The class of 2019 served up three gripping races over the weekend (28/29 September), with championship leader James Hedley (Elite Motorsport) maintaining his advantage with a pair of fourth place finishes to set up a season finale duel for the overall title with O’Sullivan.
Hedley cemented his status as the top qualifier on the grid on Saturday morning as he secured a double pole position for the fourth time this season. He did so by the narrowest of margins, with Ethan Brooks (TCR) just 0.012s adrift as he took a seasons’ best second on the grid.
There was early drama in the opening race as Hedley dropped down the order to 21st on the opening lap. Current Ginetta Junior scholar Brooks seized the advantage to lead a race for the first time ahead of Martin (Richardson Racing) and Gus Burton (Douglas Motorsport).
Brooks led proceedings until mid-distance when he suffered an unfortunate moment at Brooklands that ended his race. Burton and Martin went on to switch the lead between them, but their attentions had to turn to the rapid Lorcan Hanafin (Douglas Motorsport) behind.
Having dropped to 13th on lap one, Hanafin stormed through the field and took the race lead three laps from the end. He led home a Douglas one-two with Burton at the chequered flag, however both received five second penalties for track limits infringements.
Therefore from third on the road, Martin picked up his eighth win of the season so far. O’Sullivan (R Racing) came through from ninth on the grid to second overall and the rookie class victory, while James Taylor (Elite Motorsport) picked up his first podium finish since Donington Park.
Hanafin and Burton ended up fourth and sixth respectively, with Aston Millar (R Racing) splitting them as he superbly recorded a maiden rookie podium in only his fourth ever Ginetta race. Haytham Qarajouli (TCR) joined him in picking up his first piece of silverware in a seasons’ best seventh.
Rookies Josh Rattican (R Racing), Ben Kasperczak (Privateer) and Casper Stevenson (Richardson Racing) completed the overall top ten ahead of Bailey Voisin (Douglas Motorsport) and Ethan Hawkey (Richardson Racing), the latter having finished ninth before receiving a track limits penalty.
A wet circuit greeted the field on Sunday morning for the second race of the weekend. Pole man Hedley just fended off a fast-starting Burton to maintain the lead through Copse for the first time, while James Taylor and Hanafin made early progress to slot into the top four.
Those four commenced an exciting battle for the race lead, with Taylor seizing the advantage through Becketts on lap three. Next time around it was Hanafin’s turn at the front though, with O’Sullivan closing in behind to make it a five way contest at the front.
Taylor got back in front on lap six though and was able to edge clear to a 1.1 second victory. Hanafin’s focus had turned to a duel with team-mate Burton for second, with those two completing the podium ahead of title contenders Hedley and O’Sullivan.
Fifth was enough to secure O’Sullivan a 13th Rookie win of the season and with it the class title with four races to spare. Martin rounded out the top six ahead of rookie podium finishers Joel Pearson (R Racing) and Brooks, the latter picking up his first class podium.
Kasperczak and Freddie Tomlinson (Douglas Motorsport) put in impressive drives from the 11th row of the grid to 10th and 12th respectively. They were split in the final results by Qarajouli, with Rattican having led that pack home in ninth place.
The final race of the weekend was televised live on ITV4 on Sunday afternoon and produced the closest race finish of the 2019 season so far. That came at the end of another enthralling battle at the front of the field, which was initially led by Hanafin from the front row of the grid.
The driver to dethrone him was Burton on lap four, however next time around pole man James Taylor got himself back to the front of the pack. After a mid-race safety car period, the action resumed with a four way battle at the front between Taylor, Hanafin, Burton and Hedley.
After swapping positions over the closing laps, it all came down to a sensational run to the chequered flag. In a photo-finish, just 0.091 seconds split the top three as Taylor edged out Hanafin and Burton to secure his fourth race win of the season so far.
It was a repeat of the top four from the earlier race as Hedley came home fourth ahead of Martin and Pearson, who secured his first rookie class win of the season. He was joined on the rostrum by Rattican and Qarajouli, with O’Sullivan just missing out having run up in fourth at one stage.
Hawkey and Ben O’Hare (Premiership Academy Racing) took their top results of the weekend in 10th and 11th respectively, while Stevenson stormed through from 21st to 12th. On his return to the series, Daniel Gale (TCR) picked up a weekend’s best result of 13th.
Molly Dodd (Premiership Academy Racing) had picked up her highest result of the season so far in race one with 15th, while on his second outing off the season, Zak Taylor (Alistair Rushforth Motorsport) enjoyed a top 20 finish.
Two drivers made their debuts in the championship over the weekend, Suleiman Zanfari (Elite Motorsport) and Kieran Fuller (Privateer). Both of them posted their strongest finishes in race two with 16th and 18th respectively.
The 2019 Michelin Ginetta Junior Championship season comes to an end in two weeks’ time (12/13 October) with three races around the Brands Hatch Grand Prix circuit.