Posted on Mon 27th Aug, 2018 in: Team News
W2R Motorsport’s Adrian Campbell-Smith has strengthened his title challenge in the AM class of the Ginetta GT5 Challenge with a superb sixth win of the season so far at Knockhill, while series debutant Declan Jones put in a sensational display at the head of the field.
For the second time this season the GT5 Challenge competed on the support bill for the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship, which ensured a huge trackside crowd at the Scottish circuit and live ITV4 television coverage on Sunday afternoon.
A late move ahead of the meeting saw Jones come in to make his championship debut, though it took no time at all for the former British GT4 vice-champion to get up to speed with his Ginetta G40 as he qualified a great third overall on Saturday morning.
The opening encounter followed that afternoon, with Jones starting in brilliant fashion as he stormed into second position heading through the Taylors Hairpin on lap one, before going on to latch on to the tail of the race leader heading into an early safety car period.
At the restart, the Whitley Neill backed driver was the fastest driver on circuit as he piled the pressure on the leader and he got alongside heading down the start-finish straight at the end of lap sixteen, only to see his attempts at taking the lead halted by some robust defensive driving.
Forced onto the grass on the inside of the track heading towards Duffus Dip, Jones was powerless to prevent contact between the two. An excellent recovery though ensured he got back on track in third, a position he maintained to the flag for a podium finish on-the-road.
Post-race however, Jones was handed a time penalty for the collision that dropped him back to fourth place, a disappointment he was determined to make amends for in the live-televised second race on Sunday, which would take place in vastly different weather conditions.
Jones produced a fast start in the torrential rain to grab third straight away, however the red flags were out almost immediately due to a multi-car incident behind. It was déjà vu at the restart though, with another quick launch getting him back into the top three.
A brilliant move out of the final hairpin on lap two moved him into second, which he maintained through a safety car period. As the action resumed, Jones pushed hard for the lead but a backmarker blocking him heading into the high-speed chicane led to unfortunate contact.
With his Ginetta G40 receiving damage, Jones was unable to mount a full recovery drive in the limited laps remaining and took the chequered flag in sixth position, a result that capped off a hugely impressive debut in the championship.
The Knockhill meeting proved to be an important one for the Campbell-Smith meanwhile in his efforts to retain his GT5 Challenge AM class title, with a great effort over the course of the weekend edging him closer to the points lead heading into the season finale next month.
The Greenwich-based racer made a statement of intent as he led the class by over half a second in free practice on Friday, and he topped the timesheets once again in qualifying on his way to a superb third pole position of the season.
Campbell-Smith went on to produce a truly faultless drive in the opening race, dealing superbly with the safety car restarts and keeping his nose clean during an action-packed encounter as he secured a masterful lights-to-flag victory.
Unfortunately race two would come to an abrupt halt for Campbell-Smith though as he got caught up in the incident that led to the early red flag stoppage. After a strong start, a collision ahead led to chaos around him, with a spinning vehicle collecting his Ginetta G40.
That ended his race on the spot, a frustrating end to an otherwise perfect weekend, however his race one success does mean he sits only five points adrift of Richard Evans at the top of the AM class standings with two races remaining.
It would be a difficult weekend in Fife meanwhile for Will Dyrdal, who saw brake issues on Friday unfortunately hamper his progress during free practice. The problem was resolved for qualifying however and he was able to showcase his huge potential.
Dyrdal brilliantly posted the seventh fastest time overall, his second top ten qualifying result of the campaign, and he would go on to be in the thick of a thrilling midfield battle in the opening race when an unfortunate incident at Clarks corner ended his race prematurely.
That left him back in 27th on the grid for the final race, with a strong drive in the tricky conditions seeing him pick his way through the order to eighteenth place, a solid result that he will look to build on in the final rounds of the season at Donington Park next month (22/23 September).
W2R Motorsport’s Ben Hyland: “It’s certainly been a rollercoaster weekend, but we come away with some standout performances for all three drivers. Declan was so impressive on his debut, Adrian took another great victory and Will showed his huge potential in qualifying.
“Declan came in and was a true professional on and off track. He’s a dream to work with, providing good feedback with the team and supporting his team-mates. He’s a natural racer too and it’s no mean feat to enter this series and be challenging for the wins in your first two races.
“We’ll take third on the road in race one. He thoroughly deserved to be there and it’s a shame to have that taken away post-race. It didn’t go his way in race two due to a backmarker, but sixth was still a strong result and it takes nothing away from a brilliant weekend.
“Adrian put in a fantastic performance all weekend. Fastest in practice, pole position in qualifying and a lights-to-flag win in race one, it was a perfect meeting until the race two contact. He was extremely unfortunate once again, but he’s in the title fight for Donington Park which is key.
“The issue on Friday for Will was hugely frustrating for everyone, but the way he bounced back and got his best ever qualifying result was really impressive. That makes it more a shame that the races didn’t go his way, but he’s shown again the great pace and potential he has.
“Overall the weekend promised a lot and it didn’t all come off for us, but the team have put in a monumental effort once again and I thank every single one of them for all their effort. We’re really excited for the season finale at Donington Park now.”
The GT5 Challenge is next in action on 22/23 September for the three concluding rounds of the 2018 season.