Brad Bailey, Luke Davenport and Oliver Basey-Fisher starred in the opening races of the 2013 Protyre Ginetta GT5 Challenge at Oulton Park, Bailey’s double triumph earning him the early championship lead.
A sunny Cheshire circuit produced a thrilling trio of races for the opening round, Davenport snatching pole position from an impressive David Pittard, with former Guneta Junior drivers Basey-Fisher and Bailey lining up behind them to hint as to who would be the day’s four drivers to watch.
Davenport had a start he would quickly like to forget in the opening race after he was handed a penalty for rolling before the lights went out, leading the race from lights-to-flag despite being involved in further drama as contact into the first corner sent Pittard spinning down the field.
Davenport took the flag first despite coming under pressure from Bailey throughout, the Reflex Racing driver’s 10-second time penalty dropping him to fourth behind winner Bailey and Academy Motorsport duo Will Burns and Basey-Fisher, a rapid Burns just beating his team-mate in a race-long dice between the team-mates.
Bailey and Davenport again locked horns in the second encounter of the day which was briefly halted for a first lap accident involving Jason Kenny, Matt Flowers and several G20 runners, Bailey unable to wrestle the win away from the on-form youngster Davenport on this occassion.
The day’s final race was a superb four-car battle for honours, Pittard leading the way early on after snatching the lead at Cascades with a great move on Bailey, Davenport slipping to third with Basey-Fisher joining the back of the train. Bailey forced his way back into first inside Pittard at Old Hall in the second half of the race, the former Ginetta Junior race winner going on to win his second race of the day ahead of Basey-Fisher and Davenport after a late mistake dropped Pittard to fourth.
“That was hard work!” said Bailey. “I knew I had to try something clever and caught [Pittard] out at Old Hall. He was hard work to race against – at least I know what to expect for the rest of the season. Two Wins, Two Fastest Laps and a Second. Really, really happy.”
Basey-Fisher was lucky not to be involved in the first corner collision involving Pittard and Davenport, telling thecheckeredflag.co.uk after the first race: “I got a decent start and then coming into the first corner something kicked off right in front of me. I only just got through it.”
The Academy Motorsport youngster then completed a superbly consistent day’s work of three podium finishes, stealing second place from Pittard on the last lap of the day’s second race with a bold move at Druids on the SV21 driver, before taking advantage of a spin for Pittard at the last corner of race three while lying second to complete a podium sweep with third place after also getting the better of Davenport late in the final race.
“It was a bit of an interesting race, especially at the beginning where I was biding my time”, he added on the race three podium. “Didn’t quite have the pace to be right at the front and I was struggling a little bit to keep up, so I thought I’d sit there and see what happened. Luckily it all paid off, I made a few moves here and there and it’s all turned out right for me.”
Third place man Davenport also declared himself happy with his weekend after a win, a third and a fourth, saying: “All in all we’re really pleased with that. It’s a very long season ahead, I’m just happy to have the pace and be fighting up front. It’s a very strong championship this year and there’s some very good drivers in it so I’ll keep learning and keep fighting for wins.”
Bailey takes the early series lead into the next round at Rockingham, 16 points ahead of Davenport who lies a further four ahead of Basey-Fisher.