Chadwick remains unstoppable in GT5S Ginettagt5 Challenge
Ollie Chadwick’s double at Croft means he can seal the Ginetta GT5 Challenge at Spa at the start of July, but a photo finish with Ryan Hadfield in race two almost disrupted his dominant showing.
Hadfield’s narrow miss came after he took advantage of a race restart that allowed he and Chadwick to pull clear of eventual third placed man Jonathan Hadfield and the rest of the field.
“The restart is a hard one at Croft,” said Chadwick. “Everyone expects you to floor it out of the hairpin and there’s not many other options to catch people out.”
Hadfield showed that at the half race distance as he finally passed Chadwick on the Jim Clark Esses.
Both drivers would dispute the legality of their moves through the section, but it would count for little when Hadfield went deep at the hairpin on the final lap, allowing Chadwick the crucial gap to take the narrow finish.
“I knew Ollie had pipped me at the finish by about two foot,” said Hadfield. “My wheels ran alongside his door.”
A close finish was in complete contrast to the opener. Hadfield’s clutch problems forced a jumped start and a 10s penalty, which aided Chadwick’s untroubled run to the flag from pole ahead of both Hadfield runners.
Bentley’s return to Le Mans, 71 years after its previous victory, was with the Volkswagen Audi Group-blessed EXP Speed 8. Wallace became one of the modern-day Bentley Boys, sharing his 3.6-litre Audi V8 turbo-engined coupe with Butch Leitzinger and Eric van de Poele.
“The Bentley was a good looking car,” says Wallace. “It had a variant of the Audi V8. It didn’t rev very high because of the restrictor, but it had a massive amount of torque.”
The Bentleys ran with the Audi R8s early on, but a rain shower caused havoc among the leaders.
“Early in the race I was in a line with the Audis and the other Bentley,” recalls Wallace. “Ahead of me was Stefan Johansson in the Gulf Audi and behind was Ralf Kelleners in the Champion Audi. As we got towards Indianapolis the sky opened and it pissed with rain – it was so hard it was hitting the road and bouncing up again. We were all on slicks and all tried to get off the throttle without spinning or making the guy behind hit us.
“Then Stefan started spinning round and round. Just before we got to the corner he speared left and this piece of orange and blue flew into the air. I thought it was the whole car, but it was just the nosecone. I made the apex and the nosecone hit the roof, but didn’t do too much damage. On the way back to the pits one of the Joest cars flew into the gravel as well.”
Both Richard Lloyd-run Bentleys later suffered problems with water in the gearbox compressor, jamming the cars in a high gear. The #7 machine eventually retired, but Wallace coaxed his back to the pits – with the help of some corner cutting – and went on to finish third.
“It was the whole package and did everything well,” he adds. “To finish third overall on its Le Mans debut was a pretty good effort. The Bentley was very driveable, we just weren’t quite able to beat the Audis.”