A seventh win of the season secured Hedley his second Ginetta Junior title, having also won the Winter Series last year. It is back-to-back successes for Elite Motorsport as well, who won the 2018 crown with Adam Smalley and have also wrapped up this year’s Teams’ crown.
The weekend started in perfect fashion for Hedley, who set the pace in damp conditions in qualifying on Saturday to secure a fifth double pole position of the season. Ginetta Junior Scholar Ethan Brooks (TCR) starred too as he secured a front row start for the second weekend in a row.
A fantastic display from Daniel Gale (TCR) saw him take a career best qualifying result of third ahead of Lorcan Hanafin (Douglas Motorsport), Will Martin (Richardson Racing) and James Taylor (Elite Motorsport), with Hedley’s chief title rival Zak O’Sullivan (R Racing) in seventh.
Hedley headed into the opening race of the weekend needing to outscore O’Sullivan by five points to provisionally take the title, but his focus was firmly on taking the race win. A good launch off the line ensured he led the field through an action-packed opening lap.
Following a safety car period, Hedley initially came under pressure from the fast-starting James Taylor at the restart but began to edge away in the closing laps to take the win and with it the title. Taylor followed him home to complete an Elite Motorsport one-two.
A last lap move secured Martin third overall, having also posted the fastest lap of the race. Brooks came home fourth for his maiden rookie class victory ahead of O’Sullivan, Hanafin and Gus Burton (Douglas Motorsport), the latter rising from 22nd on the grid to seventh in five racing laps.
Ethan Hawkey (Richardson Racing) was eighth overall ahead of the final rookie podium finisher Josh Rattican (R Racing), with Ben O’Hare (Premiership Academy Racing) following them past the chequered flag to complete the top ten.
Race two took place on Saturday evening and went into the darkness in Kent. A great launch from Hanafin off the line saw him leapfrog Hedley for the race lead, with the poleman eventually slipping to sixth behind James Taylor, Joel Pearson (R Racing), O’Sullivan and Brooks.
Following two back-to-back safety car spells, there was a three lap shootout to the flag. Brooks stormed through from fifth to second and challenged Hanafin for the win, but the latter fended him off to record his second win of the season.
James Taylor grabbed second on the last lap for a fifth consecutive podium result, while third was enough for Brooks to secure his first outright top three and a second rookie win of the day. Pearson was fourth, while late drama for O’Sullivan and Martin promoted Hedley back to fifth.
Another stunning drive from Burton saw him climb through from 23rd to sixth ahead of O’Hare and first time rookie podium finisher Bailey Voisin (Douglas Motorsport), while Zak Taylor (Alistair Rushforth Motorsport) finished ninth on the road but received a time penalty.
That put him behind Richardson Racing duo Hawkey and Casper Stevenson. Gale was next, while great performances from Suleiman Zanfari (Elite Motorsport) and Nat Hodgkiss (Race Car Consultants) saw them secure top fifteen finishes in only their second meetings in the series.
The final race of the 2019 season took place on Sunday afternoon live on ITV4, with a stop-start encounter featuring three safety car periods. The top three of Hanafin, James Taylor and Brooks remained the same until after the second stoppage.
An action-packed couple of laps saw Brooks briefly hold the lead before it went back to Hanafin. James Taylor and Hedley made challenges for the front, however the man to decisively storm through to the race lead with a stunning double move was Martin.
The safety car came back out to end the battle, with the race eventually finishing under yellows. Therefore Martin took the final win of the campaign with a sensational drive from 19th on the grid, his ninth victory of the year, with Hanafin in second.
Brooks completed his best weekend of the campaign with a second overall podium and third rookie win, while Hawkey made great late progress to fourth. Hedley sealed his title-winning campaign in fifth ahead of James Taylor, with O’Sullivan in seventh from 18th at the start.
Stevenson and Haytham Qarajouli (TCR) took their best results of the weekend in eighth and ninth respectively, with similar achievements for Aston Millar (R Racing) and Freddie Tomlinson (Douglas Motorsport) in 12th and 16th respectively.
Earlier in the weekend, Frankie Taylor (Team Hard) and Molly Dodd (Premiership Academy Racing) took their best results in race one with 14th and 15th respectively, while privateer Ben Kasperczak’s weekend highlight was 15th in race two.
James Hedley – 2019 Ginetta Junior Champion: “This is going to take a while to sink in, I’m so happy! We got the championship lead early in the season and I’ve been determined to keep it ever since. It’s been an incredible season and a huge thank you to Elite Motorsport for everything.”
Zak O’Sullivan – 2019 Ginetta Junior ‘Rookie’ Champion: “We came into the season with the target of a few wins and a shot at the rookie crown, so to come away with the title and second in the overall standings in my first season of racing is fantastic. Well done to James [Hedley] for the overall title.”
While the main championship is complete, the Ginetta Junior action is not finished for 2019 with a return to Brands Hatch in four weeks’ time (09/10 November) for the annual Winter Series. More information can be found at https://www.ginetta.com/news/2019-ginetta-junior-winter-series-set-for-november.