Stuart Pearson came out of a chaotic first three races of the Protyre Ginetta GT5 Challenge championship at Oulton Park, sharing the secondary G20 class wins with Brian Murphy.
Optimum Motorsport’s Pearson lay down a serious marker by beating three G40 runners as well as main rival Murphy by almost two seconds to claim the class pole position, before going on to claim the first of two wins that Saturday (March 30) at the Cheshire circuit.
Pearson survived a first-corner scuffle between the lead G40 runners at the head of the pack to ease to a comfortable class win in race one, Orwin’s Murphy surviving a late spin at Knickerbrook to finish second ahead of privateer Ian Ingram.
“It was a chaotic, classic first race of the season”, said Pearson after winning race one. “Luckily I started on pole in the G20s. It looked like an easy run but it wasn’t.”
Third place man Ingram meanwhile said: “It was a bit frantic at the start, I think I was up to about second and I thought what’s happened here? Then Stuart got past me and then I saw Brian spinning down at Knickerbrook and I thought, just give me one more lap and I could get onto the back of Brian now, but he got going again and was away.”
The second race was blighted by a first corner shunt that elminated many G20 runners after Jason Kenny lost control of his G40 at Old Hall and sent Ginettas scattering, the G20s of Mark De Spong, Jonny Greenwood, Nicholas Zapolski, Darren De Mattia and race one podium finisher Ingram all eliminated on the spot with damage, leaving just four cars to take the restart in class.
Murrphy this time got the better of Pearson in the restarted encounter and held on through G40 traffic to win the class, while an epic battle for third (and to avoid finishing last overall) was won by David Pattison ahead of Marcus Vivian.
Race three saw several hastily repaired G20 machines return to grace the Oulton Park grid, Pearson making it two from three with a controlled drive following a good getaway from the lights going out to beat main rival Murphy to the flag.
A distant third meanwhile was another great battle for the final podium spot that was won by Greenwood, who almost celebrated too soon after beating Zapolski and De Spong heading onto the final lap, the pair thankfully staying in order after realising they still had one more lap to complete.
“I got behind a load of G40s and sort of sat there and they towed me along. Once I got a gap ahead of Brian that was it, job done”, said Pearson, who leads the G20 standings after a strong first weekend of the season.
“It’s good to come back after the winter months and come away with two wins and a second with not much damage.”
After a win and two second place finishes, Murphy commented: “He promised to get me on the start [of race three] and I tried around the outside, but from then I just held a gap. I was hoping some of the G40s might slow him down or just confuse him!”
On his race three podium, Greenwood added: “A great tussle that was, fantastic“, also explaining his and his oppostition’s near mix-up at the end: “The guy stuck his arm out and starting waving the flag. I noticed all the marshalls weren’t waving so it was a bit strange, but the two guys behind me slowed down as well so we all took the chequered flag.”
Pearson’s double success and second place nets him the early G20 class championship lead, only six points clear of the equally consistent Murphy, Pattison lying 49 points behind the championship leader in third spot as the series heads to Rockingham on May 5.