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Millar Wins Ginetta Junior Title With Double Finale Win

25th October 2021 • Simon Paice

Aston Millar secured the 2021 Michelin Ginetta Junior Championship title in spectacular fashion with a double victory in the season finale at Brands Hatch this past weekend (23/24 October).

As Millar impressively wrapped up a first drivers’ crown for teams’ champions R Racing, Liam McNeilly confirmed himself as championship runner-up with a race win of his own and Ginetta Junior Scholarship winner Robert de Haan secured the rookie class title.

Millar started the weekend in perfect fashion by setting the qualifying pace for the third meeting in a row to add an extra point to his championship lead. He recorded the fastest second best time too, securing him a double pole position for Saturday’s races.

Title rival McNeilly (Fox Motorsport) was close behind with third and second for the two races, with de Haan (Richardson Racing) splitting them on the grid for the opener as a seasons’ best qualifying performance boosted his title chances too.

It was de Haan who made the best start to race one, sweeping past pole-sitter Millar to take the lead into Paddock Hill for the first time. McNeilly stayed third, while Will Jenkins (Elite Motorsport) fended off Callum Voisin (R Racing) to run fourth.

The safety car appeared before the end of lap one, with the red flags then emerging soon afterwards as the marshals removed a car from a gravel trap. The race was restarted with a five lap duration, with de Haan converting pole into the lead from Millar.

Jenkins made an immediate challenge for third but found himself shuffled down the pack, with McNeilly holding the spot for a lap before being shuffled back to fifth behind Voisin and Seb Hopkins (Elite Motorsport) – the latter having lined up 14th at the original start.

Ahead, Millar made a move on de Haan to take the lead just before the yellow flags came out again. With the race going on to end behind the safety car, Millar’s overtake proved pivotal as it secured him the extra points needed to secure the title with two races to spare.

De Haan won the rookie class in second overall ahead of his main challenger for the class crown Voisin, with Hopkins and McNeilly completing the top five. Jenkins battled back well to sixth ahead of Josh Miller (R Racing).

After qualifying a seasons’ best fifth, Jamie Osborne (Assetto Motorsport) fell back to 19th at the end of lap one before impressively coming back through to eighth ahead of team-mate Harri Reynolds, who picked up a rookie podium trophy, and Josh Rowledge (Elite Motorsport).

Freddie Tomlinson (R Racing), Joe Warhurst (Elite Motorsport) and Joe Wheeler (Assetto Motorsport) were next up. Aqil Alibhai (Breakell Racing) gained seven places to 14th ahead of Edward Pearson (Richardson Racing), who had posted a best ever qualifying result of tenth.

The sun began to set over the Brands Hatch Grand Prix circuit as the record-breaking 30 car field tackled their second race. Unfortunately it would prove to be one limited to just a couple of racing laps, as incidents led to a safety car period and then an early red flag conclusion.

In that time, the top three on the grid stayed in formation to the finish as Millar added another win to his tally ahead of McNeilly and Jenkins. Behind, James Higgins (Preptech UK) scored a best ever result of fourth place and also a maiden rookie class victory.

An opening lap move for Wheeler got him fifth place from Fergus Chalmers, who made it a Preptech one-two in the rookie class as both he and Pearson picked up their first Ginetta trophies. Tenth place for de Haan meanwhile secured him the rookie title, becoming only the third scholar to achieve the feat.

Sonny Smith (Hybrid Tune Ltd) and Luke Watts (R Racing) followed him home for their best results so far of 11th and 12th respectively. Despite the limited racing mileage, Hopkins still found time to gain nine places to 13th ahead of his Elite stablemate Jack Sherwood.

Behind, Alibhai, Reynolds and Zac Meakin (Raceway Motorsport) each made good progress too, gaining nine, seven and ten places respectively to finish 16th, 17th and 18th. Bouncing back from a race one DNF to round out the points finishers was Max Dodds (Assetto Motorsport).

The final race of the season took place live on ITV4 and in front of a huge trackside crowd on Sunday afternoon. The championship top two ran side by side into Paddock Hill Bend for the first time, with Millar taking the early lead before running wide at the end of lap one.

That dropped him behind McNeilly and Jenkins, with an attempted overtake on the latter at Sheene on lap two sending them both off circuit. That was all McNeilly needed to break away at the front, building an eight second lead at the front before the race eventually ended behind the safety car.

A great performance from de Haan saw him fight through from tenth on the grid to a clear second place overall and an 11th rookie win of his title campaign. Behind, an incredible eight car battle raged for the final podium position.

At the head of that was Pearson after rising from eighth to third in the first few laps, with a brilliant defensive display eventually securing him a first overall podium result. From tenth after his early contact with Millar, Jenkins fought back well to fourth at the finish.

Millar’s record of finishing every race this season inside the top six came to an end in the final race as he eventually came home eighth behind Tomlinson, Rowledge and Hopkins, with Alibhai and Higgins capping off good rookie campaigns with top ten finishes.

Maurice Henry (Fox Motorsport) ended his season as a Ginetta Junior scholar with a pair of 16th place finishes over the weekend, with Ian Aguilera (R Racing) having scored points himself in the opening encounter on Saturday.

Bouncing back from a double DNF on Saturday, Jacob Hodgkiss (Race Car Consultants) joined Max Hall (Assetto Motorsport) and AJ Rock (Team HARD) in narrowly missing out on scoring points with highest results of 22nd overall too.

Haydn Chance (Preptech UK), Adam Brown (Ultimate Speed Racing) and Thomas Jack Lee (Race Car Consultants) ended their seasons with best results of 23rd, 24th and 25th respectively.

Aston Millar – 2021 Overall Champion: “It’s a great feeling to win the championship. It’s been an amazing season, with consistency being the key. I raced against Liam [McNeilly] for many years in karting and I’ve enjoyed battling for the title with him. Thank you to R Racing for all their support this year.”

Robert de Haan – 2021 Rookie Champion: “I’m really happy to end a great first season in car-racing as the rookie champion and fourth overall in the championship. Thank you to Richardson Racing, they did a great job all year, and to Ginetta for this opportunity through the scholarship.”

Full race results for the weekend can be found here: https://www.tsl-timing.com/event/214203