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Michelin Ginetta Junior Championship Serves Up Thruxton Thrillers

20th May 2019 • Simon Paice

Will Martin secured his maiden victory in the Michelin Ginetta Junior Championship and James Hedley picked up his third win of the year during a spectacular weekend of racing at Thruxton (18/19 May).

The Ginetta Juniors have become renowned for producing exhilarating, wheel-to-wheel racing around the fastest circuit in the UK and this year was no exception, with the two races featuring some epic battles throughout the field and seven different drivers stepping onto the podium.

Championship leader James Hedley (Elite Motorsport) set the pace in qualifying on Saturday afternoon for his first two pole positions of the campaign, with Zak O’Sullivan (Douglas Motorsport) lapping as the fastest rookie as he secured a pair of front row starts.

It was a driver from the third row of the grid that grabbed the early advantage in race one though. Ethan Hawkey (Total Control Racing) stormed around the outside of everyone into Campbell for the first time to lead from O’Sullivan and James Taylor (Richardson Racing), who had started eighth.

Hawkey held the advantage until lap three, when Will Martin (Richardson Racing) got ahead and was able to quickly benefit from the battling behind and make a break out front. A fantastic drive from there saw him secure his maiden Ginetta Junior victory by over six seconds.

Second position was hotly contested behind him with the place changing hands on almost every lap. After Hawkey, Taylor and Lorcan Hanafin (Douglas Motorsport) each occupied the spot, it was O’Sullivan who rose to the fore and earnt the rookie class victory in second overall.

Hawkey produced a brilliant drive to overcome Hanafin in the closing stages to secure his maiden overall podium finish in the championship. After slipping to eighth on the opening lap, Hedley fought back well to fourth ahead of Gus Burton (Douglas Motorsport) and Hanafin.

There was plenty of action and overtaking throughout the field, with Tom Emson (Elite Motorsport) and Josh Rattican (R Racing with In2Racing) in the thick of the action en-route to seventh and eighth respectively, while Harry Dyson (Premiership Academy Racing) climbed from 16th to ninth.

Casper Stevenson (Richardson Racing) came tenth overall as he completed the rookie class podium alongside O’Sullivan and Rattican, with Joel Pearson (Elite Motorsport), Frankie Taylor (SVG Motorsport) and Roman Bilinski (Privateer) narrowly missing out on a top ten berth.

Theo Edgerton (Total Control Racing) came back from early troubles to finish 14th, while a late puncture led to James Taylor slipping to 15th at the finish ahead of Total Control Racing team-mates Daniel Gale and Will Rochford.

The second race of the day was televised live on ITV4 and the audience were treated to another action-packed encounter. Hedley led the field away from pole position and both himself and O’Sullivan benefitted from early drama behind to break clear of the field.

In a close fought duel, O’Sullivan kept the pressure on the leader throughout but was unable to make a move, with Hedley holding on to take the win. That makes it six podium finishes in the opening seven races of the season for the reigning Winter Series champion.

O’Sullivan meanwhile took second place overall and the rookie class victory, both results he has now achieved on five occasions this year, while he also ended Hedley’s 100% record for race fastest laps. Another milestone result went to Stevenson, who recorded his first overall podium in third.

Hawkey ran fourth throughout to cap off his best weekend in the championship so far, while Burton and Bilinski completed the top six ahead of Rattican and Edgerton. Pearson meanwhile become the 16th different driver to finish in the top ten so far this season.

Haytham Qarajouli and his Total Control Racing team-mate Gale took their best results of the weekend in 13th and 14th respectively, while Freddie Tomlinson (Douglas Motorsport) bounced back well from race one disappointment to finish 15th.

The 2019 Michelin Ginetta Junior Championship is next in action in four weeks’ time at Croft in North Yorkshire, where it will once again be joined by the Millers Oils Ginetta GT4 SuperCup on the support bill for the British Touring Car Championship.