Sennan Fielding enhanced his challenge for a top six championship finish in his rookie season in the Ginetta Junior Championship by scorching to a superb maiden victory during round 19 at Silverstone National Circuit, Saturday, 15th October.
The TJ Motorsport driver, whose previous main season best was a brace of third place finishes at Rockingham last month, ran in the top trio for the majority of the race before nabbing the lead on the penultimate lap as Niall Murray and Seb Morris squabbled.
Able to break away by 0.7 seconds into the final lap, that slim advantage was enough to keep the 15-year-old ahead despite Murray and Morris closing back in over the last 1.64-miles of racing. In the end, Fielding took it on the line by just 0.147 seconds.
“Over the last few laps I thought I’d just sit there and watch what happened”, said the winner, “At Becketts a couple of laps from the end, Morris went up the inside of Murray and there was a bit of rubbing – they slowed each other down and I was able to nip through. It feels really good to win, it was a really hard race – I didn’t expect this!”
Fielding’s TJ team-mate Brad Bailey was the surprise of qualifying with a superb lap of 1m10.029 seconds (84.25mph) sealing him pole position 0.1 seconds clear of Beacon Racing’s Murray while Jake Giddings was third fastest for FML ahead of the already crowned 2011 champion Morris in his Hillspeed car and then Fielding and Max Coates on row three.
Murray made the best getaway to lead Bailey through Copse and the unfortunate pole-sitter was then bundled down the order at Becketts. On the run into the complex, Murray held first place from Giddings, Morris and Fielding with Tom Howard fifth for Tollbar and Coates sixth.
Fielding deposed Morris for third on lap two but the champion quickly hit back the next time around, taking two places on the third tour to move into second ahead of both Giddings and Fielding. On lap four, Howard’s race ended in retirement in the Becketts gravel so Coates inherited fifth position ahead of HHC’s Charlie Robertson and TJ’s George Gamble – the latter up from 14th on the grid.
By the mid-point of the race, Morris was right on the tail of Murray with Fielding keeping a watching brief in third. Morris challenged for the lead into Copse on lap seven, but to no avail, and as the laps counted down the proximity of the lead trio got ever closer.
Robertson, up into the top four during the final third of the race, started to edge towards the leaders but with Gamble pressuring he also had to keep an eye on his mirrors. In the end, Gamble managed to get by for fourth on lap 11 but sixth place for Robertson – behind Bailey who mounted a terrific recovery drive – should be enough to net him the coveted Vice-Champion’s spot.
The fight over the podium places continued to rage but when Murray and Morris traded paintwork a lap and a half from the chequered flag, Fielding gladly sliced by to add his name to the list of 2011 race winners.
Runner-up Murray said: “I got a good start, pulled away a bit but just didn’t have the pace to pull out a bigger gap. Seb was getting a good tow off me every single lap, I defended hard and then with a couple of laps to go I was on the outside at Becketts and I got put onto the grass. Second is good but we could have had the win today.”
Morris added: “I was really enjoying the race, our pace was great but I am annoyed there was contact. We’ve already won the championship, so that’s not a concern, but I did want that race to go off without any contact – it’s really disappointing as the car was working fantastically well.”
Behind the top six, Hillspeed’s Struan Moore – returning to action after missing the Brands Hatch Grand Prix Circuit races a fortnight ago – was an excellent seventh, from 12th on the grid, with Foster taking eighth, Coates ninth and 14-year-old William Palmer 11th ahead of championship newcomer, and car racing rookie, Andrew Watson.
Giddings, Patrick McClughan and Oliver Chadwick all received drive-through penalties after being adjudged to have exceeded track limits. They finished in 12th, 13th and 15th position respectively.