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Hedley Takes Two Wins On Way To Winter Series Crown

18th November 2018 • Stephen Errity

Elite Motorsport driver James Hedley has won the 2018 Ginetta Junior Winter Series championship, held over two days in cold but bright autumn conditions at Brands Hatch this weekend.

Having finished seventh in the main Ginetta Junior series this year, he now takes home the prize of 50% off the entry fee to the 2019 Junior series.

Burton2

Saturday qualifying

Saturday’s qualifying session saw Douglas Motorsport’s Gus Burton (above) set both fastest and second-fastest lap times, meaning he’d start on pole position for both of the day’s races.

His team-mate Lorcan Hanafin had a trip through the gravel at one point, but recovered to find pace and would line up alongside Burton on the front row for the first race and in third for race two. Elite Motorsport’s Tom Emson was the fastest rookie, qualifying third for race one and second for race two, while his fellow rookie Theo Edgeton (TCR) managed fourth for both races.

Edgeton’s TCR team-mate Ruben del Sarte would line up fifth for race one, with Premiership Academy man Harry Dyson in the same position for race two. Elsewhere, eventual champion Hedley survived a moment at Graham Hill Bend to line up sixth and seventh respectively on the two grids

The session was red flagged with four minutes remaining due to a spinning car coming to a stop in a dangerous position on track.

Podium

Race 1

Incidents on lap one unfortunately put paid to the efforts of Isack Hadjar (Elite Motorsport) and Conner Garlick, while Elite Motorsport’s Caspar Stevenson was also involved, but managed to keep going. The safety car was deployed to allow clear-up, and shortly after the restart polesitter and leader Burton left the track.

In the ensuing scramble, fifth-place starter Del Sarte emerged in the lead, but only just. A thrilling four-way battle for the lead ensued, with just five minutes remaining on the race clock. Sadly, it was not to be, with an incident involving Edgerton and Hanafin bringing out the red flags.

The result was declared at the end of lap eight, with Del Sarte, Emson and Dyson making up the podium (above), ahead of Hedley, a recovering Burton and Premiership Academy driver Ben O’Hare. GPRM’s Roman Bilinski was best of the rookies in seventh, ahead of Stevenson and TCR’s Daniel Gale.

Saturday’s planned second race unfortunately had to be declared void after two red-flag incidents and no room on the timetable for it to be rescheduled.

Burton 02

Sunday qualifying

Qualifying on Sunday morning (above) was briefly interrupted by red flags twice for cars in the gravel, but the last 10 minutes or so saw green-flag running and good track conditions, allowing Hedley to take pole for the both of the day’s two races with laps of 57.448 and 57.576.

Burton and Dyson also managed to set a pair of laps good enough for them to line up second and third in both encounters. Fourth on the grid in race one went the way of Emson and Hanafin grabbed the same starting position for race two.

Elite Motorsport’s Joel Pearson was the strongest-performing rookie in Sunday qualifying, clinching sixth on the grid for both of the day’s races. After the session, Dyson later had the majority of his times disallowed due to losing bodywork during the session and thus running underweight, while Hanafin and Edgerton lost individual laps due to track-limits infringements.

That left the top five for race one as Hedley, Burton, Emson, Hanafin and Pearson, with the same five at the front for race two, albeit with Hanafin third and Emson fourth.

Race3 Podium 01

Race 2

In the first of Sunday’s pair of races, front-row starters Burton and Hedley were already battling hard on lap one when the safety car came out for a competitor off at the exit of Druids. This then became a red flag, due to tyre wall repairs being necessary.

The restarted race saw a poor start from Hedley, allowing Burton into an early lead. Del Sarte was the man really on the move, though, getting up to third from his grid position of sixth. There was little to choose between the top six at this point, with only tenths between them early on.

Del Sarte briefly grabbed second through Clearways, but Hedley reasserted his position and himself challenged Burton for the lead into Paddock Hill Bend. By lap five, Burton was still in front, having soaked up plenty of pressure and with the Hedley/Del Sarte battle for second giving him some breathing room.

By lap eight, Hedley was again challenging Burton hard for the lead. They were nose-to-tail for the final laps, and a well judged exit from Clearways allowed Hedley to just nose ahead as they crossed the line, taking victory by only 0.133 seconds.

Further back, Hanafin was pushing for third behind Del Sarte, but ended up losing fourth and fifth to Emson and Edgerton in the closing stages. He managed to grab one position back before the chequered flag, however, so behind the podium positions it was Emson in fourth, Hanafin fifth and Edgerton (the highest-place rookie this race) in sixth.

Del Sarte 01

Race 3

Sunday’s second race, and the final encounter of the weekend, saw a slow start for polesitter Hedley again, allowing Burton into the lead. Hedley was right on Burton’s bumper by the end of the second lap, however, with Hanafin, leading rookie Edgerton and Emson in third, fourth and fifth respectively.

Del Sarte overhauled Emson for fifth early on lap three, but at the same time Burton was hit with a 10-second penalty for a false start, putting the advantage firmly in Hedley’s corner. Del Sarte’s charge continued, but his next move for fourth (which became third with Burton’s penalty) saw contact with Hanafin.

As the clock wound down, Del Sarte continued to advance, moving up to a net second place as the race entered its final five minutes. Hedley remained behind Burton on the track – but effectively in the lead of the race with the latter’s penalty taken into account. Hedley nonetheless took the position on the road as well, with a brave move going through Druids on lap 12.

After a tense few final laps, Hedley crossed the line to win both the race and the overall 2018 Ginetta Junior Winter Series title. Del Sarte and Emson filled out the podium, with Edgerton, Burton and Hanafin coming home fourth, fifth and sixth respectively. Seventh-place Daniel Gale (TCR) had done well enough across the three races to take the Winter Series rookie honours for 2018.