Ginetta Junior Championship race winner Jamie Caroline had the clear pace to make a return to the category podium at Silverstone National Circuit on Sunday, 28th September, but had to be satisfied with a best finish of fifth place for Total Control Racing in the second of two all-action encounters.
Despite a tough qualifying session, which delivered less than favourable grid starts, the first year driver raced superbly in rounds 17 and 18 and was a threat for the podium in each outing – setting the fastest lap of the race in the second contest.
Regular team-mate Matt Chapman and TCR newcomer Billy Monger posted best finishes of 15th place and ninth position respectively and the Wednesbury team now heads to Brands Hatch a fortnight from now determined to grasp more silverware before the end of the season.
Beginning race one on Sunday from 10th on the grid, Caroline made a superb start to rocket through into the top six and he then broke into the top five on lap four. With the lead pack incredibly close, the TCR driver was very well placed to mount a podium challenge and after moving into fourth place a couple of laps later, a major shuffle at the front of the pack elevated him into second.
Running just 0.2 seconds behind champion-elect Jack Mitchell, he was unfortunately elbowed out of the podium placings two laps from the finish and then ultimately ended the encounter down in 11th position after officials applied a five second penalty for a perceived track limits infringement.
Chapman moved up from 13th on the grid into the top 12 on lap one and edged closer to the top 10 on the subsequent tour by taking 11th place. Slipping back a position on the third tour, Chapman was then demoted to 16th after some robust mid-pack action but did move back into 15th before the end.
Making his first appearance for TCR, after signing for the team following the previous event at Rockingham, former privateer runner Monger began the race in 15th position and although edged back a couple of places at the beginning he did manage to reel the main pack in to carve his way through into 13th place by the finish
For round 18, Caroline had to start from the back of the 19-car grid due to a 10 place penalty which was applied after race one in relation to a tangle with another driver. With a huge amount of work on his hands, the category race winner starred with a sensational performance and sliced his way through the order like a hot knife through butter.
Already on the tail of the top 10 over the first couple of laps, Caroline continued his rapid march towards the front of the field and was inside the top six by mid-distance. Running in fifth position in the evenly matched lead pack, Caroline posted the fastest lap of the race on the eighth tour and did grab fourth place late on from Mitchell but ultimately finished in fifth on the run to the line.
Lining-up in 11th position on the grid, Chapman held station early on while new team-mate Monger – who qualified 14th on the grid – produced a storming first lap to rise into eighth place. Slipping to ninth and 13th respectively shortly after, Monger and Chapman circulated like that for a couple of laps before the former moved back into the top eight into the second half of the race.
Edged back to ninth before the conclusion, the result still matched Monger’s previous best of the season so far while Chapman had to settle for 15th position after a tight battle with fellow rookie driver Harry Mailer.
“Jamie definitely had the pace for more podiums this weekend, we needed the tow in qualifying and without it we ended up further back on the grid than we should have been”, explained TCR team principal Lee Brookes, “He did race brilliantly though, in the second race Jamie was fantastic and to come though as fast as he did in the first few laps was very impressive.
“We’re pleased to see Billy take away a top 10 on his first weekend running with TCR, hopefully he can go on to build on that at Brands Hatch and get a season-best finish. Matt made good progress in both races early on but was pushed back in the end, we’d really like to see him get up to that top 10 on the final weekend and end the year on a bit of a high.”
Rounds 19 and 20, the final two races of the 2014 Ginetta Junior Championship season, will take place at Brands Hatch Grand Prix Circuit in Kent over the weekend 11th/12th October.
Provisional 2014 Ginetta Junior Championship Driver Standings (after Rd18):8th Jamie Caroline, 253pts; 13th Matt Chapman, 158pts; 14th William Taylforth, 149pts; 15th Billy Monger, 132pts
Provisional 2014 Ginetta Junior Championship Team Standings (after Rd18):4th Total Control Racing, 445pts