Ollie Wilkinson overcame challenging conditions and mechanical issues to take a healthy Protyre Motorsport Ginetta GT5 Challenge points-haul on his Scottish racing debut at Knockhill this weekend. Another mature performance saw the 21-year-old nurse his car home to seventh on Saturday while a sterling drive to fifth on Sunday cemented third in the title fight ahead of the final round.
Persistent overnight rain made for tricky qualifying conditions early on Saturday morning. Once clear of a red flag stoppage early in the session, Wilkinson was on front-running pace to place fourth fastest. Despite a drying track, conditions remained extremely slippy and an excursion into the Clark’s corner gravel trap while pushing through the second sector concluded Ollie’s session. With one second covering the top 11 cars, his best time of 1:01.666 secured fifth fastest, just 0.007 seconds off fourth and four tenths off pole.
As dark clouds loomed for race one on Saturday afternoon, Wilkinson was denied the opportunity to maximise his third-row grid slot due to a failing differential. Green flag racing from lap three, he soon realised he had an issue but held firm in sixth until Ryan Hadfield found a way through.
Managing the difficult balance of conserving pace while embroiled in the fight for fifth, Wilkinson battled on as the rain intensified by the midway marker. A calculated drive saw Ollie relinquish just one further position on his way to successfully nursing his car to the finish line.
Sterling work from the Optimum Motorsport team ensured Wilkinson was ready for race two on Sunday, which got properly underway on lap four following another early safety car. While the top six broke away, Ollie headed the battle for seventh from Max Bird and Katie Milner, keeping the pair at bay right up until the second safety car.
Wilkinson led the fight for fifth from the lap 14 restart, fending off the determined advances of both Bird and a recovering Lewis Brown right up until the penultimate lap when the latter slipped through. With Nick Zapolski now in Wilkinson’s sights, the young Yorkshireman mounted a stellar last lap charge to run side-by-side with the Xentek Motorsport driver and finish just 0.105 adrift of snatching fourth.
Wilkinson commented: “I did everything I could to stay third in the title fight this weekend. I knew I had a problem early-on and it was interesting trying to manage the car while contending with heavy rain on slick tyres. But the conditions really played to our advantage, as I was able to take some stress off the car and nurse it home.
“The Optimum Motorsport boys did a super job overnight to get me back out for race two. Despite some minor issues, we had a good race and take home important points for fifth. Now I’m looking ahead to the final Donington Park round, where I’ll be aiming to finish the season with a final podium.”
For full Prortyre Ginetta GT5 Challenge Knockhill race results visit www.tsl-timing.com