Freddie Slater is on the cusp of title glory in the Michelin Ginetta Junior Championship after a brilliant double race win at Cadwell Park. Chase Fernandez also added a victory to his 2023 tally.
As the championship returned to the Lincolnshire circuit for the first time in 15 years, it was a familiar name at the top of the timesheets on Saturday as championship leader Slater (R Racing) set the pace in tricky wet conditions in both free practice and qualifying.
A double pole position increased Slater’s tally to eleven for the season so far, having set a lap time 1.8 seconds faster than anyone else in difficult wet conditions. Only two tenths of a second split the next six drivers though, with Alisha Palmowski (Elite Motorsport) leading that pack.
Slater continued to put on a masterclass in the wet during the opening race that afternoon, storming clear of the field to a 13 second lead margin at one stage. He made a rare mistake with five minutes to go though, suffering a high-speed spin heading out of Gooseneck.
His big advantage meant he was able to recover and continue out front though, eventually securing the win by four seconds. There had been a change for second moments before Slater’s spin, with Mikey Porter (R Racing) completing a great move around the outside of Palmowski at Park corner.
As Slater and Porter finished one-two for the third race in a row. Palmowski made a long-awaited return to the podium in third. Henry Joslyn (Preptech UK) put in a good defensive drive to secure a seasons’ best fourth overall. He took a first rookie class podium finish ahead of Elite Motorsport’s Charlie Hart and Hugo Schwarze.
2023 Ginetta Junior scholar Chase Fernandez (Assetto Racing) had picked off Finn Harrison (Elite Motorsport) through Hall Bends for sixth early on. He was pushing for more progress before sliding onto the grass at the last corner. Harrison was another to suffer an off-track moment.
Fernandez recovered to seventh ahead of Reza Seeworuthun (R Racing) and Mckenzie Douglass (Fox Motorsport). Luca Hopkinson (R Racing) rounded out the top ten. Harrison had to settle for 11th ahead of Felix Livesey (Xentek Motorsport) and Edu Robinson (R Racing).
Slater’s opening success meant R Racing become the highest race-winning team in Junior history. Their tally increased in race two with a dominant, flawless lights-to-flag victory for the champion-elect to take his victory number to 16 for the season.
Behind, it was all-action as a group of drivers fought over the other podium places. Porter held second for the opening couple of laps before a wide moment over The Mountain dropped him behind Hart and Palmowski. A trip over the grass at Park soon after cost Porter more ground. The man on the move behind them was Harrison, as he fought back after slipping to sixth on lap one.
Moves on Palmowski and Hart on consecutive laps netted him second place at the finish. He was almost seven seconds adrift of Slater. Fernandez undoubtedly pulled off the drive of the race. He sensationally charged through from 13th on the grid to third position.
Hart and Palmowski would ultimately miss out on the podium, the latter dropping behind Schwarze on the penultimate lap of the race. Seewooruthun followed her across the line in seventh ahead of Porter and Douglass. Both had to recover from grassy moments, while Hopkinson rounded out the top ten.
Slater headed into the final race of the weekend with a realistic chance of sealing the title with six races to spare. Unfortunately, his hopes were dashed by a mechanical issue that ended his race before it had started. That left a wide-open battle for the race win, with Harrison emerging as the early leader.
Hart grabbed second from Fernandez on lap three. However, slides onto the grass for both drivers at the Hall Bends next time round opened the door for Seeworuthun to take the place. He closed on to Harrison and started to challenge for the lead, with Fernandez close behind.
A dramatic final lap saw contact between the top two allow Fernandez through to take his third win of the season. Seewooruthun and Harrison finished second and third on the road. However, both received five second time penalties for track limits infringements and dropped down the order.
Porter was therefore classified second for the seventh time this season ahead of Hart. Douglass and Joslyn completed the top five, the latter surviving a moment on the opening lap. Harrison ended up sixth ahead of Seewooruthun, who’d also received an additional penalty for his contact with Harrison.
As Hopkinson, Livesey and Palmowski completed the top ten. Harry Moss picked up his best result of the weekend in 11th. His Fox Motorsport team-mate Holly Miall unfortunately didn’t make the finish of that one. She came 15th in the opening two races of the event.
Full Michelin Ginetta Junior championship race results can be found at www.tsl-timing.com/event/232921
All three races can be watched back at www.youtube.com/user/ginettatv
The penultimate round of the 2023 Michelin Ginetta Junior Championship season takes place in seven weeks’ time. It is being held at Brands Hatch in Kent (09/10 September).