Freddie Slater has increased his points lead in the Michelin Ginetta Junior Championship with another double victory in the latest triple-header weekend at Donington Park (27/28 May).
Slater (R Racing) headed into the weekend with a 100% record in qualifying across the opening two events and he continued that run on Saturday morning, securing a double pole position with a margin of over half a second from Alisha Palmowski (Elite Motorsport).
Finn Harrison (Assetto Racing) and R Racing duo Mikey Porter and Luca Hopkinson all produced their best qualifying performances of the season so far to complete the top five ahead of Elite Motorsport team-mates Hugo Schwarze and Charlie Hart.
The first ever Ginetta Junior race on the full Donington Park Grand Prix circuit proved to be an absolute thriller, with multiple cars battling it out for the race win throughout the race. Slater held the early advantage from Harrison, who passed Palmowski at the first corner before they switched back places a couple of laps later.
On lap five Palmowski made a dive for the lead stick into the Melbourne Hairpin, with an attempted fightback from Slater at the Old Hairpin on the next lap only resulting in a loss of momentum that dropped him behind Harrison and Hopkinson.
The championship leader immediately made up the lost ground though as he passed Hopkinson through the chicane and Harrison into the Melbourne hairpin, before picking off Palmowski at Redgate in the beginning of lap eight to regain the lead.
Slater was able to make a break as the action raged on behind him. Harrison and Palmowski traded second place as Hart also joined the party, before contact in the group at Goddards allowed Schwarze to storm through to second ahead of Harrison, with Palmowski shuffled back to sixth.
Ahead, Slater took the win on the road however for the second race in a row, a five second time penalty for exceeding track limits cost him the victory. Schwarze therefore secured his maiden race win, while Harrison was another to receive a track limits penalty dropping him out of third.
Palmowski climbed back to fourth on the road and was rewarded with second in the final result, while Mckenzie Douglass (Fox Motorsport) ended up with a brilliant podium from 12th on the grid. Leo Robinson (R Racing) was fourth, with Slater and Harrison ultimately rounding out the top six.
Reza Seewooruthun (R Racing) was in the thick of the action as he finished up seventh ahead of Freddie Allum (Elite Motorsport) and Hart, the latter having dropped back from the lead pack with bonnet damage before also receiving a track limits penalty.
Tom Spragg (Preptech UK) rounded out the top ten ahead of Fox Motorsport’s Harry Moss and Holly Miall, and Brea Angliss (Breakell Racing). Hopkinson, Porter, Henry Joslyn (Preptech UK) and Chase Fernandez (Assetto Racing) had all been in the top ten battles before having to retire from the race.
Slater bounced back from his opening race frustration with a dominant display in race two on Sunday morning. Successfully negotiating a mid-race safety car restart, the reigning Winter Series champion then pulled clear of the field to a 2.3 second victory.
His efforts were aided by an exciting late battle for second between Hopkinson, Hart and Douglass. Hopkinson, who had passed front-row starter Palmowski on the opening lap, managed to fend them off for his first podium of the season, while Hart came home third.
Last corner contact dropped Douglass back to sixth at the line, with R Racing pair Porter and Seewooruthun getting ahead. That completed a stunning drive from the latter, who charged his way through the field from 18th on the grid to the top five.
Action-packed races for Palmowski and Joslyn ended with seventh and eighth place finishes respectively ahead of 2023 Ginetta Junior Scholarship winner Fernandez. Schwarze fought back from a lap one spin to finish the top ten, with Moss matching his seasons’ best P11 from race one.
The final race of the weekend was once again the Slater show, as he led the race from the opening lap and increased the gap through the race to a three second winning margin, securing him a seventh win from nine races so far this year.
Hart moved up to second at the opening corner and had Porter looming large in his mirrors throughout the race. While he held him off to the flag, a track limits penalty would ultimately drop him back to fourth behind Porter and Schwarze, who had impressively climbed up from tenth on the grid.
He was amongst those to benefit from an incident between Palmowski and Fernandez that put them both in the gravel whilst battling for fourth place. Hopkinson was fifth, recovering well from a tough opening couple of laps that saw him slip from second to tenth.
Seewooruthun was sixth on the road, however a track limits penalty dropped him to ninth behind Preptech UK pair Joslyn and Spragg, as well as Edu Robinson (R Racing) in a seasons’ best eighth. Felix Livesey (Xentek Motorsport) picked up his maiden top ten finish meanwhile.
Full race results can be found at www.tsl-timing.com/event/232105
All three races can be watched back at www.youtube.com/user/ginettatv
The 2023 Michelin Ginetta Junior Championship continues with G Fest next weekend (02-04 June), contesting six races across the Silverstone Grand Prix and National layouts.