On a bitterly cold Saturday morning in Norfolk, it was Bailey Voisin (R Racing) who topped the timesheets in qualifying for the third time this season with a brilliant double pole position. Hot on his heels was title rival Lebbon (Elite Motorsport), who secured two front row starts.
Those two went on to enjoy a memorable duel for victory in the first of two races on Saturday afternoon. A great launch for Lebbon got him the lead through Riches for the first time, with Voisin initially slipping to third behind fellow championship contender Josh Rattican (Elite Racing).
Rattican fell to the rear of the field by the end of lap however, with the top two making an immediate break at the front. Voisin hunted down a near two second gap to Lebbon and those two commenced battle over the second half of the race.
Going on to trade the lead multiple times around the circuit, Lebbon eventually emerged victorious. Voisin had his hands full on the final lap as Georgi Dimitrov (Richardson Racing) loomed large in his mirrors, the latter impressively rising from eighth on the grid.
After the order shuffled around early on, a close one-on-one battle for fourth place developed between Elite Motorsport team-mates Tommy Pintos and Seb Hopkins. The former grabbed the place at the halfway mark to make a welcome return to the rookie podium.
Will Jenkins (Elite Racing) emerged from some close action in sixth ahead of Tom Edgar (TCR) and William Aspin (Elite Motorsport). A brilliant drive for Joe Wheeler (Assetto Motorsport) saw him gain ten places through the race to ninth ahead of Aston Millar (R Racing), who was 17th at one stage.
Liam McNeilly (Fox Motorsport) and James Higgins (Preptech UK) both converted seasons’ best qualifying results into top 12 finishes, with R Racing duo Freddie Tomlinson and Joel Pearson following them home – only half a second splitting the quartet across the line.
The second race of the afternoon started with Voisin leading away from pole position, while a tough opening lap for Lebbon saw him slip to fifth. He produced an immediate and impressive fightback though, getting up to second on lap two before storming into the lead next time round.
The top two soon broke clear of the pack and similar to race one, entered into a thrilling duel for the win. Once again swapping positions a number of times, Lebbon was in front when it counted to record a fourth victory of the season so far, with Voisin a close second.
Rattican moved up to third early on and held the position for the majority of the race, however a late move from Pintos earned him a first ever outright podium finish in the series. Pintos had once again been battling with Hopkins through the race, the latter coming home fifth.
Aspin made progress through the race to secure a best ever finish in the championship in sixth, with Dimitrov close behind. An action-packed race for Pearson ended with him narrowly edging out Edgar for eighth, while Millar once again rounded out the top ten.
Josh Miller (Elite Motorsport) picked up his best finish of the weekend in 11th, while after impressively running in the top six early in race one, Trennon Bettany (Richardson Racing) picked up a 12th place finish ahead of Jenkins, McNeilly and Will Rochford (TCR).
The final race of the weekend took place live on ITV4 and featured a sensational five car battle for the lead over the first half of the race. Lebbon held the lead from pole position at the start, with Rattican storming around the outside at Riches for second.
Voisin, Pinto and Hopkins latched onto their tail and that quintet would change order on every lap. Voisin came through to lead at one stage, before a great move on the outside at Nelson resulted in Pintos leading a Junior race for the first time in his rookie season.
Lebbon fought back to the lead on lap six of nine though and benefitted from the action continuing behind to pull clear to victory by over seven seconds. That success made him the first driver since Louis Foster in 2018 to record a weekend victory hat-trick.
Rattican and Voisin fought their way through to complete the overall podium, meaning the top three will head into the season finale at Brands Hatch (14/15 November) in title contention. Voisin leads Lebbon by 11 points and Rattican sits 10 points further adrift with two races remaining.
The battling for the podium allowed the pack behind to close up and Pearson took full advantage to grab fourth place on the final lap, completing a tremendous comeback from 17th early on. Pintos and Hopkins ended their weekend duel with top six finishes and rookie podiums.
Edgar was next up, while Tomlinson secured an eighth place finish from 16th on the grid. Jenkins followed him to the finish, while William Vincent (Elite Motorsport) rose seven places for a weekend best result of 10th ahead of McNeilly, Dimitrov and Millar.
Joe Warhurst (TCR) joined the grid for his championship debut and enjoyed a solid weekend, taking a best result of 19th. He had a few battles across the races with Rowan Vincent (Richardson Racing), who peaked with 18th on two occasions.
Tom Lebbon – Provisional 2020 Michelin Ginetta Junior ‘Rookie’ Champion: “It’s been a fantastic weekend, taking all three race wins and the rookie title. The majority of the grid has been rookies this season, so I’m pleased to take the crown. Now our focus is on winning the main championship too.”
Full race results from the weekend can be viewed here: https://www.tsl-timing.com/event/204303