The North Yorkshire youngster travelled to Kent still in contention for the closely-fought Rookie Championship with two races to go, also hoping to add to his three podium finishes from earlier in the season.
The Redline Racing man was greeted with changeable conditions throughout the weekend, but showed strong top-four pace in testing as the track dried out to signal intent ahead of the main action over the weekend. That pace was converted in spectacular fashion on Saturday afternoon when McKenna set a hot lap in wet conditions good enough to grab pole position by 0.002s, in doing so becoming only the second driver all season to clinch the coveted top spot on the grid in qualifying.
With the advantage heading into the first of the weekend’s two races, McKenna battled worsening conditions in an intense opening contest. Battling to hold the lead into turn one, McKenna lost the lead into Druids for the first time, but chased after the new leader on cold tyres.
Last year’s Ginetta GT5 Challenge champion fell to third but showed his defensive skills to fend off rookie rival Lorcan Hanafin for many laps before the latter lost control and spun into the gravel, resulting in a safety car interruption. On the restart, McKenna settled into third place with a podium finish on the cards, but found himself closing on the tense lead fight between Harry King and Matty Graham.
Graham attacked on the wide line at Druids and as McKenna hugged the kerb to evade the battling duo, he and Graham made contact as the latter returned to the inside line, resulting in a puncture for McKenna and a spin for Graham in an unfortunate end to the lead dice. 16th place meant McKenna was forced to start from the back row of the grid for the drier second race the following afternoon, and he would be among three charging rookies looking to make up ground from the rear of the field.
From last place at the first corner, McKenna quickly found his feet and passed three cars in the opening two laps, soon making his way around the remaining Am Class competitors into 12th place. He then moved his 911 ahead of Esmee Hawkey and Ryan Ratcliffe and swiftly clawed onto the tail of Graham and Hanafin.
A safety car had closed the field up prior to that and gained McKenna another spot into eighth place, before a superb double overtaking move on the inside of Aaron Mason and Graham caught the battling pair unaware heading into Paddock Hill Bend to advance the BRDC Rising Star to sixth place on the road after a stellar drive. Sixth on the road, a track limits time penalty dropped McKenna to seventh but did not divert from the fact he gained 10 spots in the race – the most of anybody on the grid.
Despite flirting with further podiums, McKenna ended a fine rookie season on three podiums and sixth place in the overall championship standings, fourth of the rookies in a close and highly competitive maiden season in the one-make series.
Scott McKenna (#82 Redline Racing):
“I think we can all be proud with how we’ve done in out first season of Carrera Cup GB. We’ve been in the mix for a lot of it, we almost won at Knockhill and we’ve finished it with great pace and a pole position which sets us up for more positives in the near future.
“It’s gutting what happened in race one; conditions were crazy, but we were sitting pretty and looking on for another podium – maybe even a win – until receiving contact from my team-mate at Druids which unfortunately left myself with a puncture sending me to the back of the race.
“What I can take away from the weekend is that I was the only other driver to take a pole position this season, which felt amazing and I’m proud to have achieved that for the team who have supported me all season, along with all my loyal sponsors that have allowed us to go racing in this unique season.
“I gave it everything in the second race and the car felt great all the way through. It just got faster and faster and I found my way through the traffic in some great battles. A good race to end on and more positions gained in a single race than any other driver in Carrera Cup this season. It’s a shame fans weren’t able to be there to see it in person.”
Weekend write up: Dan Mason
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