Dino Zamparelli (Redline Racing) maintained his championship lead of the
Jamie Orton (JTR) emerged from the weekend retaining his lead of the Pro-Am championship, despite retiring from race 1 and starting near the back in race 2. However, two category victories for Seb Perez (Amigos Team Parker) and two podium finishes for Dan Vaughan (Motorbase Performance) will have Orton looking over his shoulder. Category glory for Peter Kyle-Henney (IN2 Racing) in race 1, and Iain Dockerill (Asset Advantage Racing) in race 2 also ensured the continuation of a close Am championship battle.
Zamparelli, who is of part Italian heritage, was challenged for his win in race 1 and second place finish in race 2 at Autodromo Nazionale Monza’s famous high-speed circuit by championship rival Tio Ellinas (Slidesports Engineering). Ellinas finished on the podium in both races directly behind Zamparelli, just six points now separate the Pro category drivers at the top of the championship table.
Dan Harper (JTR) took his maiden pole position in qualifying for round five of the championship, with team mate Lewis Plato (JTR) alongside him on the front row, overall championship points leader Dino Zamparelli (Redline Racing) started from third on the grid. All 22 cars lined up in scorching Italian temperatures for a timed race of 28 minutes duration.
Of the top three qualifiers it was Plato who made the best start moving clear of Harper to lead the race, Zamparelli also overtook the 17-year-old
As the rest of the pack concertinaed together behind Harper and Plato several drivers made contact with one another, spun, or took avoiding action by leaving the track. Former BTCC star James Kaye (GT Marques) came together with Jamie Orton (JTR), Orton collided with Will Bratt (IN2 Racing), the incident resulting in retirement for both – Kaye continued his race. In order to clear the four stricken cars from the track the Safety Car was immediately called into service.
With 20 minutes of the race remaining, the Safety Car returned to the pit lane leaving Zamparelli to lead George Gamble (Amigos Team Parker) and Tio Ellinas (Slidesports Engineering) at the restart. Seb Perez (Amigos Team Parker) was the best placed Pro-Am driver in fifth position overall, Esmee Hawkey (GT Marques) was running close behind in sixth – Greg Caton (G-Cat Racing) occupied third position in the Pro-Am category. Shamus Jennings (G-Cat Racing) was the highest placed Am driver, with Peter Kyle-Henney (IN2 Racing) and Peter Mangion (Team Parker Racing) second and third in category respectively.
At just over half distance Zamparelli led Gamble, the pair trading fastest overall lap times, with Tom Wrigley (JTR) and Ellinas not far behind. Battles also raged in Pro-Am between Caton and Dan Vaughan (Motorbase Performance), Jennings and Kyle-Henney in Am – all four cars were nose to tail in an exciting dice for position. Vaughan eventually led Caton for third in Pro-Am, Kyle-Henney moved into the lead of the Am category ahead of Jennings with Iain Dockerill (Asset Advantage Racing) in third.
With 10 minutes of the race remaining just half a second covered Gamble, Ellinas and Wrigley in the chase for second position overall, the closely matched trio put pressure on one another at every opportunity through Monza’s sweeping corners and down its long straights. Meanwhile, Vaughan mounted a serious challenge on Caton for the final Pro-Am podium place, the pair battling side by side through Variante Ascari, Vaughan eventually coming out ahead. In Am, Dockerill passed Jennings for second position in the category.
Just a few minutes from the end of the timed race Zamparelli had managed to build a five second lead over Gamble in second. Ellinas was closer than ever to Gamble who then visited the gravel trap at Curva Parabolica, Ellinas moving to P2 and Wrigley to P3 as a result. Gamble continued his race in fourth, which is the order in which the Pro runners crossed the finish line. In Pro-Am, Perez maintained his lead of the category with Hawkey taking second, Vaughan occupied the final category podium spot. Kyle-Henney secured Am victory ahead of Dockerill and Jennings.
For his part in the first corner incident on the opening lap of the race Harper was disqualified from the final classification, he also receives a deduction of four points from his race licence and is docked eight championship points. Furthermore for the first corner incident involving him, Rookie Kaye receives two points on his race licence and is docked two championship points.
As part of the 2018 podium procedure, overall winner Zamparelli selected at random the number 6 ball, which reverses the grid positions of the top six overall race finishers from round five. This formed the starting grid for round six; Hawkey, Perez, Gamble, Wrigley, Ellinas and Zamparelli.
Rookie Esmee Hawkey (GT Marques) started on pole for the 28 minute reverse grid race ahead of Seb Perez (Amigos Team Parker), directly behind on the second row came George Gamble (Amigos Team Parker) and Tom Wrigley (JTR). On the second of the two formation laps Gary Eastwood (G-Cat Racing) pulled into the pit lane from the eighth row resulting in 21 cars making the start in dry and sunny conditions.
When the lights went out Hawkey and Perez got good traction from the front row, Gamble and Wrigley also made good starts from row two – all four were bunched together in the first few metres away from the start line. In the run down to the first corner Pro-Am runner Justin Sherwood (Team Parker Racing) and Am runner Peter Kyle-Henney (IN2 Racing) collided ending their races. Several cars made contact with one another before continuing, Will Bratt (IN2 Racing) and Fraser Robertson (Redline Racing) also retired as a result of the first corner melee. The two Amigos Team Parker drivers, Gamble and Perez, headed the field out of Rettifilio before the Safety Car was immediately called into action to clear the stricken vehicles of Sherwood and Kyle-Henney.
At the restart with 20 minutes of the race remaining, Pro runner Gamble led Pro-Am category team mate Perez from Tio Ellinas (Slidesports Engineering). Of the rest of the Pro-Am category runners pole sitter Hawkey was second in P3 overall with Dan Vaughan (Motorbase Performance) third in category – P7 overall. In Am, Iain Dockerill (Asset Advantage Racing) occupied the category lead followed by Shamus Jennings (G-Cat Racing) and Richard Hawken (Slidesports Engineering).
With 15 minutes of racing to go, Ellinas ran wide at Curva Parabolica while mounting a challenge on Perez for P2, championship rival Dino Zamparelli (Redline Racing) took advantage moving up from P4 to P3, his run also carrying him past Perez for P2 overall. Shortly afterwards a recovering Ellinas put a pass on Perez at Ascari making the order at the front: Gamble, Zamparelli, Ellinas. With 12 minutes of racing remaining, Hawkey spun going into Parabolica from second place in a closely contested Pro-Am category fight, soon afterwards Greg Caton (G-Cat Racing) passed Vaughan at the first Lesmo for P2. In the Am category Dockerill maintained his lead while behind Rookie Peter Mangion (Team Parker Racing) overtook Shamus Jennings (G-Cat Racing) for second in Am.
As the race reached its conclusion, Gamble, Zamparelli and Ellinas were running nose to tail, Gamble being forced to defend his lead from a looming Zamparelli. In Pro-Am, Caton spun at Ascari with only five minutes of the race remaining before coming into the pits where his race ended, the incident allowed Vaughan to retake P2 in the category ahead of a recovering Jamie Orton (JTR). Pro-Am points leader Orton had gradually worked his way up through the pack having started the race on the penultimate row – a result of his retirement in the first race.
Rookie Gamble crossed the line to clinch overall victory, his second of the season, with Zamparelli and Ellinas taking the remaining podium places. Newcomer Perez claimed top honours in Pro-Am, followed across the line by Vaughan and Orton. Category winner Dockerill was joined on the Am podium by Mangion and Jennings. For his performance Perez was handed the Driver of the Weekend accolade, Amigos Team Parker were awarded Team of the Weekend.
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