton lay eighth after two laps in Race 3, despite having to avoid a stalled car on the line but visited the gravel trap on lap four after a coming together with another car, dropping to P12, but recovered well with good pace to ninth at the flag.

Harry Mangion lost the lead in the Am category in the unluckiest manner. Harry, who had scored six podiums including three victories in the opening seven races and led by 29-points, was forced to miss Donington having to self-isolate having come into contact with a person who tested positive for Covid. He will start the next Snetterton event placed fifth, now 54pts down.  

Sekkat, celebrating his 51st birthday on Saturday, lay third in class in Race 1 but had contact at the Melbourne Hairpin then later took to the grass to avoid a car re-joining the track sideways in front of him, coming home fifth. But Karim, who led the Am category briefly in Race 2, posted second places in Sunday’s two races – Sekkat now having finished Am runner-up on four occasions this season. The next Protyre Motorsport Ginetta GT5 Challenge races are staged at Snetterton over 7-8 August.

Eddie Ives, Team Owner & Manager:

“I was really pleased with our GT5 weekend at Donington. There are certainly some areas we still must neaten up but our cars looked fast all weekend. 
“I’m confident that between Will, John and Harley, they can catch the championship leader and give him a good run until the end of the season. 
“It was a shame Harry couldn’t compete this weekend at the last minute but Karim had some excellent races and collected lots of points in the races and so I was really pleased for him.  
“We’ve a bit of a break now but we will be having a busy few weeks making sure the second half of the GT5 season all goes to plan.”