Jody Fannin enjoyed his first ever visit to the Ginetta Junior Championship podium in the best way possible at Brands Hatch Grand Prix Circuit this afternoon, Saturday, 1st May, with a tremendously hard-fought race victory during the fifth round of the season.
Joining the 16-year-old as part of a titanic three-car battle for the win were Rockingham victor Tom Howard and Thruxton race winner Tom Ingram. Fannin, though, retained fantastic composure under huge pressure to take the chequered flag by just 0.098 seconds.
Championship leader Jake Hill managed to hold on to a narrow advantage at the top of the driver standings thanks to a very gutsy fightback following early-race difficulties. Starting on pole position for the fifth time in as many races, the Kent teenager struggled to get away cleanly from the notoriously difficult inside line on the Brands Hatch grid and was muscled out into the first turn.
Dropping down to 15th position on lap two, Hill mounted a superb comeback and closed to within less than four seconds of the top three at the finish with a fine fourth place. During his charge through the order, the Tollbar driver also took a bonus point for the fastest lap of the race – a record for the brand new Ginetta G40 of 1m49.374 seconds (75.73mph).
The day belonged to Fannin though and the TJ Motorsport squad with team-mate Howard a well deserved second, just over a 10th of a second clear of Hillspeed’s Ingram at the flag – once again, the Ginetta Junior drivers provided some outstanding action.
Speaking on his debut win, Fannin said; “The last few laps were so hectic, I had to defend so much at every corner. I thought I had it under control though and just had to keep it tight so nobody could try and pass up the inside. I really, really had to work hard but I won the race so it’s fantastic. For my first podium to be a win is amazing, I’m so pleased.”
While Hill got some unwanted wheel-spin at the start of the race and then got bundled further down the order as he was squeezed out through Paddock Hill Bend, Fannin managed to edge into the lead ahead of Ingram, Howard, Chris Swanwick, Louise Richardson and Alex Austin.
Sliding wide at Graham Hill Bend, pole-sitter Hill lost more ground into Surtees but there was worse luck for reigning champion Sarah Moore who was forced to retire on lap one. Back at the front, the top six started to pull clear of the rest of the pack which was headed by the category’s youngest competitor, Seb Morris, in an excellent seventh position.
Richardson unfortunately came to grief near the end of lap two, resulting in a retirement to the pits, but just as the Safety Car was deployed Morris and Adam Bonham went off into the gravel at the exit of Paddock Hill Bend as the latter challenged for position.
At the re-start on lap five, Fannin continued to lead but Howard got a good run into Paddock and produced a determined move to take second place away from Ingram. Meanwhile, Hill elevated himself into the top six past David Moore at Surtees as his charge gathered momentum.
Although there was never more than a few 10ths of a second between the top three, the positions remained unchanged to the chequered flag on lap eight as Fannin did an incredible job to keep Howard at bay. After moving into fifth at the start of lap six past Austin, Hill went one better midway through the lap to get ahead of Swanwick for fourth position.
Swanwick also lost out to David Moore on the final lap to drop to sixth while Bonham recovered to seventh, Jake Giddings finished in eighth place, William Foster was an impressive ninth and privateer runner Max Coates rounded out the top 10. Austin, meanwhile, went off at the exit of Paddock Hill Bend on the final tour.
Reflecting on his second place finish, Howard said: “I’ve got to hand it to Jody (Fannin), he defended well. I almost had him a couple of times but with him being my team-mate, I had to be a bit wary. It was a close race and there was nothing between us. At the beginning of the season I had a slow start as we didn’t have any testing but at Rockingham last weekend, and now here, we’ve been strong.”
Third placed Ingram added: “I’m really, really pleased. We’ve got solid points from today’s race, which is great for the championship, and we haven’t really got any damage on the car so I couldn’t be going into Sunday any happier. I definitely had the pace today, overall it was a great race and I’m looking forward to more of the same tomorrow.”
The sixth round of the 2010 Ginetta Junior Championship will take place at 13.25 tomorrow, Sunday, 2nd May, and will be screened live on Freeview, digital satellite and cable channel ITV4. Hill starts from pole position ahead of Richardson, Howard, Fannin, Ingram and Austin.
Provisional 2010 Ginetta Junior Championship Positions (after Rd5):1st Jake Hill, 131pts; 2nd Tom Ingram, 126pts; 3rd Tom Howard, 111pts; 4th David Moore, 106pts; 5th Louise Richardson, 100pts; 6th Alex Austin, 96pts