Another strong showing in the GT5 Challenge
A gloriously sunny Snetterton, was the setting for the fourth round of the Ginetta GT5 Challenge, which included two races over the course of the weekend. Nick Firth and Finlay Ractliffe returned to compete for Optimum Motorsport, while Andrew Marshall sat the round out.
It was a strong showing for Optimum, with Firth improving yet again from his previous results. For Ractliffe, a series of incidents hindered his final positions despite showing strong pace throughout.
Qualifying - #63 RACTLIFFE - P9 | #76 FIRTH - P5
The Ginetta GT5 Challenge was the first championship of the weekend to take to the track. It was a strong showing for the team with both drivers getting themselves into the top 10. Nick Firth in the #76 managed to take top honours in the team with P5, whilst #63 Finlay Ratcliffe was not far behind in P9.
Race 1 - #63 RACTLIFFE - DNF | #76 FIRTH - P7
A good start from Firth saw him make his way up to third in the opening two corners. Embrawled in a five way battle for the lead over the first few laps, Firth made his way into second place, only for unexpected contact to put him into a spin and drop him down to P8. Tidy driving from Firth saw him recover and make his way back up to P7 by the end of the race.
There was further contact in the opening laps of Race 1 for the Optimum team, when Ractliffe received considerable damage in the first lap of the race. After initially making a strong start, overtaking a host of competitors, Ractliffe's damage would unfortunately cause him to retire from Race 1.
Race 2 - #63 RACTLIFFE - P14 | #76 FIRTH - P4
After a pair of penalties were applied to the grid, Firth began Race 2 in P3. A clean start meant he was able to maintain this position for the first half of the race, however, Simms, behind in the #15, would ultimately catch and overtake him despite Firth defending hard. A fourth place finish is Firth’s highest placing to date, and shows he is making rapid improvement as the season progresses.
It was more bad luck for Ractliffe, as contact on the first lap, due to no fault of his own, dropped him down from P8 to P21. Once again, Ractliffe proved he has the skills to make his way through the field, finishing in P14, after consistently setting personal best laps around the track. The performance was strong, but still remained a disappointment, as he was unable to attain a result reflective of his ability.
Unfortunately race 3 was cancelled due to the late running of the British GT race.
Shaun Goff - Team Principal
“Going into the weekend, our goal for both drivers was to be pushing around the top five. In qualifying, to have two drivers in the top 10, Finlay P9 and Nick P5, set a great platform for a great weekend. Nick showed great pace and found himself in P2, but an unfortunate incident that was deemed at fault to the other driver occurred. Nick did a great recovery drive to finish P7. Finlay, again found himself in a position where contact put him into a spin, and he had to retire the car. Race 2, again for Nick starting in P3 was another good race. Finishing in P4 on only his third race weekend is testament to the effort he is putting in to reach his goal, which is a podium finish. For Finlay, he got tangled up in a first lap incident, which meant he had to do a recovery drive, setting personal best lap after personal best lap, just to get a result of P14. It was not a bad effort, and shows he has promise to be where Nick is at currently.”
Nick Firth #76
“It’s been a fantastic weekend where I have enjoyed some high quality racing. I qualified well and made a good start in Race 1, which meant I was in a 5-way battle with Chadwick, Simms, Strandberg and Gamble for the lead. However, a few laps in I received contact whilst in second position, which put me into a spin. I managed to recover and fight my way back to 7th, which I was pleased with, as it was still my strongest result to date. Race 2, I started in third and once again had a good battle with the leaders in the opening laps. I held third for a while and tried to defend from Simms, but unfortunately he got past me about half way into the race. I’m delighted to come fourth, however, and race with such good company throughout the weekend. I’m really looking forward to my fourth round at Spa Francorchamps now where I’ll be looking to continue making progress to the front.”
The team now look forward to the fifth round of the championship at Spa Francorchamps, Belgium on 11-12 July.