Chadwick dominates in opening Brands Hatch Encounter

by Connor Jackson

Without James Kellett or any of the other 2015 Ginetta GT5 Challenge championship rivals around to stop him, it’s perhaps no surprise that Ollie Chadwick used his experience to dominate the opening round of the season that was heavily delayed after a start line pile-up.

Starting on pole gave Chadwick the best opportunity to pull away thanks to a strong start at the Brands Hatch circuit. This proved to not be important as the race was quickly put under safety car, after a number of competitors ran into the back of each other because Richard Elliker stalling from 25th.

With nowhere to go, the cars behind tried to slow down only for the field to bunch up with the #25 car of Chris Babington appearing to come off the worst.  Debris needed to be swept off the racing line, with the repairs and clearing taking the majority of the race, and to avoid punctures the cars paraded through the pits.

The race was eventually restarted with just six minutes remaining on the clock. Not everyone at the front had made good starts though, with Jack Minshaw falling from third to seventh on the opening lap.

Chadwick led away Andrew Richardson, but such was the Xentek Motorsport drivers domination, that he built up a five second gap by the time he’d completed the first lap. Richardson himself was soon under pressure as Ryan Hadfield and the recovering Minshaw battled for second, with Minshaw moving into the podium places as the #41 ran wide.

With the race being reduced to a three lap sprint, many drivers were desperate to salvage a good result as Minshaw tangled with Richardson on the final circuit. This caused chaos behind, but allowed the slow starting Nick Zapolski to jump up to second with Minshaw completing the podium.

It was a surprise fourth for Am privateer Rob Keogh, with Richardson eventually recovering to claim fifth place as the flag dropped. In the GRDC+ class Richard Evans remained in control for the course of the race, but didn’t build up a gap like Chadwick, he won his class by only 1.015 seconds.

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