Hillspeed’s Pepe Massot enjoyed the best outing of his debut car racing season so far during rounds seven and eight of the Ginetta Junior Championship at Oulton Park over the weekend, 9th/10th June, with a fantastic double podium which rockets the Spaniard into the top five in the driver standings.
Continuing to prove himself as a revelation in the ultra-competitive category, the 16-year-old from Barcelona equaled his career-best second place in the opening encounter on Saturday – having led the race for the first eight laps – and went on to finish third in a robust second outing. Added to that, on each occasion the first year driver recorded the Rookie class victory.
Third fastest overall during the rain-affected officially timed test sessions on Friday, 8th June, Massot was an even more impressive second quickest during qualifying on Saturday to claim front-row slots for each of the weekend’s races.
Round seven, on Saturday afternoon, started perfectly for the youngster – launching brilliantly off the line, he edged ahead of pole-sitter Charlie Robertson and produced a superb pass around the outside at Old Hall to lead.
Despite coming under major pressure from Robertson and Niall Murray, Massot raced with an incredible level of maturity and held firm at the front. After a brief Safety Car period on lap four, the pressure intensified as Robertson challenged hard but the Hillspeed ace repelled any attack.
On lap eight though new second placed runner Murray managed to get alongside Massot on the run up towards Hill Top and into the first part of the chicane, Hislops, the Irishman nosed ahead on the inside to grab the lead. The Safety Car returned for a lap on the ninth tour but Massot made no mistakes at the re-start to maintain second place to the chequered flag.
In round eight on Sunday afternoon, the action was a little more fraught for the Ginetta Junior drivers. Massot challenged Robertson again off the start and remained within half a second of the erstwhile championship leader into lap two but at the hairpin, a very late passing attempt by Harry Woodhead – for which he had to take to the grass – resulted in contact.
Causing damage to the steering of Massot’s Ginetta G40, and dropping the Hillspeed driver back down to fifth place, racing was soon halted due to a dramatic excursion off the circuit for series newcomer Ricky Collard at Old Hall which brought out the red flags.
Leading to a fresh race over just six laps, at the re-start Massot produced another superb getaway and took the lead around the outside into Old Hall but struggling with the steering issues he was demoted to fourth at Hislops. Determined to fight back, he grabbed third from Robertson with a smart cut-back at the hairpin before contact occurred at Hislops as they ran side-by-side.
Managing to hold onto his podium spot, Massot closed-up onto the tail of the top two during the final lap and finished just 0.4 seconds shy of the race victory but did claim the Rookie spoils for the second time on the weekend.
“It’s been an outstanding weekend for Pepe, his first ever visit to Oulton Park”, said Hillspeed team principal Richard Ollerenshaw, “He’s been totally focused throughout and the first race on Saturday was the first time he’d driven the circuit in the dry, taking second was a true credit to his ability.
“We felt we could really challenge for a win in race two but needless contact at the hairpin from [Harry] Woodhead, over the grass on the inside, damaged Pepe’s steering and so after the re-start we knew he’d be heavily compromised. To come away with third though was superb as he showed a lot of determination to bring a damaged car through to another podium finish.”
Massot was the sole contender in Ginetta Junior for Hillspeed this weekend but the 2010 and 2011 championship-winning team is actively seeking additional drivers. For further details, please contact Richard Ollerenshaw on 01433 650400 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Hillspeed’s Ginetta Junior team will return to action just two weeks from now on 23rd/24th June at Croft in North Yorkshire for rounds nine and 10. Before then, the squad’s Protyre Formula Renault BARC Championship line-up will be on track at Thruxton in Hampshire for rounds six and seven of their season next Sunday, 17th June.
2012 Ginetta Junior Championship Driver Standings (after Rd8):5th Pepe Massot, 120pts