Cook enjoys perfect Ginetta Junior ..

Season start

Jake Cook made a perfect start to his 2009 campaign at Brands Hatch Indy Circuit today, Saturday, 4th April, during the opening round of the Ginetta Junior Championship with Henderson Insurance; the 15-year-old taking a hard-fought victory ahead of fellow category returnee Aaron Williamson.

Serving up action aplenty, as is the way when the exciting Ginetta Junior runners visit Kent’s world-famous 1.2-mile track, the story of the first race of the year was a titanic battle between pole-sitter Cook, rookie namesake Jake Hill and the rapid Alex Austin.

Qualifying on pole position with a time of 58.127 seconds (74.23mph), two 10ths of a second clear of his closest rival, the TJ Motorsport racer was beaten away from the line at the beginning of round one by the fast-starting Hill who rocketed from second on the grid into a commanding early lead.

Austin maintained third in his Tockwith Motorsport machine with team-mate David Moore, younger brother of fellow Ginetta Junior competitor Sarah and also of reigning Ginetta G50 champion Nigel, making a superb start to his car racing debut.

Qualifying an excellent fourth on the grid, Moore slipped to fifth at the start behind Mitchell Hale but the latter had a slide at Graham Hill Bend part-way through lap one which enabled the youngest of the Moore siblings to nip back through.

Into lap two, Hill and Cook ran side-by-side through the fearsome Paddock Hill Bend with Cook soon moving back ahead into the lead. In the meantime, an unfortunate problem for Moore resulted in the youngster pulling off the circuit. He did rejoin moments later but ended up in 15th place – a disappointing end to an otherwise positive debut.

Williamson, who started the race in sixth position, was by now up into the top four and beginning to close on the trio of front-runners. As the race approached mid-distance, Cook held an advantage of just under a second from Austin in second place with Hill now back in third and Williamson edging ever nearer.

Cook’s lead doubled by the start of lap seven with Hill moving back ahead of Austin but the outcome of the latter’s race was determined by an incident involving a backmarker at Surtees on lap eight – Jake Giddings making contact with Austin as the front-runners lapped him. Knocking Austin down to sixth place, Giddings had also unwittingly delayed Hill moments earlier as he fought with the leader.

With five laps to go, Cook looked to have the race in the bag with a 2.5 second cushion over Hill with Williamson two seconds further back in the final podium placing. However, the leader hadn’t bargained for a moment for Chris Swanwick at Clearways which resulted in the youngster ending his race in the gravel trap.

This resulted in the deployment of the Ginetta G50 Safety Car at the beginning of lap 11 and after three laps on track, the race was re-started with one racing lap remaining. Cook got away well into the 14th and final tour after backing the pack up on the previous lap and led by six 10ths of a second over the start/finish line.

Behind, Hill ran wide out of Paddock Hill Bend and ended up spinning into the gravel and a very unfortunate retirement, having looked a cert for second place at the very least. Securing the bonus point for fastest lap was scant consolation. Cook went on to take a deserved win with Williamson an excellent second, Hale a highly creditable third and Austin recovering into fourth place.

Commenting on the victory, Cook said: “I got too much wheelspin at the start which let Jake (Hill) get past me but I was pretty happy with how the race was going and when I got the lead back I just didn’t want a Safety Car! I made a good job of the re-start though and ended up winning the race. It’s a perfect start to the year for me and my team.”

Thomas Howard raced well from 11th on the grid into fifth place at the finish, four 10ths of a second ahead of Max McGuire who, in turn, was six 10ths of a second to the good over Ashley Craig. Louise Richardson won the battle of the girls with a solid eighth place finish on her car racing debut, just over a second clear of Sarah Moore.

Round two of the 2009 Ginetta Junior Championship with Henderson Insurance will take place at around 11.20 tomorrow morning, Sunday, 5th April, at Brands Hatch Indy Circuit in Kent. There is the possibility the race will be screened ‘as-live’ during the afternoon coverage of the HiQ MSA British Touring Car Championship event on Freeview, cable and digital satellite channel ITV4.

Cook will once again start from pole position with Hill alongside him on the front-row while Williamson and Austin start in third and fourth places respectively.

Provisional 2009 Ginetta Junior Championship with Henderson Insurance Positions (after Rd1):1st Jake Cook, 36pts; 2nd Aaron Williamson, 30pts; 3rd Mitchell Hale, 26pts; 4th Alex Austin, 22pts; 5th Thomas Howard, 20pts; 6th Max McGuire, 18pts

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