Hard-charging Ashley Gregory shows her speed at Donington Park
Ashley Gregory showed fantastic speed in her drives through the field in the Vertu Motors Mini Challenge Trophy at Donington, gaining 10 positions in race 1, as well as in the opening two laps of race 3, which highlighted her overtaking prowess.
Ashley Gregory once again impressed in the Vertu Motors Mini Challenge Trophy with a stunning display of overtaking at Donington Park. After qualifying in 24th, Ashley made up ten positions in the opening race to finish 14th, running as high as 13th on the penultimate lap. Despite a challenging race two in wet conditions, Gregory once again fought back superbly to gain ten positions in the first two laps, before a mechanical issue ended her race as she targeted a top-10 spot.
Coming off a career best weekend at Croft where Ashley led a number of laps and claimed an overall podium finish, she was looking to build upon this result at Donington Park. Beginning the meeting with two free practice sessions on Thursday, Gregory ended the first session 19th overall, before finishing with the second session 23rd. With a variety of strategies taken by teams across the day, Saturday morning’s qualifying session would give a clearer picture ahead of three races to come across the weekend.
Despite the threat of rain, dry conditions graced Donington Park ahead of what would be a fiercely-contested qualifying session. Ashley found a further seven tenths of a second from her best practice lap and although losing three faster laps due to track limits infringements, Gregory qualified 24th and knew further progress could be made across the three races.
Aiming to make immediate improvements in race one, Ashley made a fantastic start and gained four positions on the opening lap to move into 20th.
Lap two saw Gregory make two further overtakes, firstly passing debutant Tommy Gilham and then Graves Motorsport driver Daniel Armstrong, while setting her fastest lap of the weekend in the process. Another personal best time on lap five saw Gregory improve by over a second from qualifying, while ensuring she closed in on the pack of drivers ahead.
Ashley’s improved pace, combined with her excellent racecraft, saw her pass Chandler Motorsport driver Reece Lycett for 17th on lap six.
Following a close battle with Gilham and Cameron Richardson, Gregory avoided an incident on lap 10 to gain four positions and move into a race-high 13th. Leading a small group of drivers on the final lap was set to be tough with the slipstreaming effect extremely powerful, however Ashley lost just the one position to Ben Jenkins as she crossed the line 14th to gain ten places from her starting position, while also finishing as the sixth highest rookie.
After a brilliant charging drive in race one, Ashley would face an extra challenge in race two on Sunday morning with wet conditions for the Vertu Motors Mini Challenge Trophy drivers. Starting from 14th courtesy of her race one result, Gregory kept it clean and although dropped to 18th at the end of the opening lap, she gained back one position on lap two. Fighting with Andy Cobb for a position just inside the top-20, Ashley lost out to her fellow rookie class driver on lap six as she dropped to 20th overall.
It was a tough race for Ashley who battled hard in the tricky conditions and although falling to 24th on lap eight, she enjoyed a great battle with LDR Performance Tuning driver Jamie Keates. Slipping to a low of 25th, Gregory was determined to fight back in the closing stages and gained two positions to finish 23rd overall, 12th in the rookie classification while setting her fastest time on the final lap of the race.
Determined to move forward from 23rd in race three in dry conditions, Ashley made a brilliant start to gain six position as she ended the opening lap in 17th. Showing the speed she displayed in the first race of the weekend, Gregory continued her charge through the field on lap two, moving into 13th. Among these overtakes was a brilliant move round the outside of Cameron Richardson at McLeans, captured on Ashley’s onboard camera and subsequently shown on live tv.
Misfortune then struck as Gregory suffered a mechanical failure at the Old Hairpin on lap three, ending her race prematurely after a fantastic start.
Despite not matching the results from Croft, Ashley showed fantastic speed in her drives through the field in races one and three. Moving from 24th to 14th in race one was a particular highlight, improving on her times significantly from qualifying. Gaining ten places in the opening two laps of race three showed her overtaking prowess and this performance will serve her well as she closes out her rookie campaign in the championship.
The next round of the Vertu Motors Mini Challenge Trophy will take place on the Silverstone National circuit on the weekend of 16th/17th September where close-quarters racing and slipstreaming will be guaranteed.