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  • Writer's pictureLIAM REDFORD

Ashley Gregory inside the top-10 on her return to the Vertu Mini Challenge Trophy

It was a brilliant start to the season for Ashley Gregory, who scored three great results at Snetterton in the Vertu Mini Challenge Trophy: gaining positions in every race of the event and finishing a brilliant seventh overall in race three, she now sits tenth in the overall championship.

Charlotte Birch, 2024 Milltek Sport Civic Cup, Brands Hatch
Photo credits: JEP

Ashley Gregory began her second season in the Vertu Mini Challenge Trophy with three encouraging results at Snetterton. After qualifying 14th, Gregory gained positions in every race of the event, finishing a brilliant seventh overall in race three. As a second-year driver, Ashley is also eligible for the Graduate Cup and finished inside the top-10 of this sub-category in every race, scoring a top-5 in Sunday’s final contest.

Ashley enjoyed a promising rookie campaign in the Vertu Mini Challenge Trophy where she showed flashes of brilliance, while competing as a privateer entry. The meeting at Croft was a particular highlight where Gregory competed for the overall victory in both races as she challenged multiple race-winners on her way to a podium finish. Now in her second year in the series, Gregory is eligible for Graduate Cup honours with the fastest sophomore drivers battling it out for a parallel championship.

Snetterton was a challenging meeting for Gregory in 2023 with a best result of 13th overall and she arrived into the weekend targeting a result towards the front of the field. After a productive test session leading up the event, Ashley took to the track for qualifying on Saturday morning.

It was a consistent session of improvement for Gregory who set the 14th fastest time, while finishing inside the top-10 of those eligible for the Graduate Cup. Setting a lap time just a second away from the fourth-place driver, it was clear that there was significant room for improvement within the races.

A new regulation for the 2024 season meant that the drivers second fastest times from qualifying would set the grid for race one, meaning Ashley would line up 15th. Gregory made an excellent start, using her experience to gain three positions to end the opening lap in 12th place. These overtakes had, however, cost her time and she now had a gap to bridge to challenge those inside the top-10.

Gregory’s pace was consistently strong and this allowed her to slowly close in on the drivers ahead. By lap four, she had caught Luca Marinoni Osborne and enjoyed an excellent battle with the Excelr8 Motorsport driver. The pair remained in close contact right through to the checkered flag, with Ashley finishing the first race of the season in 12th place, ninth among those in the Graduate Cup.

The grid positions for race two of the weekend were set based on the race one results, with a partial reverse grid. With the top-10 overall positions reversed, Gregory was unlucky not to claim pole position, but was looking ahead to racing amongst some of the fastest drivers. Making a fast start, Ashley was up to 11th at the end of lap one, before setting the fastest first sector of any driver on lap two.

After Rhys Hurd made his way past, a series of fantastic battles saw Ashley remain in contention for a top-10 position. On lap five, Luca Marinoni Osborne moved ahead as Gregory fell to 13th, however with a sizeable gap now behind her Ashley was able to focus forward.

This advantageous position immediately paid dividends as passed both Hurd and Harvey Riby on lap six, before mounting a late challenge for a top-10 spot. Finishing race two in 11th overall, Gregory was sixth among the Graduate Cup drivers and displayed pace which was comparable to those at the head of the class.

The third and final race of the weekend began with Ashley starting in 14th courtesy of her fastest lap time from qualifying. Another good start saw her gain one position on the first lap, before settling into 13th while the group ahead battled for position. On lap four, Gregory remained 13th but had moved ahead of Callum Eason, while Gabe Fairbrother found a way past her.

The racing at Snetterton continued to grow in intensity with Gregory capitalising on battles ahead to move inside the top-10 at the end of lap five. Once again navigating tight battles, Ashley overtook both James Black and Jamie Keates on the sixth lap to move into seventh position overall, her highest running position of the weekend. Setting her personal best time on the final lap, it was an excellent end to the weekend for Ashley who finished race three in seventh, while claiming fifth place in the Graduate Cup.

It was a brilliant start to the season for Gregory who scored three great results at Snetterton. Racing clean while in the thick of the action is always a challenge, but Ashley’s experience paid off to secure an excellent seventh place result in race three. As a result of these consistent performances, Gregory sits tenth in the overall championship, while lying seventh in the Graduate Cup, just six points away from fourth.

Ashley will be aiming to build upon this momentum as the Vertu Mini Challenge Trophy drivers head to Pembrey in Wales for round two of the championship on the weekend of 18th/19th May.



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