The Trofeo Abarth 500 GB rolled into Northamptonshire at the weekend, hoping to build on a successful opening round at Oulton Park at Easter. The series had managed to expand its numbers to 15 entries for this round with the addition of British GT driver John Gaw and Roger Green in guest cars and ex-BTCC driver Stefan Hodgetts entering the series in a Mardi Gras prepared machine.
It was Hodgetts who looked to have secured pole position in Saturday's qualifying session, before Ben Winrow trumped him late on in the session, with championship leader and double winner from Oulton Park, Gareth Howell in third, albeit a second adrift.
The only change between the top three in race one was Hodgetts getting the jump on Winrow to claim his maiden Trofeo victory with Charlie Butler-Henderson following the trio home in fourth place ahead of Josh Wakefield and Benny Simonsen. Hodgetts also managed to post the fastest lap of the race to ensure he would start from pole for race two.
Winrow, starting from second in race two powered past Hodgetts at the start and the two pulled clear of Howell until Hodgetts retired with an engine problem, promoting Howell to second and Butler-Henderson to third, with Wakefield and Paul Smith rounding out the top five. It was a deserved first win of the season for former Clio Cup champ Winrow, who had been luckless in the opener in Cheshire, after falling off on lap one of the first race had left him with an uphill struggle for the rest of the weekend. “Stef's a great driver, so once I got him, I just had to concentrate and put my head down and try to build a lead,” said Winrow after race two, “then it was a case of protecting the tyres and hanging on for the win.”
Howell leads the championship after four rounds, with a sixteen point lead over Advent team mate Butler-Henderson, Winrow is in third a further four back. Howell knows, however, that he needs to be closer to the pace of Hodgetts and Winrow, “I'm in front now, but I can't keep following the boot-lids of these guys for much longer or they will creep ahead.” He will get the chance to put things straight when the series resumes at Cadwell Park in support of the British Superbike Championship on May 23rd & 24th.
Photo credit: Trofeo abarth 500 GB