Newly crowned Ginetta Junior Champion Seb Morris confirmed his title success with a strong drive to second place at Brands Hatch Grand Prix Circuit today, Sunday, 2nd October, while victory for Charlie Robertson marked his third win of 2011.
As on Saturday, round 18 took place in searing heat with the Indian summer truly taking hold over Kent throughout the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship weekend. Making the action evermore challenging for the teenage racers in Ginetta Junior, Robertson and Morris headed home Niall Murray and Brad Bailey in a true grandstand finish – just 0.3 seconds covering the top four.
For George Gamble, his challenge for the Vice-Champion’s position was dealt a blow when he was unable to take the start. His TJ Motorsport crew did a fantastic job to get his car race-ready following a major accident on Saturday afternoon but further problems struck just prior to the beginning.
With the pole-starter eliminated from proceedings, his team-mate Sennan Fielding assumed the top spot on the grid but after a good initial launch he then stuttered which allowed HHC Motorsport’s Myles Collins through to the lead ahead of Bailey, William Foster, Robertson and Jake Giddings.
As the cars headed out onto the Grand Prix loop, Foster and Fielding came to grief after a chaotic couple of corners so by the end of lap one Collins led Bailey, Giddings, Robertson and Morris. After taking third at Druids on lap two, Robertson set his sights on Bailey but Giddings hit back at Druids the next time around.
On lap four, Giddings ran wide at Paddock Hill Bend giving Robertson another chance to nip through for third place into Druids and Morris seized his chance to also go past Giddings. Again though, the FML driver struck back out of Pilgrim’s Drop to pass Morris who was then caught-up in a very tight moment with Patrick McClughan.
As Collins and Bailey continued to lead, Robertson ran 1.7 seconds adrift in third with Morris once more moving through to fourth past Giddings out of Clark Curve at the end of lap five. An attempt to re-challenge only resulted in Giddings leaving the door open at Druids though and the sensational Murray sliced past to fifth in his Beacon Racing car – having scythed through from last on the grid.
Robertson rapidly closed-in to the two leaders but on lap seven, drama – Collins got out of shape exiting Paddock Hill and spun into the gravel and with nowhere to go, Bailey had to plough into the gravel trap himself to avoid an accident. Robertson gratefully threaded his way through to assume the lead while Morris went second and Murray moved into third.
Over the final 2.3 miles, Robertson was put under incredible pressure by the new champion but he soaked it up superbly to win by 0.1 seconds. Murray almost got second from Morris on the line, just 0.066 seconds shy of the Hillspeed racer, with Bailey only another 10th of a second further adrift.
“I think that could be my best win yet”, said Robertson, “I dropped back at the start and really had to work for it. I’ve never been in a situation on the last lap where someone has been so close to me and pressuring me so much, that definitely makes the win so much sweeter.
“It was really hot in the car and such hard work but really good too, it’s a great result for us. We’ve made second in the championship more secure, especially with George (Gamble) not finishing today, and I think this win shows I can be a real contender for next year.”
Second place for Morris marked his 14th visit to the podium of the season and also left no doubt as to his title success with two races remaining in the season. “It was an absolutely great race, I really enjoyed it”, he said, “If I’m not winning, I’m not happy but second place today was good – we only just missed the win. It’s been a great season, we’ve worked really hard for it.”
Following round 17 on Saturday, Morris’ victory was protested by Murray and the ensuing judicial hearing on Sunday resulted in a three second penalty for the champion to, in turn, give Murray his maiden win.
Added to that, today’s third place for Murray – after a fantastic run from the back of the grid – along with a bonus point for the fastest lap has lifted him into fourth in the driver standings. All in all, the 2010 Ginetta Junior Ireland Champion has taken four podiums from the last four races.
“I’m absolutely delighted with the way the weekend has gone”, said Murray, “I really like this circuit, I seem to go well here and be really fast. Starting at the back, I made a few places at the start – not as many as I’d hoped – and the car was really over-heating.
“The clutch went as well in the end but I was blessed I wasn’t involved in any of the incidents. I really have to thank the guys at Beacon Racing and my brother Eoin for getting the car set-up absolutely perfect. It’s been a great weekend.”
Giddings finished in fifth position in the end, some five seconds clear of Max Coates, while Collins recovered from his trip through the gravel to take seventh ahead of racing rookie William Palmer – the latter making only his second ever competitive outing, having debuted at Snetterton in August. In ninth, and the last of the finishers, was Declan Jones.
Silverstone National Circuit in Northamptonshire will host the final two rounds of the Ginetta Junior Championship season two weeks from now on 15th/16th October.
Provisional 2011 Ginetta Junior Championship Positions (after Rd18 – inc. drop scores):Champion: Seb Morris, 515pts; 2nd Charlie Robertson, 393pts; 3rd George Gamble, 365pts; 4th Niall Murray, 300pts; 5th William Foster, 293pts; 6th Max Coates, 287pts