Safety car stops spa success-Katie Milners Belgian Ginetta Weekend

Track action Photo by JEP (Jakob Ebrey)Katie Milner and her Merlin team joined the Ginetta GT5 championships annual foreign trip last weekend with this year’s venue being Spa Francochamps in Belgium. Milner hadn’t raced at Spa before but had a test day in the weeks leading up to the event to learn the circuit.

First up in the weekend was a practice and a qualifying session on the Friday. Milner decided to save her good tyres for when it mattered and so did practice on a very old set. This left her in sixteenth but she knew her ultimate pace would be much quicker. Milner had noticed during the session that the huge grid for this weekend, (The other G40 championships were all racing at once) had meant that there was a lot of traffic. This could prove to be a problem in qualifying if she was held up on her quick laps.

Next it was into qualifying and with some decent tyres on for the first time in the weekend. Unfortunately, Milner’s fears of traffic issues with the slow cars were realised and she found herself held up initially. But there was time for another run so this shouldn’t be a problem. Sadly then there was another setback as it started to rain. It’s pretty much impossible to have a race weekend at Spa and not get rained on at some point. This weekend was to be no exception! With the track now much slower, there was no chance of getting a faster lap now and her best lap when she was held up left her down in fourteenth, not where she wanted to be.

Milner has become a bit of an expert at fighting up the field this season after bad luck has often left her lower than her real pace would see her end up.

The first race was on Saturday and Milner made a great start making up places but unfortunately there was a serious crash elsewhere in the field which brought out the safety car for most of the rest of the race, leaving just three racing laps in total. Despite this, Milner had made it up to an excellent tenth.

Race two saw Milner make an even better start and she fought her way up to sixth before another crash and another safety car. The safety car finally pulled in with a single lap to go and Milner could see the two cars in front of her were battling, giving her an opportunity to pass to within sight of a podium finish. Unfortunately, the two cars in front then tangled, leaving Milner with nowhere to go but off the track.

Katie Milner Photo by JEP (Jakob Ebrey)She didn’t crash but dropped several places in the recovery leaving her in ninth, still an improvement on her starting position but very disappointing considering she was in contention for a top four at least.

“I was pretty pleased with race one and getting up to tenth place despite only having a handful of laps where I could actually race. Race two was looking set to be even better but I was left with nowhere to go after two of my rivals clashed and it dropped me down the order. I was happy to get two top ten finishes though after my qualifying was ruined and overall it’s been an incredible weekend at Spa.”

“As always thanks to my team, Merlin International for all their hard work and the long trip down from Yorkshire! Also, a huge thank you to all my sponsors including Snap-on Tools UK & Ireland, Walero Motorsport, Reis Motorsport Insurance, Richardson Transport and Swift” ‪

“It’s Knockhill next which I really enjoy so hopefully it’ll be my most successful weekend so far.” By Marc Waller 

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