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Watts and Slater Share Wins On Winter Series Day One

12th November 2022 • Simon Paice

R Racing team-mates Luke Watts and Freddie Slater took a race victory each during the opening day of the 2022 Michelin Ginetta Junior Winter Series in association with ATL Ltd at Brands Hatch (12th November).

The 18-car entry were first on track this morning, leaving them contending with greasy track conditions. Alisha Palmowski (Preptech UK) ended up posting the quickest time - the first female Junior pole-sitter in seven years - ahead of Watts (R Racing) and Finn Harrison (Assetto Motorsport).

Watts passed Palmowski on the opening lap of race one, with the latter going on to drop to tenth on lap two after a trip through a gravel trap. That promoted Freddie Slater to second and he commenced an exciting race-long duel with his R Racing team-mate Watts for the win.

A decisive move on the penultimate lap netted Slater the win on the road, however a ten second penalty for a false start dropped him to eighth on the revised result. Watts therefore secured his maiden Ginetta win, leading an R Racing one-two with Luca Hopkinson.

Mckenzie Douglass (Elite Motorsport) produced the drive of the race after he rose from 14th on the grid to an eventual third place finish, with Palmowski fighting back to fourth. Mikey Porter (R Racing) was the leading rookie in fifth overall.

Harrison secured the final berth in the top six ahead of fellow rookie podium finisher Sid Smith (Fox Motorsport) and Slater, with Thomas Spragg (Preptech UK) next up. Nine drivers made their Ginetta debuts in the race, with Charlie Hart (Elite Motorsport) heading that group in tenth overall.

That came after a late move on Dan Munro, who finished 11th for Xentek Motorsport in the team’s first Junior race for seven years. Team-mate Felix Livesey followed him home, with 2023 Scholarship winner Chase Fernandez (Assetto Motorsport) finished 13th.

Slater bounced back from his race one frustration with a supreme drive in the second encounter. A great launch off the line got him ahead of pole-sitter Watts into Paddock Hill Bend for the first time and he quickly built a one second lead, which he maintained throughout for his first Ginetta victory.

Watts followed him from start-to-finish to complete a double podium for the day, which gives him the points lead overnight, while Palmowski secured third place. Reza Seewooruthun (R Racing) had run as high as fourth before retirement in the opener, and he made amends by rising to fourth again in race two.

Harrison and Douglass were on course for top six finishes, the latter from back in 16th on the grid, however last lap contact between the two cost Harrison three places and forced Douglass to retire. Smith took full advantage to finish in fifth, completing the rookie podium with Slater and Seewooruthun.

A good race for Porter saw him gain five positions to finish sixth ahead of Hopkinson and Harrison, while it was Munro’s turn to lead the debutant pack in ninth. Fernandez rose from 14th to a top ten finish ahead of Freddie Allum (Assetto Motorsport) and Brea Angliss (Alastair Rushforth Motorsport).

Harry Moss (Fox Motorsport) moved up from the back of the grid to 13th ahead of Tudor Nechita (Xentek Motorsport), while Hart had been on the cusp of a top ten finish before slipping back to 15th ahead of Livesey.

Today’s session results can be found at www.tsl-timing.com/event/224521

The 2022 Michelin Ginetta Junior Winter Series in association with ATL Ltd action continues tomorrow (13th November), with a repeated schedule of one qualifying session and two races.