Harley Haughton took a stunning first pair of race wins in the Protyre Motorsport Ginetta GT5 Challenge at Thruxton this past weekend (28/29 May), as Will Jenkins became the new championship leader.
The fastest circuit in the UK served up lap times with an average speed of over 100mph in qualifying on Saturday morning. Connor Grady (Xentek Motorsport), who topped the points heading into the meeting, set the pace with his first pole positions of the 2022 campaign.
Will Jenkins (Elite Motorsport) was second quickest, continuing his record as the leading qualifier on the grid this season, with his team-mate Haughton following up his recent run of four consecutive pole positions with third place ahead of Mikey Doble (Xentek Motorsport).
In the Am class, Chris White set the pace for the third session out of four this season. He lapped almost half a second quicker than Paolo Santi to lead a Raceway Motorsport one-two for both races, with Karim Sekkat (Elite Motorsport) and Bal Sidhu (Xentek Motorsport) next up.
Grady made the best start in the opening race that afternoon, getting an early gap through the opening couple of laps. The pack reeled him in though and Haughton dived down the inside at the Club Chicane on lap three to seize control of the race.
Haughton didn’t look back from there, pulling away from his pursuers to ultimately take a brilliant maiden win in the championship by over five seconds. From fifth on the grid, Will Orton (Race Car Consultants) made impressive progress up the order to secure a third consecutive podium in second.
Shuffled back to seventh by the end of lap two, Jenkins fought back well to complete the podium and take the championship lead. Nat Hodgkiss (Race Carr Consultants) also made good progress, climbing from eighth to fourth ahead of Grady and Doble, the latter having run as high as second.
After recording a seasons’ best qualifying result, Ruben Hage (TCR) took the chequered flag in seventh following some exciting battles with the likes of Harry Mangion (Elite Motorsport), Ignazio Zanon (Raceway Motorsport) and Aidan Hills (Aidan Hills Motorsport).
Dave Sutton (Team Avago) just missed out on the top ten after a good performance, while Fraser Fenwick (AB Motorsport) was next up on his championship debut ahead of Kian Donaldson (Race Car Consultants) and the leading Am class runners.
A dominant drive from White saw him lead from start-to-finish for a fifth class win of the season, with Santi making it a Raceway one-two again. Sekkat slipped back to fifth at one stage, but came back through to the final podium position from Phil McGarty (Alastair Rushforth Motorsport).
The second race, televised live on ITV4 on Sunday afternoon, began with Grady leading away from pole position as Orton swept around the outside at Allard to grab second. That changed at the final chicane though, as Hills briefly took the spot before Haughton picked him off on lap two.
By this point Grady had built a 1.5 second advantage at the front, but it didn’t take long for Haughton to close the gap and get ahead into the complex on lap five. From there, he would prove untouchable as he strolled clear to a stunning 11 second winning margin.
Grady and Jenkins traded second place between themselves for the next handful of laps, before Hodgkiss stormed through to finish there on the road. He was later disqualified from the results though, having made contact with Grady that ended the latter’s race.
It was Doble therefore that was ultimately declared in second position ahead of Jenkins, whose eighth podium in ten races this year has secured him a 19 point championship lead. Orton ended up fourth, with Hage improving on his race one result in fifth.
Hills recovered from a trip across the grass to complete the top six ahead of Sutton, Donaldson, Mangion, Fenwick and Zanon, with Sam Harvey (Xentek Motorsport) a weekend best of 12th. Behind them, there was a grandstand finish in the Am class.
White suffered a spin on the opening lap that dropped him to the back of the field, but a tremendous recovery saw him get back to second and then close down a five second gap to leader Sekkat. They ended up going side by side into the final chicane, with Sekkat just holding the place.
Second was still enough to confirm White as the class points leader heading into the second half of the season though. Santi completed the podium ahead of McGarty and Xentek Motorsport pairing Gerson Zarpelao and Neil Finnighan.
Full race results can be found at https://www.tsl-timing.com/event/222103
The Protyre Motorsport Ginetta GT5 Challenge remains alongside the British Touring Car Championship for the next rounds of the 2022 season at Croft in North Yorkshire (25/26 June).