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Rowledge Builds Ginetta Junior Lead With Knockhill Double

1st August 2022 • Simon Paice

Josh Rowledge has extended his points lead in the Michelin Ginetta Junior Championship after starting the second half of the season with a brilliant double win at Knockhill, as Maurice Henry picked up his maiden series victory.

Sonny Smith (R Racing) scored a breakthrough win at Croft prior to the summer break and returned to action on top again, setting the pace in qualifying for the third time in five sessions this season ahead of Henry (Fox Motorsport) in a career best second.

Rowledge (R Racing) finished third on the timesheets, while he posted the best second fastest time to secure the race two pole. Preptech UK duo Zac Meakin and Fergus Chalmers enjoyed best ever results in fourth and fifth respectively.

The opening race on Saturday afternoon proved to be a stop-start encounter. Henry grabbed the lead from Smith at the hairpin on lap one before an early safety car period, following retirements for Luca Hopkinson (R Racing) and Harri Reynolds (Assetto Motorsport).

Former Ginetta Junior scholar Henry executed a great restart and went on to lead the remaining laps for his maiden victory in the series. Rowledge and Smith completed the overall podium behind him, with the latter picking up the rookie class spoils.

Joe Warhurst (Elite Motorsport) made up a couple of spots early on before fending off a late challenge from Liam McNeilly (Fox Motorsport) to finish fourth, while Chalmers finished sixth on the road before receiving a 10 second time penalty for a false start.

Aqil Alibhai (Elite Motorsport) and Meakin were therefore next up, the latter losing ground with a trip across the Clark’s gravel trap, while Will Macintyre (Elite Motorsport) finished second in the rookies before being handed a 1.8 second time penalty after an incident on circuit.

That meant it was Ginetta Junior scholar Alisha Palmowski (Preptech UK) and Kanato Le (Elite Motorsport) who picked up class silverware, with Luke Watts (R Racing) just missing out as he completed the top 10 overall from Macintyre and Jacob Hodgkiss (Fox Motorsport).

Flynn McHardy (Preptech UK) made good progress forward from P20 on the grid to 13th overall ahead of Mckenzie Douglass (Elite Motorsport), with Chalmers ultimately classified 15th. Adam Brown (Ultimate Speed Racing), Shravan Shanmugavel (Elite Motorsport) and Liona Theobald (Assetto Motorsport) completed the finishers.

The Juniors were the first on track on Sunday morning and served up an entertaining race for the trackside crowd. Rowledge was the driver to beat at the front of the field, racing into a 3.5 second lead in the opening stages as the pack battled behind.

Warhurst broke clear of them and proceeded to hunt down the leader, just running out of laps to make a challenge as 0.3 seconds split them at the chequered flag. Making great progress through the race meanwhile was McNeilly, who scored a long-awaited first podium of the season from 12th on the grid.

McNeilly worked his way through some fantastic battles across the top ten, finishing up ahead of Meakin in a career-best fourth place. Macintyre was another to move up the order, rising from 11th at the start to the rookie class win in fifth.

Alibhai rounded out the top six ahead of R Racing pair Ian Aguilera and Watts, with the latter being joined by Palmowski on the rookie class podium. Douglass completed the top ten ahead of Chalmers, who dropped out of the top six on the opening lap, and Hopkinson.

Le and Hodgkiss fought back from an early incident together to finish 13th and 15th, sandwiching Reynolds in the final result. After the title contender’s race one retirement, he ran as high as sixth in race two before being shuffled down the order.

The final race of the weekend was televised live on the main ITV channel, with Rowledge and McNeilly putting on an entertaining duel for victory. Running nose-to-tail for a number of laps, the leader fended off the challenge to make it four wins for the season so far.

A thrilling multi-car scrap for third eventually went the way of rookie victor Macintyre, who held the position for the majority of the race before slipping to sixth and having to fight back in the last two laps. Warhurst and Alibhai followed him over the line, however a track limits penalty for the latter put him behind Meakin.

As Aguilera finished seventh, a superb drive for Smith saw him storm through the field from 21st on the grid to eighth. Henry and Douglass rounded out the top ten, with Palmowski and Chalmers having been set to do so before they lost ground late on.

Le narrowly missed out on the top ten as he led home Hodgkiss, Watts, Brown and McHardy. Ella Lloyd (Assetto Motorsport) made it back-to-back 16th place finishes for the day, while team-mate Theobald picked up her best result of the weekend in 17th.

Full race results can be found at https://www.tsl-timing.com/event/223003

The Michelin Ginetta Junior Championship is back on track next weekend (13/14 August) with a visit to Snetterton in Norfolk.