The 2017 Ginetta GT5 Challenge returned to the British GT Championship support package last weekend after the penultimate round was held at Knockhill as one of two visits to the British Touring Car support package this season. Following a mixed weekend in the Scottish highlands, Bird remained well inside the championship top five and was keen to end his impressive debut season with some strong results.
With two days of pre-event practice available at Donington Park in preparation for the weekend’s final trio of races, it was Bird who emerged the favourite to take the spoils as one of the fastest drivers on circuit in the mixed conditions.
When the real business end of proceedings got underway first thing on Saturday morning, the Chichester driver’s pace was confirmed as he dominated qualifying to secure a pole position start for the first race of the weekend by over half a second.
Despite initially getting a good start, fellow front row starter Ryan Hadfield got a better one and chopped across into the first corner to take the lead. Over the course of the opening lap, Rob Boston and Lewis Brown also managed to find their way past, demoting Bird to fourth. However within just two laps the red flags were out, and with time constraints on the event, the race was declared after just three racing laps. As Boston wasn’t running at the time of the red flag, this promoted Max to third and his first podium finish of the weekend.
Getting Sunday’s proceedings underway as the first class on circuit, Bird was once again starting from the front row. A better start this time round put the youngster into the lead and set off an intense battle for the top spot with Brown. With the pair swapping positions on almost every tour, cruelly the battle would end in disaster for Bird who dropped back to sixth on the final lap following a spin.
For the third and final race, Bird was set to start from the inside of row three and keen to propel himself up the order as quickly as possible. When the lights went out, Max didn’t waste any time and by the end of the opening lap was already up to fourth. Now hot on the heels of pole man Steven Wells, it wasn’t long before he was past and into the top three. Now it was a battle for the final two podium positions with Luke Pinder. The pair were closely matched and swapped positions on a number of occasions before Bird maintained the upper hand to secure second place at the chequered flag and fourth overall in the 2017 Ginetta GT5 Challenge Championship.
Max Bird – #44 Century Motorsport Ginetta G40:
“It’s been a brilliant season that came good at the end. This weekend started really well with pole from qualifying. Then in the races we had a third place finish on Saturday and second in the final race on Sunday which was a great way to finish the season. I’d just like to thank Century Motorsport for all the help they’ve given me this season, without them I wouldn’t have been able to secure the results we did.”
Nathan Freke – Team Principal, Century Motorsport:
“Our return to the Ginetta GT5 Challenge has been a very pleasant experience overall. We had some fantastic results at the sharp end of the field this year with Max Bird and also had the chance to help Sami Saarelainen through his limited programme to develop and come on with every lap. Max has had a great season, starting on such a high at Oulton Park and since then he’s had more good weekends than bad ones. This is a very competitive championship, so to finish inside the top five in his first season with a couple of very strong podium results is a fantastic achievement and something we’re all very proud of.”