James Kellett and Ollie Chadwick raced each other close but it was one small part failure that cost Chadwick the chance to win the Ginetta GT5 Challenge title as Kellett’s reliability kept him on the straight and narrow to the championship crown.
The two young drivers, who had near enough shared the wins between them this year – as well as Callum Pointon grabbing the spoils every now and then to keep the top two on their toes – showed that spec racing doesn’t have to be dull racing.
Going into the Easter Weekend at Oulton Park it was clear to see in qualifying that the same names were clocking fast lap after fast lap and when the dust finally settled on a shortened race one,it was Chadwick would be standing on the top step of the podium after stiff competition from then series new boy Kellett and the ever rapid Stewart Linn.
Chadwick’s luck completely changed in race two though as he was spun into the gravel and thus into retirement on the first lap of the race. That freedom allowed Kellett to also take his first win of the year, after just about surviving an almost dive-bombing lunge from Linn on the last lap to cross the line with only one-tenth in hand.
Kellett would then grab a pair in the final race of the weekend, again holding off Stewart Linn (who couldn’t keep the results up throughout the season) to stride out on his own in the points table. Chadwick would finish fourth knowing he would have to do better to close the gap up.
The challenge grid would miss the Rockingham round but it would be back for a damp Silverstone and that time off obviously allowed Kellett to get into a zen-like state as he decimated the field and took all three victories on offer. Extending a dominant lead over Chadwick and Pointon who would claim third and second respectively in race one. Chadwick would be second in race two compared to Pointon’s fourth before reversing those results in race three.
At the next round at Spa-Francorchamps, it was Pointon’s turn to be the all-conquering driver with victory in race one helped by the fact that second placed Kellett was fighting with third placed Chadwick for the whole race and allowed Pointon to scamper home for the victory.
It was the same result again in race two but Kellett put up more of a fight this time round and kept the pressure on Pointon until the flag fell.
Back in jolly old England only three weeks later, it was time for another driver to lock out the victories all weekend (almost) as Ollie Chadwick claimed pole position and swept to wins in first two races of the weekend. He could have almost made it three, but a spin in the last race saw Kellett take full advantage and extend his championship lead to 52 points thanks to the round 15 victory.
Going into Snetterton it was seeming like an impossible task for Chadwick to close up to Kellett in the points but a win in the dry, and then a win in the soaking wet – the pieces of bread between the filling of yet another victory for Kellett in race two – saw the points table slightly close up.
Securing a trio of third places, and keeping his shot at the title alive, was Callum Pointon who had an uncanny ability of running completely alone – not being able to catch up to the leaders but being too fast to be troubled for the podium.
That meant it all came down to the last weekend of the year and twisty Donington Park circuit. Race one went the way of Callum Pointon who kept his outside shot alive, but it was disaster for Kellett who found himself beached in the gravel at the Old Hairpin after being taken out by Nick Zapolski compounded by the fact that Chadwick finished the race in second.
Even better was to come in race two for Chadwick as he repeated the result to again finish second behind Pointon and took the championship lead with one race to spare after Kellett could only finish fourth after a race to forget when it really mattered.
Sadly for Chadwick, cruel Lady Luck would deny him the title – he was running well on the podium in race three and more importantly ahead of Kellett. However, a broken propshaft halfway through the race would see him forced to retire his distinctive yellow and black Ginetta G40 and could only watch as Kellett swept to his first title in just his first year in the series.