Mark Davies and Sean Huyton shared the wins at Oulton Park today, Saturday, in the opening rounds of the Ginetta Challenge in their Ginetta G40s. Gary Simms won both races in the G20 class.

Davies took the win in the opening 20-minute race but retired from race two after contact with Clive Richards at Island Bend. Huyton starred taking the win from sixth on the grid.

Race one
Mark Davies (Optimum Motorsport) qualified on pole position for the opening race and darted away from the opposition to lead Mike Robinson (TCR) into Old Hall Corner. Behind ran Richard Sykes (HHC Motorsport), Clive Richards (Colards Motorsport), Ryan Ratcliffe (Piranha Motorsport) and Phil House (HHC Motorsport), but House moved ahead of the Welshman at Hislop’s.

Tree surgeon Richards moved up to third at Old Hall while House moved ahead of his team-mate Sykes at Cascades, who in turn started to feel the pressure exerted by Sean Huyton (Academy Motorsport). The Ormskirk driver wriggled past Sykes while Ratcliffe had a spin at Knickerbrook, which dropped him to 16th place. House needed to take the grass in avoidance and he, too, lost time.

Up front, Davies led but Robinson was caught by Richards for second place, the former Caterham champion snatching second at Shell Oils Corner. Once ahead, Richards tried to catch Davies who was 8.5 seconds up the road, but the gap was too great. Behind Robinson, Huyton set the fastest lap and was closing on Robinson for third.

Behind the leading quartet, Sykes and House engaged in a fierce fight for fifth place, Sykes keeping the former Volkswagen champion at bay until the end.

Davies ran out the winner by 6.9 seconds from Richards with Robinson third ahead of Huyton, Sykes and House.

The battle for honours in the G20 class, for the older 1800cc open-top cars, was as frantic as ever. Stuart Pearson led but was immediately under pressure from Gary Simms (Optimum Motorsport) and Matt Flowers. When Pearson ran wide at Cascades on lap four, Simms moved himself in to the class lead but was chased to the end by Pearson, while Flowers fell back behind some of the slower G40s.

Race two
Davies made a good start from pole position to head the field into old Hall, but Sykes braved it out on the outside diving into the first corner. Eventually, Sykes ran wide and lost ground allowing Clive Richards and a quick-starting Sean Huyton ahead, while Sykes regrouped in fourth spot. His team-mate Philip House was in trouble, though, as he coasted out of Britten’s and into retirement – a fuse blew which in turn supplied the majority of the power to the dash. House was out on the spot.

As Davies led, Huyton was the star turn: he bagged second place at Cascades on lap two from Richards and then charged after Davies. He caught the leader on the run to Hislop’s and a stunning move around the outside gave him the race lead. Davies tried to stay with him but he was caught by Richards and Robinson, despite Davies having impressive car speed out of Old Hall, which lap after lap allowed him to close on Huyton.

Matters came to a head on lap six when Davies, Richards and Robinson tried to go three-wide towards Hislop’s. They survived but a lap later Richards and Davies went side-by-side into Island Bend but, with only room for one car, Davies ran off the road and into retirement.

That allowed Huyton to bag the win with Richards and Robinson repeating their race one finishing positions of second and third. Sykes took fourth ahead of Scotsman Rory Bryant (Piranha Motorsport), with Ryan Ratcliffe in sixth.

“The team gave me a really good car today,” said Huyton. “It was a great race and I have to say thanks to Mark (Davies) because he gave me room when I challenged for the lead. This is a great result!”

While Huyton was a clear winner in the G40 division, the G20s were won by Gary Simms after a very hard fight. Matt Flowers led initially but Simms found himself boxed in behind a number of G40s. Having worked his way on to the tail of Flowers, light rain for a couple of laps made the track difficult. The treaded tyres on the G20s allowed Simms and Flowers more traction than the slick-shod G40s, and they were able to move up the overall order but Simms finally usurped Flowers for the class lead. On the last lap, though, Simms lost third gear and needed to make the car extremely wide to keep Flowers behind him.

“I went into Old Hall and found neutral, not third,” explained Simms. I found fourth and came out of the corner but Matt had the speed on the last lap and I really had to work to win that one!”

Richards’ two second places give him a one-point championship lead over Huyton with the next brace of races at Snetterton on May 14/5.