25th September 2022

Rowledge Closes On Ginetta Junior Title As Macintyre Seals Rookie Crown

Josh Rowledge is on the verge of title glory in the Michelin Ginetta Junior Championship after scoring a brilliant double win in the penultimate event at Silverstone, while Will Macintyre provisionally secured the rookie class crown.

Rowledge Closes On Ginetta Junior Title As Macintyre Seals Rookie Crown

We will soon know who will take the crown for the 2022 Michelin Ginetta Junior Championship. Keep reading to see who could be taking that first place prize.

Sonny Smith (R Racing) kicked off the weekend in style by topping qualifying for the fourth time this season, picking up a maiden double pole position. Kanato Le (Elite Motorsport) backed up a first pole last time out at Thruxton by qualifying second on the grid for the first two Silverstone outings.

Harri Reynolds (Assetto Motorsport) finished third fastest overall ahead of Macintyre (Elite Motorsport), with those two swapping places for the race two grid. Freddie Slater (R Racing) and Maurice Henry (Fox Motorsport) rounded out the top six on the timesheets.

The opening race began with Le getting the jump on pole-sitter Smith off the line, before the latter was caught up in an unfortunate incident at Becketts with Macintyre and Reynolds. While Smith went on to retire from the race, the others were able to continue.

As Le ended the opening lap in front, Liam McNeilly (Fox Motorsport) had shot up from eighth to second ahead of R Racing team-mates Slater and Rowledge. Those two swapped places on lap two, before a sweeping move around the outside at Brooklands on lap three netted Rowledge the lead.

Four cars soon broke away from the pack to tussle for the lead, with an exemplary defence from Rowledge netting him his 10th career win in Ginetta racing. McNeilly ran second for the first half of the race before getting shuffled back to fourth behind Le and Reynolds.

As Le went on to finish second, McNeilly got back ahead of Reynolds through Brooklands on the penultimate lap to complete the podium in his 70th start in Ginetta Juniors. On his second weekend in the series, Slater picked up a new personal best result in fifth and a rookie podium too.

There was some great action around the bottom of the top six throughout the race. After dropping back to 11th early on, Luke Watts (R Racing) produced a brilliant fightback to sixth ahead of Henry. Completing the top ten after trading places throughout the race were Preptech UK duo Zac Meakin and Alisha Palmowski, and Mckenzie Douglass (Elite Motorsport).

Macintyre was unable to make much progress after his first lap drama as he finished up 11th, though that result was still enough to provisionally secure him the rookie title with five races to spare. His Elite Motorsport team-mates Aqil Alibhai and Joe Warhurst were next up as both dropped out of overall title contention.

Ella Lloyd (Assetto Motorsport) spun back to 20th on lap two before charging back through to 14th ahead of three drivers completing their first ever race in the championship; Sid Smith (Fox Motorsport), Thomas Spragg and Mikey Porter (both Preptech UK).

An action-packed opening lap to race two culminated in Le picking up the lead at Brooklands as pole-sitter Smith ran wide and dropped to fifth. Henry impressively emerged in second, however next time round he lost momentum whilst avoiding a spinning Le in front.

That all helped Rowledge to sweep around the outside of them all and take the lead, having started fifth on the grid. That began another exciting battle at the front of the field, which was paused for a few laps by the emergence of the safety car mid-race.

When action resumed, Rowledge had his mirrors full of a pack of cars behind but kept them at arm’s length to record another crucial victory in his 50th start in Ginetta Juniors. Also reaching the half century was Reynolds, who stormed past Smith at Luffield on the final lap to grab second.

Macintyre pounced on that move and went on to edge out Smith in a photo-finish for third place, while a stunning drive for Le saw him recover from back in 22nd after his early spin to finish in fifth place, edging out Henry in their own super close duel to the chequered flag.

Slater and Adam Brown (Ultimate Speed Racing) had finished fifth and eighth on the road respectively, however five second penalties for track limits infringements dropped them out of the top ten. Douglass benefitted to finish seventh in the revised result ahead of the impressive debutant duo of Porter and Sid Smith.

Watts rounded out the top ten ahead of Slater and McNeilly, the latter having to fight back after spinning down to 22nd on the opening lap. Palmowski recovered from a rotation of her own to 13th ahead of Luca Hopkinson (R Racing), Brown and Spragg.

The final newcomer on the grid Finn Harrison (Assetto Motorsport) picked up points in 17th ahead of team-mate Liona Theobald and Shravan Shanmugavel (Elite Motorsport), while Flynn McHardy (Preptech UK) was amongst five drivers to sadly not make the finish.

The last race of the weekend was televised live on ITV4 on Sunday afternoon, with the grid set by the race two result. Reynolds jumped ahead of Rowledge into Copse corner, however they would both go on to lose out during a busy opening lap and dropped to fourth and seventh respectively.

Le and Smith emerged as the top two and they soon broke away from the pack behind. Macintyre, Rowledge and Reynolds traded third place between themselves in the early stages, with Rowledge going on to take a firm grasp of the position heading into the final lap.

Ahead, Le and Smith’s duel for the victory came to a dramatic conclusion as contact between them at Brooklands on the last lap led to Le spinning off circuit. Smith took the chequered flag first, however post-race he was disqualified from the result for his part in the incident.

Rowledge was second on the road, however a five second penalty for track limits infringements cost him a podium finish and deprived him of the chance to win the title with a weekend to spare. It was Macintyre therefore that came away with a fifth overall victory of the season so far.

Reynolds and Le went on to round out the overall podium, with Rowledge classified fourth. Slater capped off a superb weekend in fifth, with McNeilly gaining six places across the race to complete the top six ahead of Douglass, Henry, Watts and Hopkinson.

Warhurst and Alibhai fought through from the back two rows of the grid to finish 11th and 12th respectively ahead of Ginetta Junior scholar Palmowski and Porter, who both lost ground with five second track limits penalties.

Will Macintyre – Provisional 2022 Michelin Ginetta Junior Championship Rookie Champion:

“I’m delighted to secure the rookie title. We’ve kept our nose clean throughout the year, haven’t had a DNF and been able to challenge right at the front of the grid. To also be contending for the main title is insane for our first year and I can’t thank Elite Motorsport enough, they’ve done a terrific job.”

The 2022 Michelin Ginetta Junior Championship season comes to an end with three races on the Brands Hatch Grand Prix circuit on 08/09 October.

Full race results from the weekend can be found at https://www.tsl-timing.com/event/223803


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