Rain spoils a day at the park – Katie Milners Oulton Park Ginetta weekend

Katie Milner’

Katie Milner’Katie Milner’s 2018 Ginetta GT5 Challenge season began over the easter weekend as she headed to Oulton Park in Cheshire for the first three races.

With last year being her first year in the championship, the plan this season is to be with the front pack from the start. But the entry this season is one of the toughest ever so she’ll have to be giving it everything from the start.

With Oulton Park having no running on Sunday and all the GT5 race weekend sessions on the Monday, this would be a long weekend with the testing for the weekend held on the Friday. The test day was wet and the day was used setting up the car and optimising things ready for the main event on Monday. There was then two days off waiting for the excitement of Monday but it gave the team a chance to watch the other events.

By the time Monday came, the weather was very wet and it was a soaking track as the thirty two cars headed out for qualifying. Milner went out in a pack of cars initially but soon passed these to try and find herself a bit of clear track to set a quick lap. Unfortunately an off by another car soon bought out the red flags. By now the rain had eased and the surface was slowly draining meaning that the final flying lap of the session would probably be the fastest. Her last flying lap of the session put her in sixth but with several cars completing laps after her, she was pushed down to ninth.

This was still an excellent starting position in the front running pack. The schedule had two races quite close together on the timetable with the third to be held right at the end of the day.

Race one was held with dry conditions in the sky but with the track still very much soaked. Milner made quite a good start but around the first corner she was shuffled down a couple of places. She battled with the two cars ahead of her initially soon moving up to tenth. It was then a race long battle with the ninth place car.

Milner was determined and hung on all race but the narrow track limited passing opportunities and she crossed the line in tenth. Although she was pleased with the top ten, Milner was slightly frustrated as she’d felt that a top five (at least) was possible. Hopefully race two would be the time to put that right.

The track was a bit dryer for race two and Milner made a much better start. Straight away she was up to ninth on the first lap. Further round the opening lap she moved into eighth and more was to come. A rival then spins off moving her up to seventh and she soon draws alongside sixth place. But then up ahead another rival spins and stops across the track right in front of her.

Incredibly Milner avoids the stationary car unlike a rival who goes off into the gravel. But she had to come to a halt and so several rivals streamed past before she could get going. With less than ten minutes left she didn’t have much time to recover and by the end she had got back up to tenth.

Again it was frustrating as she had been much higher up the pack, only losing out due to another driver’s error.

But the silver lining was she had pole for race three.

Track actionThe team sorted the car ready for race three and then everyone settled down to watch the second British GT race as they wouldn’t be out for a while. By now the rain had started again and the GT race was red flagged after four laps.

After several minutes the decision came through that the weather was so bad that the rest of the day would be abandoned.

Katie was gutted as she felt confident of a good result from pole in race three. This race will now be held at a future event. Katie reflected on the event.

“Although we didn’t quite have the results we wanted, we have shown our pace throughout the weekend. We’re already in a strong place in such a tight grid. Rockingham is a strong track for me, I’ve won there in the past and had my best results there last year in this championship. Hopefully we will come away with some silverware!”

The next rounds will be at Rockingham at the end of April where Milner and the team will be hoping to get at least a top five which had escaped them at Oulton Park. By Marc Waller

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