No less than 60 young drivers battled it out for one of the biggest prizes in UK motorsport during the three-day event (25-27 October) at Ginetta’s own Blyton Park circuit in Lincolnshire, with the entrants completing a number of driving, fitness and media assessments.
Leading teams from the Ginetta paddock supplied Ginetta G40’s for the event – Elite Motorsport, Assetto Motorsport, Preptech UK, Xentek Motorsport and Alastair Rushforth Motorsport – with an elite group of judges sitting in the passenger seats.
Led by Ginetta factory driver Charlie Robertson, the driving panel included two former winners of the Scholarship, Adam Smalley and Sennan Fielding, fellow Junior alumni James Kellett, Max Coates and Ben Green, plus experienced racer James Littlejohn.
Off-track, ITV commentator Richard John Neil evaluated the teenage entrants’ media and communication skills, while Ginetta’s in-house personal trainer Richard Chessman put their fitness and determination to the test with a range of physical challenges.
The sheer depth of talent competing was shown by the fact 28 drivers made it through to the final day of competition. They each got another session on circuit in treacherous wet conditions in the morning, before the field was narrowed down to a top 13.
After another round of assessments, a top eight was selected, who each headed out on track one more time before the final four was picked. They had one last run behind the wheel of a Ginetta G40, with Robertson alongside them.
Fernandez impressed the judges across the various assessments and was named the youngest ever winner of the Ginetta Junior Scholarship, receiving his trophy from 2022 scholar Alisha Palmowski (below). The Greater Manchester based driver, who turned 14 years of age on Tuesday (25th October), steps up to car-racing following four years in domestic karting.
His full prize package for 2023 includes all entry fees, use of a G40 Junior race car for the whole season including consumables, insurance and a season supply of race tyres and fuel, and professional car preparation from an experienced team for the duration of the season.
Chase Fernandez, 2023 Ginetta Junior Scholar: “I’m speechless. I never expected to be here as the winner, it’s an incredible feeling. The competition has been really high this year with some great drivers taking part, so to win against such a talented entry is just amazing.
“I’m going to be making be racing debut in the Winter Series next month, which will be a great taster for what’s to come next year. I’m going to put everything I’ve got in to 2023 and I’m going to do the best I can to represent Ginetta and have a successful season.”
Steph Bush, Ginetta Championships Manager: “Every year we are hugely impressed by how talented the young drivers contesting the Ginetta Junior Scholarship are, and this year was no exception with a high standard being set across all the assessment areas on both qualifying days.
“We ended up with a high number of finalists and they continued to raise the bar. It was a close call between the last four drivers in particular, but Chase stood out to our judging panel and is a hugely deserving winner. We’re very excited to have him racing with us next season.”
The 2022 Ginetta race season comes to an end next month (12/13 November) with the Michelin Ginetta Junior Winter Series in association with ATL Ltd at Brands Hatch in Kent.
Final 4: Chase Fernandez, Charlie Hart, Daniel Munro, Leo Robinson
Final 8: Brandon Carr, Jenson Mason, Monti Maassen, Fionn McLaughlin
Final 13: Ewan Charman, Joe Cheek, Alfie Garford, Leo Purches, Martin Stoyanov
Final 28: Freddie Allum, Flame Airikkala, Brea Angliss, Lucas Bell, Nathan James Boyle, Harrison Crowther, Alfie Davis, Henry Foote, Jamie Gurney, Freddie Housley, Travis Mawhinney, Holly Miall, Hugh Moulton, Tudor Nechita, Edward Robinson