Mixed conditions and results -Katie Milners Ginetta GT5 Knockhill weekend

Team Merlin preparing to race (Photo by Marc Waller)Katie Milner and Team Merlin found themselves doubling in size when they headed to Scotland as Scott McKenna joined the team.

Mckenna’s regular HHC car had been badly damaged and with HHC not having a replacement car he had to look elsewhere. Team Merlin had a suitable second car available and so an agreement was made to run him for the Knockhill weekend.

There are some advantages to having a team mate over being a single car team so Milner hoped to be able to take advantage over the course of the weekend.

In Friday testing, both cars were very quick setting lap times although with half of the field being separated by a second, things would be very tight and less than a tenth of a second could be the difference between qualifying in the top ten or the top twenty!

The weather for the weekend looked set to be mixed but it was dry as the cars headed out for qualifying on Saturday. With thirty cars on the short Knockhill circuit it was going to be very tough to get a clear lap with cars on almost every part of the track.

Milner ended up in eleventh, just seven tenths of a second off pole and 0.013 seconds off the top ten! Her new team mate Mckenna took sixteenth but only just over a tenth of a second off Milner’s time. In the end, only a second separated the entire top eighteen so anything could happen in the races.

With one held on Saturday and one on Sunday, they looked set to be held in different conditions as rain was forecast for all of Sunday.

But Saturday’s race was in the sunshine with both Milner and Mckenna feeling positive about a good result. Both drivers made good starts but Milner’s better qualifying position left her in a better position initially as she raced just behind the leading pack. McKenna was further back but coming through fast. The race was interrupted by the safety car coming out for stranded cars but despite this, McKenna fought his way up to behind Milner. Mindful of not taking each other out, the two team mates battled with Mckenna just coming out on top as Milner was slowed by a back marker.

They finished together in a strong seventh and eighth place overall.

Sunday’s race turned out to be much tougher with the heaviest rain of the weekend falling during the race. Milner made an amazing start initially running with the front runners but behind her was a huge pile up. This meant a red flag and a restart of the race. Fortunately McKenna had also survived the pile up and so both Team Merlin cars restarted.

Katie and the team check the data from a session (Photo by Marc Waller) Flames (Photo by Marc Waller) Battling her new team mate in race two (Photo by Marc Waller)

 

 

 

On the second start Milner once again was in the top ten and initially things were going well for her as she raced with the front running pack. However in the damp conditions, the cockpit was becoming humid causing the windscreen to steam up. Initially Milner was unaffected but as visibility worsened, Milner found her pace starting to drop off and she came under attack from rivals. She didn’t give in however, repassing some but ultimately it became impossible to maintain her front running pace and she started to drop down the order.

By the flag she was fourteenth which although was slightly disappointing compared with previous races, it was still in the top half of the field. McKenna had passed Milner as she slowed late in the race but he could only make it to twelfth.

“I’ve had mixed results this weekend,” Said Milner after the race. “Eighth in race one from eleventh was good and I felt the car was strong during the race. But with a change of conditions on Sunday I found the car started to steam up and I couldn’t hold the positions I had gained with the windscreen issues not allowing me to see the track properly and so I couldn’t give it 100%. I’mtTaking away the positives though and it’s now onto testing for the final round at Donington Park in less than a month!‬ As usual thanks to my amazing sponsors for enabling me to go racing; Snap-on Tools UK & Ireland Richardson Transport Ltd Swift Group Greenlight Sports & Entertainment Motordrive Seats.”By Marc Waller

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