Ella Lloyd claims tenth victory of the season in the Ginetta GT Championship
Ella Lloyd continued her excellent season in the Ginetta GT Championship by claiming a tenth victory of the year in the GT5 Pro class at Brands Hatch.
Ella Lloyd continued her excellent season in the Ginetta GT Championship by claiming a tenth victory of the year in the GT5 Pro class at Brands Hatch. After narrowly missing out on pole position, the Xentek Motorsport driver immediately took the race lead and defended superbly to claim top honours in the opening race of the weekend.
Despite an off-track moment in race two, Lloyd recovered superbly to claim a podium result, before leading race three until the final lap where contact from her championship rival forced her into retirement.
After a lengthy summer break, Ella was back on track at Brands Hatch following a number of productive tests in single seater machinery. Pre-event testing was held on the Indy circuit with Ella setting the second fastest time among the GT5 Pro runners, less than one tenth of a second away from the quickest lap.
Saturday morning brought the first session on the Grand Prix circuit as drivers were thrown straight into a twenty minute qualifying session. The Xentek Motorsport driver was immediately on the pace, showing particular strength on the high-speed Grand Prix loop. Times were extremely close throughout the session, with Ella losing pole position on the final lap to line up second for race one, while setting the third fastest time to set the grid for race two. The top-3 drivers were separated by less than three hundredths of a second, highlighting the competitive nature of the Ginetta GT Championship with a trio of action-packed races to follow.
Starting race one from second on the grid, Ella made a trademark fast start to grab the lead instantly and hold onto top position as the safety car was deployed. When racing resumed, just one further lap of green flag racing was possible before a second safety car period led to a red flag. Ella handled the restart superbly and held onto the GT5 Pro lead, before being handed a ten second penalty for a false start.
Despite this setback, Lloyd continued to focus forward in the shortened six-minute race to take the checkered flag in first. More good news was to come Ella’s way post-race with the clerk of the course rescinding the penalty to claim her tenth victory of the season.
Lining up third for race two, Ella moved into second on the initial start and crucially overtook championship rival Luke Garlick in the process. Lloyd defended well from Garlick in the opening stages who continued to apply pressure, knowing that fine margins would decide the championship. On lap six, Ella made a small mistake and collected an advertising hoarding which forced her into the pits to remove the debris.
Despite dropping to the rear of the GT5 Pro field, a fortunate safety car was then immediately deployed to allow the Xentek Motorsport driver to close up to her rivals. Upon the restart, Lloyd kept it clean and moved into fourth, a position she held to the line before inheriting a podium spot following a time penalty for on-the-road winner Will Rochford.
After her 16th podium finish of the season, Ella was aiming to affirm her championship lead in the final race at Brands Hatch. Lloyd made a trademark fast start and took the lead at the conclusion of lap one, holding onto the position by just two tenths of a second. The top two drivers were then able to break away from the field, with Ella defending smartly from rival Garlick.
Placing her car superbly and not putting a foot wrong during the race, Lloyd look set to claim an 11th victory before Garlick made contact her Ella on the final lap of the race. This sent Lloyd into the gravel trap with Garlick claiming victory and although responsibility was apportioned to her rival, only a 30 second penalty was applied which meant Garlick still scored 30 points and snatched the championship lead from Ella.
"Mixed weekend at Brands this weekend qualifying P2 and P3 for race 1 and 2", Lloyd summed up. "Race 1 we took the lead from the first corner and lead the race to the chequered flag, race 2 we had another productive first lap gaining a position to P2. Unfortunately due to running wide and collecting a banner restricting the air intake to the engine I needed to pit but made my way back up to finish P3."
"Race 3 we started P3 with another amazing first lap taking the lead and defending the lead until the final lap where I got taken out from contact from another car putting me in the gravel and ending my race."
Ella now sits six points behind Garlick in the championship standings with one round remaining and over 100 points still up for grabs. Lloyd will rightly feel aggrieved by the move which cost her the advantage heading into the final three races, but she should be encouraged by her speed which has been consistently strong in GT5 Pro.
The final round of the Ginetta GT Championship takes place at Donington Park on the weekend of October 21st/22nd and will surely lead to a thrilling finale with just six points separating Ella and her championship rival.