Tricky conditions greeted the Protyre Motorsport Ginetta GT5 Challenge runners to start their final weekend of the season at Donington Park as morning rain left the track slick. However, with the weather – mostly – holding off from adding to the coating during the 20 minute qualifying session it was only in the final laps that the polesitter was officially decided.
Unofficially, though, both of the pole positions on offer had long seemed destined for Ollie Chadwick. The man trailing by 34 points – less than a race win – in the championship dominated the second half of the session, having taken provisional pole away from Callum Pointon in the early minute.
He seized provisional pole with a lap of 1:57.970 with points leader James Kellett second fastest on 1:58.507, but as he was unable to improve his time for several crucial laps Chadwick moved away towards the pole position. Improvements on his own time took him into the 1:56s and to nearly two seconds quicker than Kellett. Subsequently as he improved his times also took hold of the race two pole position, set by the second quickest times during the session.
There was a brief moment, just after Stewart Linn gambled on a tyre change to cut slicks, when it looked as through returning rain would have the final say in the session but those who remained on the fully treaded tyres waited continued to burn off the moisture to extract the grip from the track beneath.
Kellett was the first to make a move, taking half a second out of his best time, though he remained more than a second shy of Chadwick’s effort. The Xentec Motorsport driver then replied, further distancing himself from his title rival moving onto 1:56.225 to re-establish the 1.7 second gap he had enjoyed earlier in the session. He had the opportunity to go faster still, setting the best overall times through the first two sectors of the lap on what would be his final lap before he came into the pits to end his session.
Luca Hirst took third fastest with a late improvement, though his final lap lead up the order means he will start the second race of the weekend from fifth behind Pointon and James Robinson who will start this afternoon’s race one from fifth and fourth respectively.
Though his change of tyres proved fruitless Stewart Linn held onto the sixth placed starting slot for both races with Russ Simpson and Ryan Hadfield seventh and eight for both races, the latter driver losing four lap times – though none faster than those that counted – to track limit penalties.
Ben Hyland took pole for both races in the GRDC+ class, his fastest lap nearly five seconds quicker that Rob Keogh who will start second in the class for both races.