Katie Milner has enjoyed a successful debut weekend competing in the Ginetta GT5 Challenge at Oulton Park. Fresh from her success in the Junior Saloon Car Championship, Milner was hoping for a smooth transition into senior racing as she competed in the highly competitive one make series for Team One Call. After qualifying in seventh, Katie charged through the field to finish in 11th after slipping back on the opening lap. A spirited drive in race two saw her pick up an eighth place result, with both races held in tricky conditions. Milner was scheduled to start race three on reverse grid pole, however due to earlier barrier repairs the race was unable to take place due the track curfew.
A hectic schedule for the opening weekend saw qualifying and three races set to take place on one day, with qualifying taking place early in the morning. A packed grid of Ginetta GT5 Challenge cars took to the track in tough conditions with Katie aiming for a solid session on her debut weekend in the series. Milner improved her times throughout the session, setting the 7th fastest time to line up on the fourth row of the grid for race one at Oulton Park.
The opening race took place just a couple of hours later with the track still damp despite sessions from both GT’s and single seaters. Starting from 7th on the grid, Katie fell to the rear of the field after the opening lap but was determined to fight back through the field. Briefly setting the fastest lap of the race as she made up for lost time, Milner made up five positions by the end of lap three and was into 21st position. A further three positions were gained on the following lap with a series of strong overtakes, highly impressive on Katie’s series debut in the wet. By lap six Katie was up to 13th and was closing down a sizeable gap ahead of her, eager to gain further positions in the closing stages. With two more overtaking moves on the final lap, Milner completed a superb recovery to finish her first Ginetta GT5 Challenge race in 11th position.
After the track had dried out during the British GT race, further rain had meant the drivers faced tricky conditions for the second race of the day. Starting from 11th courtesy of her finish in race one, Milner made a fantastic start and was up to eighth after the first lap, with a recovering Lewis Brown finding his way past on the following lap. A fantastic move into Cascades on the following lap saw Katie move up into seventh and within touching distance of the leading pack of the drivers. After a good battle with Simon Traves, Milner fell back to eighth, a place which she held onto in the closing stages to record her first top-10 finish in the Ginetta GT5 Challenge.
After finishing in eighth place, Katie was due to start the final race of the weekend on pole due to a partial reverse grid. Unfortunately, the race was cancelled due to lengthy barrier repairs earlier in the day. Despite this disappointing end to the weekend, Milner should be satisfied with her debut weekend in the highly competitive series in conditions which was changeable throughout the weekend. Katie has proven to be able to overtake, as well as run with the lead pack, giving her confidence heading into the next round of the championship which will take place at Rockingham in two weeks’ time, before the series supports the British Touring Car Championship at Thruxton a week later.
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