Freddie Slater dominated with a stunning hat-trick of race wins as the Michelin Ginetta Junior Championship made its debut on the British GT Championship support package at Oulton Park (08-10 April).
Reigning Winter Series champion Slater (R Racing) picked up where he left off in November. He stormed to a dominant double pole position on Saturday morning. He lapped half a second clear of Charlie Hart (Elite Motorsport), who himself was impressively half a second ahead of the next competitor.
Hugo Schwarze was a great third quickest to kick off his debut weekend in car-racing ahead of his Elite team-mate Alisha Palmowski. Finn Harrison (Assetto Racing) finished fifth on the timesheets ahead of R Racing trio Reza Seewooruthun, Mikey Porter and Luca Hopkinson.
It proved to be a race of two halves for Slater in the season opener that afternoon. A thrilling duel in the opening laps saw Hart trying hard to make a move stick on the leader, with a slide wide at the Shell Hairpin for Slater on lap four giving Hart the lead.
That lasted only one corner though as Hart then ran wide at Britten’s. Slater moved back the front and crucially broke the tow of those behind. From there, he pulled clear to a three second winning margin as a great multi-car battle played out for the remaining podium places.
Elite trio Hart, Schwarze and Palmowski traded positions almost every lap. Ultimately, Palmowski was shuffled back behind Seewooruthun and Porter. Palmowski’s race then unfortunately ended early with an incident exiting Druids. This led to the race being red flagged with two minutes to spare.
Hart ended up getting the best of Schwarze as both drivers secured their maiden podium finishes in the championship. Seewooruthun and Porter completing the top five. Mckenzie Douglass (Elite Motorsport) finished up sixth after an exciting contest with Harrison and Hopkinson.
2023 Ginetta Junior Scholarship winner Chase Fernandez (Assetto Racing) was ninth. Edu Robinson (R Racing) finished tenth on the road before a ten second false start penalty was applied. Brea Angliss (Alastair Rushforth Motorsport) therefore completed the top ten from 16th on the grid.
Overnight rain meant a slightly damp circuit greeted the 14 to 17-year-old talents for race two early on Monday morning. Slater converted pole position into a lights-to-flag victory. However, he didn’t have it all his own way as Schwarze put in a spirited challenge in the closing laps.
Palmowski made first lap progress from fifth to third and ran there comfortably to secure the final podium place. Front-row start Hart held fourth for a while, however he fell into the clutches of those behind. He dropped back to sixth on the road at the finish.
Harrison overcame Seewooruthun for fourth place, while a track limits penalty for the latter dropped him behind Hart in the final result. A thrilling three-way battle for seventh saw Douglass, Hopkinson and Porter run three abreast at one stage. Douglass ultimately emerged with the place.
A wild last lap moment for Hopkinson and Porter saw them both slide across the grass at Island on the last lap, dropping them back to tenth and 12th respectively. Fernandez and Tom Spragg (Preptech UK) took advantage to emerge with top ten finishes. Leo Robinson (Alastair Rushforth Motorsport) took his best result of the weekend in 11th.
Edu Robinson finished up 13th, while a superb multi-car battle at the tail of the field ended with Harry Moss (Fox Motorsport) finishing ahead of Felix Livesey (Xentek Motorsport), Angliss and Holly Miall (Fox Motorsport). Freddie Allum (Elite Motorsport), a 12th place finisher in race one, failed to make the finish.
Rainfall on the green flag lap led to a slippy start to the final race of the weekend. Multiple drivers got caught out at the first corner. Having no such drama was Palmowski, who sensationally shot from third on the grid to the race lead from Slater ahead of a safety car period.
When the race restarted, Slater immediately made a move around the outside at Old Hall corner. As Palmowski began to defend from Schwarze, the leader was able to edge clear to complete his victory clean sweep. Behind, Palmowski soon headed a four-car train battling for the podium.
A mighty defensive drive was set to net her second position before a last lap spin out of the Brittens chicane. That handed second to Schwarze, who ends the weekend with a new championship lap record for the Oulton Park International circuit. Schwarze smashed the previous best by James Kellett during the series’ only previous outing on that layout in 2014.
Seewooruthun superbly battled through to third on the road from ninth at the end of lap one. However, a post-race penalty for gaining an unfair advantage put him behind Harrison, the latter getting a maiden podium finish.
A great first lap for Porter saw him rise from tenth to fifth. Douglass was one of those to have an issue at the opening corner and he mounted a brilliant comeback drive. He rose from 15th at the end of the safety car period to a top six result.
Leo Robinson took his best result of the weekend in seventh. Allum bounced back from a race two retirement in superb style as he scythed his way through from the back of the grid to eighth. Palmowski recovered to ninth, with Edu Robinson completing the top ten.
Angliss, Moss and Miall rounded out the finishers in a race that unfortunately saw a number of non-finishers. Spragg, Hopkinson and Hart were casualties of the first corner drama. Fernandez and Livesey also had incidents – the latter having shot from 15th to eighth on the opening lap.
Full race results can be found at www.tsl-timing.com/event/231405
All three races can be watched back at www.youtube.com/user/ginettatv
The 2023 Michelin Ginetta Junior Championship continues with a first ever outing on the Silverstone Grand Prix circuit in four weeks’ time (06/07 May).