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Millar, McNeilly And Voisin Share Knockhill Ginetta Junior Wins

16th August 2021 • Simon Paice

Aston Millar has taken the points lead in the Michelin Ginetta Junior Championship with a double victory at Knockhill, as Liam McNeilly and Callum Voisin also enjoyed race wins (14/15 August).

Qualifying on Saturday took place on a drying circuit, which meant the quickest times came in the closing stages of the session. Nailing his last lap to top qualifying for the first time in his Junior career was the points leader heading into the weekend, McNeilly (Fox Motorsport).

R Racing’s teamwork netted them three drivers in the top six; Millar, Voisin and Josh Miller in second, fifth and sixth respectively. Seb Hopkins (Elite Motorsport) and Robert de Haan (Richardson Racing) split them, the latter scoring his best qualifying result to date.

McNeilly kicked off the opening race by leading the field through the opening couple of laps, whilst Hopkins made an early move past Millar for second. The race was then red flagged due to an incident at Clarks corner though, leading to a full restart.

Another great launch for McNeilly maintained his advantage at the front, with a close fought pack behind him. Voisin briefly got third away from Millar, though the latter fought back and then got ahead of Hopkins again prior to the emergence of the safety car.

At the restart, Ginetta Junior scholar de Haan made an immediate move on Voisin for third at McIntyres, with the latter losing some ground. From fifth at one stage, Hopkins was mounting a fightback and moved into third on the penultimate lap from de Haan.

Ahead, McNeilly had the pack tucked under his rear wing throughout the closing laps, but a stellar defensive drive netted him a third win of the season. Millar and Hopkins completed the podium, with de Haan securing the rookie class spoils in fourth.

Will Jenkins (Elite Motorsport) bounced back from a tough qualifying session with a fantastic drive from 15th to fifth ahead of team-mate Josh Rowledge. Harri Reynolds (Assetto Motorsport) was another to mount a great charge, rising no less than 16 places to seventh.

Aqil Alibhai (Breakell Racing) converted a seasons’ best qualifying performance into a breakthrough top ten result in eighth ahead of Voisin and Joe Wheeler (Assetto Motorsport), who were battling hard on the last lap.

Fellow Assetto racers Max Dodds and Jamie Osborne were next, the former scything his way through from 24th to 11th, with Fergus Chalmers (Preptech UK) and Jack Sherwood (Elite Motorsport) scoring their best ever race finishes in 13th and 14th respectively.

The second race on Saturday was the postponed race from Oulton Park last time out, with the grid formed on the qualifying times from that event. Rowledge therefore started on pole and he led the opening few corners, however a trip through the Clarks gravel lost him ground.

Voisin moved into the lead and soon began a thrilling duel for victory with team-mate Millar. The duo ran nose to tail almost all race, with Millar briefly getting through at the final hairpin on lap eight, though Voisin fought back at the next corner and went on to take a sixth win of the year.

Behind them, there was an early battle for third as Miller and Dodds held the spot at points, before McNeilly came through to grab the place and hold it to the finish. Fourth went the way of de Haan, who superbly fought his way up the order from 14th on the grid.

Dodds finished fifth on the road, however a post-race time penalty dropped him to ninth, with Jenkins therefore taking fifth by just 0.015s after a photo-finish with Reynolds. Miller fought back from an early issue to finish seventh ahead of pole-sitter Rowledge.

Osborne battled closely with Freddie Tomlinson (R Racing) at one stage en-route to 10th, with the latter finishing 12th in-between Zac Meakin (Raceway Motorsport) and Edward Pearson (Richardson Racing). Both Meakin and Pearson had recorded seasons’ best qualifying results earlier in the day.

Joe Warhurst (Elite Motorsport) and Ginetta Junior scholar Maurice Henry (Fox Motorsport) emerged from some close midfield battles with top 15 finishes ahead of Wheeler, James Higgins (Preptech UK) and Sherwood.

The third race of the weekend on Sunday morning started with an impressive early charge from de Haan, who rose from third on the grid to the race lead within the first two laps. The red flags then came out though due to a two car incident at Clarks.

The race restarted with the original grid, meaning de Haan had it all to do again. Up to second on lap four, the Dutchman then caught and passed Millar for the lead. Those two fought it out in a thrilling duel over the remaining laps, with de Haan holding him off as they took the finish.

Post-race however the on-the-road victor was handed a ten second time penalty for a false start, demoting him to eighth. Millar therefore inherited the race win, his first in the championship, with Hopkins and Voisin going on to complete the podium.

They had been part of an exciting three car battle, with the duo trading places with McNeilly through the race. Jenkins joined them at one stage but dropped back after an off track excursion, with Tomlinson fighting from 12th to fifth in the end. Rowledge and Wheeler were next up.

Behind de Haan in the amended result, Higgins and Ginetta Junior scholar Henry fought their way up the order to score breakthrough top ten race finishes. Assetto’s Dodds and Reynolds just missed out on the top ten, while Pearson was battling for the top six before dropping to 13th at the last corner.

There was once again some great, close racing in the midfield pack. Osborne was in the thick of the action en-route to 14th ahead of Max Hall (Elite Motorsport), Chalmers and Alibhai, while Jacob Hodgkiss (Race Car Consultants) took a best result of the weekend in 18th.

The fourth and final race was televised live on ITV4 on Sunday afternoon. From pole, Millar took advantage of the pack behind battling and pulled clear to a four second race victory; doubling his win tally for the day and extending his record of finishing every race this season inside the top six.

Hopkins ran second until the halfway mark, when Voisin got down the inside at the hairpin. Two laps later he ran wide at McIntyres though, allowing Hopkins back through, and soon after he dropped to fifth as de Haan and McNeilly moved ahead.

That’s how the group eventually finished as the race was ended soon after with a red flag. Hopkins completed a podium treble for the weekend, while de Haan bounced back from his race three frustration with a maiden overall podium finish and the rookie class win.

Behind McNeilly and Voisin, Rowledge completed the rookie rostrum in sixth overall. Tomlinson enjoyed a fun duel with Reynolds on their way to seventh and eighth respectively, with Wheeler and Higgins ending their weekends with top ten finishes.

In the pack, Oliver Flashman (Richardson Racing) scored a best result of the weekend of 16th in race one, while Adam Brown (Ultimate Speed Racing) matched his seasons’ best finish of 18th in the same race. Ian Aguilera (R Racing) meanwhile joined them in scoring two points finishes over the weekend.

Next up for the Michelin Ginetta Junior Championship paddock is a second visit of the season to Thruxton in two weeks’ time (28/29 August).

Full race results for the weekend can be found here: https://www.tsl-timing.com/event/213203