Latest News » 2019 Ginetta GT5 Challenge Rounds 8-10 - Donington Park GP
Our first of 2 visits to Donington Park this season, and the first time for both Altima Academy drivers to take on the GP Circuit. Danny Harrison was keen to hunt for a win after having got a taste of the podium at Silverstone, and Josh Steed fully determined to bounce back from a difficult weekend on his first outing in the Ginetta GT5 Challenge.
Testing was difficult, with track conditions changing throughout the day we struggled to find a consistent setup for both drivers, and with time to find in both setup and drivers (and a little bit of gravel to dig out…), it was looking like we would struggle to be competitive for the weekend ahead. But with Formula Ford Champion Adam Higgins on hand to help steer the ship, and the return of The Boss (Brody), we knew anything was possible!
Not as close as we would expect from the Ginetta GT5 Challenge qualifying of previous meetings showed that we were not the only ones struggling to nail down the unpredictable nature of the Donington Park circuit. For those who don’t know, Donington Park sits just a few feet under the path of a million jet planes an hour taking off from East Midlands Airport next door to the circuit, which means the track surface is constantly soaking up jet trails and aviation fuel thrown out by the sky cars above.
Nonetheless, Danny Harrison put in a flying performance to get his best qualifying result of the season so far, and would start 7th and 5th for Rounds 8 and 9 respectively, with his 2 fastest times of the session just 3/100ths of a second apart. Josh Steed had speed issues which we would later diagnose to be the front brake callipers seizing when hot, but despite having a 3mph deficit, Josh managed to better his previous qualifying to line up 18th and 15th for Rounds 8 and 9 respectively.
An early safety car neutralised the first few laps of the race, but in the half a lap before it did, Josh Steed was not hanging around, with the gremlins from qualifying behind him, Josh was on a mission taking 5 places on lap 1 into 13th position before the safety car period. Racing resumed on lap 3 and Josh just kept climbing up the order, overtaking at every opportunity he managed to climb well into the top ten to finish 7th overall.
Danny Harrison had a relatively uneventful drive, which, granted, isn’t very exciting from a spectators point of view, but it is a good plan to score those important championship points. Danny held on to 7th for the majority of the race looking for the chance to make a move into the top 5, on the last lap, on the last corner, the door opened and Danny had to take the chance (he’s a racer, there was no other option) unfortunately the door was slammed shut and as much as Danny tried, contact was unavoidable, both cars would spin just meters from the finish line and facing the tyre barrier, Danny had to scramble for reverse to get the car across the line finishing just outside the points in 16th position.
Danny Harrison would start 5th but a quick starting outside row of the grid would demote Danny to 7th going into turn 1, with everyone seemingly on top of the conditions by now, the leading group of cars were separated by less than a car length a piece. Danny fought his way back up to 5th by lap 2 and managed to hold his position in the leading pack, looking for opportunities in front while trying to clear the battle behind filling his mirrors. Piling on the pressure all the way to the flag, Danny couldn’t quite better 5th on the road, but a post-race penalty for the race winner meant Danny would inherit 4th place overall.
Josh Steed was ready for another charge from the midfield, starting 15th he was another victim of the fast starting outside row dropping just 1 place to 16th on the first lap, but it didn’t take long for Josh to get in his stride and start his attack. Lap by lap climbing back up to 14th, then 12th, we was sure he would be back in the top 10 with time to spare, but with 3 laps to go and cars around him desperate for positions, a 4 car bunch up at the Melbourne Loop left Josh with nowhere to go and he took a hefty hit, dislodging his bonnet. Peeking over and around the flapping front end Josh managed to nurse the car home in 20th position (19th after judicial).
Ballistic start for Josh Steed saw him rise from 19th on the grid to 11th on lap 1, and then another place and back into the top 10 the following lap, he was not taking any prisoners this time, Josh had a score to settle and nobody was going to get in his way… that is until the safety car made its second appearance of the weekend, damn! With the battles neutralised and just 3 racing laps left after the race resumed, Josh was locked just inside the top 10 unable to break from the cars around, crossing the line in 10th overall.
Danny Harrison got squeezed wide at turn 1 after a good getaway off the line from 4th on the outside of the grid, he managed to collect himself up to hang onto 6th position and would have his work cut out for him as the car he would need to get past was the current championship leader. The 6 car train once again breaking from the pack behind ready to have their own fight for the podium just as the safety car is released, allowing the field to bunch up once again. On the restart Danny would find himself sandwiched between the 2 championship favourites for the remaining 3 laps, defending hard while trying to push forward, Danny managed to drive smart finishing 6th overall.
Next we head to the Netherlands for a huge party in Amsterdam! Woop woo…
Zandvoort is next up, we are not partying in Amsterdam, and I’m told that I am banned from writing race reports unless I am more professional about it.
(Amsterdam Party! Sunday Night! shh!)