George Murrells took two wins, with Dominic Pettit taking the other, at an action packed Ginetta Challenge triple header at Snetterton. With the pair sharing the wins in the first two races, controversy reigned in race three, with Pettit winning on-the-road, before being later excluded from the results, giving Murrells the win and in the process, the championship lead.
George Murrells started race one on pole, but bogged down off the start, allowing Academy Motorsports Sean Huyton into an early lead, closely followed by Stuart Pearson and championship leader coming into the weekend, Andy Richardson. A moment for Murrells on the next lap dropped him to 15th, forcing him to mount a comeback through the field. Richardson was soon to have problems too, with an electrical problem causing his car to cut out. He coasted it home to the pits, where his team quickly set about fixing the problem.
Richardson's cause was helped with an unexpected torrential downpour of rain on lap six, forcing the race to come to a halt. With the heavy rain coupled with strong winds, visibility was low, making racing far too dangerous.
After the rain had eased, the cars took to the track behind the safety car to be accustomed to the conditions, before racing restarted. The break in racing allowed Richardson's car to be fixed, allowing him to rejoin from the pits and look to mount a recovery drive into the points.
Huyton led from the restart, with Pearson second and Pettit now third in his Ginetta G40. There was soon to be a change for the lead, with Pearson nipping past Huyton at Coram, with Huyton losing another place a lap later, Pettit dropping him to third.
Pettit quickly set about taking the lead, doing so at the Esses a lap later. Pearson didn't give up, but was unable to find a way back past, Pettit coming home for his second win of the season. Pearson finished a close second, ahead of Huton, Steve Bell and Matt Flowers. The recovering pair of Murrells and Richardson finished sixth and eighth respectively.
As they moved onto Race two, it was Huyton who led away from the lights, with Pettit, Pearson and Murrells following close behind. Pettit was to lose out quickly though, the Dominant Motorsport driver running wide at Coram, recovering to the track in to fourth, before losing another place on the next lap to Richardson.
At the front, Huyton had built a small advantage, but was beginning to be caught by Murrells, who had worked his way up to second. Murrells made his move on lap eight, challenging at the Esses. Huyton defended well to hold on to the lead, but lost it soon after, with mechanical problems forcing him into retirement.
Behind, the fight was on between Pearson, Richardson and Pettit, with Pettit shown a driving standards warning flag as he attempted to get into the podium places. There was soon to be contact between the pair, with Richardson hit in the back by Pettit after missing a gear at Russell. With bodywork flapping on Richardson's G20, Pettit got past into third, but Richardson managed to retake the place on the final lap. Ahead, Murrells took the line for his fourth win of the year, ahead of Huyton, with Richardson and Pettit next up. Flowers and Bell rounded out the top six.
The third race of the weekend was the rescheduled race that was cut short at Oulton Park earlier in the season. It began with Huyton taking the lead, with Pettit and Murrells close behind, but his lead was short lived, a mistake at the Esses seeing him taking a trip off road, dropping him outside the top ten.
Pettit took the lead, with Murrells second, the pair quickly stuck behind the safety car, after contact between Steve Bell Snr and Nick Flowers forced its deployment. A quick clear up meant just one lap behind the safety car, with Pettit leading away at the restart.
Murrells began to put pressure on Pettit up top, with the battle coming to a head on lap six, with contact between the two dropping Murrells to seventh. Pettit held his lead, with the recovering Huyton working his way right through the field into second ahead of Richardson. He was soon to lose out though, with Murrells working his way back up from the earlier contact to get into second.
At the front though, Pettit led away to win, but his celebrations were soon cut short, the G40 man excluded after his part in the clash with Murrells. This gave the latter the win, his fifth of the year, along with the championship lead in the process. Huyton finished second, for his second podium of the weekend and eighth of the season. Craig McIlvar completed the podium for his best ever finish in the Ginetta Challenge, a feat repeated by Harry Whale in fourth, with Richardson and Jake Green rounding out the top six.
Next up for the Ginetta Challenge are two races at Brands Hatch on September 25/26. Murrells leads the way in the championship, 25 points clear of Richardson, with Huyton a further 25 back.
Ginetta Challenge Provisional Standings (after Rd12)
- George Murrells 313pts
- Andrew Richardson 288pts
- Sean Huyton 263pts
- Stuart Pearson 232pts
- Dominic Pettit 201pts