Thruxton hosted the third round of the Ginetta GT5 Challenge with Katie Milner looking to continue her strong form shown at Rockingham the previous week. Having never raced at Thruxton before, the meeting was always going to be a challenge but Milner showed her talent by mixing it in the top half of the field. After qualifying inside the top-15, results of 23rd and 18th weren’t indicative of Katie’s strong pace following incidents in both races. However, Milner will be extremely pleased with her race starts, where she gained a combined 15 positions on the opening laps of the races.
Qualifying at Thruxton took place on Saturday morning with Katie hoping for gain further familiarity with the circuit and slowly improve her times. Following some more experience drivers during the opening part of the session, Milner showed good speed and moved inside the top-15 of a hugely talented 26 car field. Setting consistent lap times to close out the session, Katie set the 15th fastest time, less than two seconds away from pole. This was a great effort from the Team One Call driver who showed good pace at a very difficult circuit which is unique to anything she may have driven at previously.
After her impressive opening laps at Rockingham, Katie was looking to continue her impressive racecraft in the early stages at Thruxton. She did just that by rising up to ninth on the opening lap, once again avoiding the first lap drama and moving up through the field. After losing out to Max Bird on lap three, Milner had a spin which dropped her to the rear of the field but she was determined to recover and gain valuable points. Without a safety car or a draft from other drivers, it was a tough battle to regain track position, however, Katie did a great job in gaining three positions in the closing stages to end the first race in 23rd position. Thruxton was always going to be a challenge for Milner who was making her debut at the Hampshire circuit but she knew there would be opportunities to move forward during the televised race two.
Lining up on the twelfth row of the grid following her finish in race one, Katie was looking for another impressive start to catapult up the order. With a number of incidents on the opening lap, Milner was able to gain six places and end the first lap as the safety car was deployed. When the racing resumed, Katie wasted no time in making up ground as she passed Connor O’Brien for 16th, followed by a double overtake on lap five to move her inside the top-15. The next series of laps saw Milner caught up in a series of battles which dropped her to 18th at the conclusion of lap eight. Despite running a number of consistent lap times, Katie was unable to gain any further positions in the closing stages to end race two in 18th, not the perfect result, but lots of experience gained to take forward into the remainder of the season.
Although Katie wasn’t able to record the results she deserved at Thruxton, there were still many positives to take away. With the majority of her competitors having some experience of the circuit, mainly in Ginetta Junior’s, it was a credit to Katie’s ability to see her challenging her rivals on her first trip to the unique Hampshire circuit. Milner’s race starts were particularly impressive, smartly avoiding a number of incidents in the opening stages of both races, a skill which will serve her well as the season progress and the racing intensifies. Katie now sits eighth in the championship standings, in just her first season of rear-wheel drive circuit racing, and will be looking forward to the next meeting at Silverstone at the beginning of June.
You can keep up to date with Katie’s progress using the social media links below: