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Smalley Clinches Junior Title in Dramatic Finale

30th September 2018 • Stephen Kilbey

The final races of the 2018 Ginetta Junior Championship at Brands Hatch proved to be spectacular, with Adam Smalley taking the Race 2 honours, before winning the title with a fifth-place finish in the final race of the season.

The first race of the day, was incident-packed, points leader Adam Smalley edging closer to the Junior Championship title with his seventh win of the season in the #54 Elite Motorsport G40.  

Behind Smalley, there was an intense fight for the other two podium places, which ended with title contender Louis Foster finishing second, ahead of an opportunistic Patrick Kibble who took the final podium spot.  

Due to incidents out on track, the Safety Car made two appearances. Before its second apperance, the drama up front peaked, when James Hedley, who was second at the time in the #67 Elite Motorsport G40, ran three-wide with Foster and Luke Browning heading into Dingle Dell.  

Hedley ended up losing control of his car, spinning and tagging Browning. This allowed Foster to rise from fourth to second, and Kibble, who was fifth, to snatch third.  

Shortly after, the Safety Car came out again due to an off for the delayed Fin Green and Ethan Hawkey having an off on the GP loop. This neutralised the field until the end of the race, which finished under Safety Car, the pressure off for Smalley in the closing minutes.  

“I did all I could there when the Safety Car was in the pits. Just what we needed going into the last race. It was a great race for me,” said Smalley.  

“The lap I did after the Safety Car came in was as quick as my Qualifying time, that shows you how big the tow is here. Anything can happen though can’t it, I went into Silverstone with a big gap, and left with almost nothing.” 

“I would have been past after a few more laps, we had the pace to do it. I couldn’t do anything though because of the safety car. Hopefully we can come back with a win.” Second place finisher (but first of the rookies) Foster added.  

Behind Kibble, Browning crossed the line fourth ahead of James Taylor.  

The result meant that the title race would go down to the wire, with Smalley heading into the final race with a 26-point lead over Foster, and a 35-point advantage over Browning.  

Smalley 02 2

The third race of the weekend in the afternoon proved to be drama-filled and a worthy finale to the season. Louis Foster took the victory, but it was Adam Smalley who took the title, despite dropping down the field from Pole to fifth during the race.  

Smalley held the lead on the run down to Paddock Hill Bend, but couldn’t quite hold on until the end of the lap. Luke Browning in the #11 Richardson Racing G40 charged from fourth to the lead, his move on Smalley coming at Westfield. That left the door open for Foster to nab second too.  

The Safety Car then made an appearance for an off which left Tom Emson’s #27 Elite G40 stranded in the gravel at Paddock Hill. But before the field had come round to start the next lap, Foster had made a move for the lead, pushing Browning to second.  

When the race went green again, the battle for the lead resumed, and lasted until the end. Foster and Browning pushed each other to the limit, with Patrick Kibble climbing to third in the #87 TCR example, making it a three-car train at times.  

All the while, Smalley was under pressure to finish high enough up the order to take the title. Finish lower than eight, and the battle between Foster and Browning would become crucial, finish in the top eight however, and the crown was his.  

Smalley fell to fifth behind James Taylor, and consequently spent the final laps of the race defending hard. With the title on the line though, he didn’t crack under pressure and managed to win seal the championship, as Browning and Foster went at it hammer and tongs for the lead.   

Foster went on to win, with Browning second and Kibble third. For Smalley it was a real cause for celebration, despite finishing off the podium. 

“It was pretty horrific!" he said after the race. "I got passed on the first lap, and then beaten up after that. I knew I had to finish around sixth to take the title comfortably. The goal was to go out and win it, but I did what I needed to to. I couldn’t control the emotion, it was too overwhelming, I’m over the moon.  

“We’ve been unfortunate in races, coming out on top is great.”  

Foster meanwhile, was still extremely pleased with his performance during the year, despite narrowly missing out on the title.  

“I’m mega pleased, the title would have been amazing, but I’m in my rookie year and my rivals were not," he explained. "To come away with all the amazing stats, first person to win three races in a row, then five races in a row, it’s amazing. This year has been amazing, I can’t thank the team, my family, and sponsors enough.  

“I’m not disappointed at all, I’m really happy for Adam. I went out there and had fun, which is what I wanted to do going into the year.”