Katie Milner completes debut Ginetta GT5 Challenge season
Katie Milner has enjoyed a successful final weekend competing in the Ginetta GT5 Challenge at Donington. The former Junior Saloon Car champion faced a frustrating start to the weekend, but showed great character to fight back with two top-10 finishes, including a superb sixth in the final race of the weekend, showing a superb display of defensive driving. Milner’s debut season of senior racing has been extremely encouraging and she should be pleased with the progress she has made stepping up into the championship with Team One Call.
Following a positive test day leading up to the weekend, Katie was confident ahead of qualifying for the final meeting of the season. Immediately on the pace, Milner jumped inside the top-5 during the first portion of the session to signify her intent for the weekend. After a brief stay in the pits, Katie returned to the track for the final six minutes of the session but was unable to improve her time, qualifying 14th for the opening race at Donington. Despite qualifying outside the top-10, there was evidently more speed to cover and Katie would be one to watch in the first race later that day.
Aiming to make progress from the seventh row of the grid, Milner made a good start amongst a very close pack of drivers and moved into 13th at the end of the opening lap. Shortly after, the safety car was deployed to retrieve Luke Pinder’s car, but a quick recovery meant that only one lap was spent under controlled conditions before the racing resumed. Katie made a good restart despite losing out to the hard-charging Ollie Wilkinson and enjoyed close battles throughout the third lap before the race was brought to a premature end with a red flag. Sadly, the race wasn’t restarted with Katie scored in the 13th position, a disappointing end to what had promised to be a positive start to the weekend.
Once again lining up on the seventh row of the grid for race two, Katie was determined to make further progress with the prospect of a reverse grid draw for the season finale. After dropping one position on the opening lap to Ginetta veteran Rob Boston, Milner began her march forward by picking up two places on the following lap, before gaining a further two on lap four as she entered the top-10. Katie then enjoyed a close battle with Luke Pinder, enabling both drivers to show off their racecraft while moving through the order. Despite some good laps in the closing stages, Milner couldn’t quite fight back, coming across the line in 10th before being promoted to 9th following a penalty for one of her rivals.
Katie was drawn onto the outside of the front row with the top-10 positions reversed for the season finale at Donington. Making a good start, Milner moved ahead of polesitter Steven Wells on the opening lap before crossing the line in second as Ryan Hadfield took the lead. Smart defending on the second lap ensured Katie maintained the runner-up position with a host of cars looking to claim the final podium positions. Lap three saw Milner drop to fourth, but her pace was encouraging as she able to hold faster cars behind her for an extended period at a circuit with plenty of overtaking opportunities. Two laps later Katie was shuffled back to sixth and shortly after the red flag was brought out, enabling Milner to claim a solid top-10 finish in her final Ginetta GT5 Challenge race of the season.
Katie’s debut season in the Ginetta GT5 Challenge has shown to be a successful one, with the step up from junior racing into a car with many new elements proving to be a real test. The combination of slick tyres, rear-wheel drive and learning a variety of new circuits has enabled Milner to develop considerably as a driver in one of the most competitive championships in the country. The future is bright for Katie who will be looking forward to getting back out on track later in the year, before focussing on her plans for the 2018 season.