Momentum with Middleton after Ginetta Winter Series Success

HHC Motorsport & Lewis Brown were favourites copyThe 7th and 8th November 2015 saw Snetterton host its final race meeting of the season, with the KICK Start Energy Ginetta Junior Championship arriving in Norfolk for an extremely competitive Winter Series. With this being the final Ginetta title to be decided in 2015 and a great way to gather momentum for 2016, a whole host of teenagers returned after mayhem of the main series, to do battle with plenty of rookies, over two qualifying sessions and four races of six laps.

With the grid being the largest in Winter Series history, HHC Motorsport came into the meeting as favourites after securing the main title with Jamie Caroline, with Lewis Brown leading the line-up after switching from R&J Motorsport to partner another newcomer to the team in Will Tregurtha, joining from privateer team Richardson Chassis Engineering after a strong debut season in 2015. With Charlie Fagg returning to HHC for the Winter Series, Charlie Digby joined as the rookie, ahead of what could be a potential run in the Ginetta Juniors for 2016. After wrapping up the teams title in 2015 and narrowly losing out on main title with Senna Proctor, JHR Developments entered the Winter Series with three from their driver line up, with Billy Monger, Seb Perez and Rowan Bailey all looking to give JHR an individual crown to end 2015. The fourth car entered by the team was the 2015 Ginetta Junior Scholarship runner-up, Seb Priaulx, who was looking for overall and rookie honours whilst being watched by four times World Touring Car Champion father Andy Priaulx. Returning after a debut season ending as Rookie Cup Vice Champion was Stuart Middleton with Douglas Motorsport, whilst TCR were back, with regular drivers Connor Grady and Dave Wooder. Two other returnees were Frank Bird, the son of British Superbike Team boss Paul Bird with team R & J Motorsport and Alex Day, with Tollbar Racing.

Elite Motorsport welcomed Harry KingIn terms of the local team, who are based at Snetterton, Elite Motorsport Engineering were back with former Junior Ford Fiesta Champion Geri Nicosia behind the wheel of the Yellow G40, after a maiden campaign, that saw Geri end up on the rookie podium at Snetterton in August. This time though the team were running a second Yellow G40, this time for young gun Harry King, who ended up in the final three of the Ginetta Junior Scholarship and was leading the Whilton Mill Championship in Mini Max at the time of the Scholarship contest.

With the Ginetta Junior Winter Series a great chance for rookies to join the series and target a full season the following year, Snetterton saw plenty sign up. With Charlie Digby, Seb Priaulx and Harry King having joined regular Ginetta Junior teams, other faces appeared in new to the series team. Coming over from Ireland was Ginetta series champion Jordan Dempsey (Motorsport Car Preparation) and his runner up James Roe Jnr (Tollbar Racing), who both had dominated the Ginetta Junior series in Ireland, which uses the older G20 model, rather than the current G40. In addition, Ginetta Junior Scholarship finalist Max Bird joined Xentek Motorsport and final Anthony Ayres joined Mectech, to make a competitive grid of nineteen.

Middleton Controls Saturday with 2 from 2.

Race 1 was dominate for Stuart MiddletonWith conditions wet on Saturday morning, Lewis Brown started the first of four Ginetta Juniors races from pole position for HHC Motorsport, with Stuart Middleton’s blue and white Douglas Motorsport G40 alongside. With the front two favourites to go well in the series, the conditions caught both out at the start of race one, with Billy Monger getting a lightening start from row two, to lead the field into Riches, before sliding wide moments later and handing Stuart Middleton the lead. The mistake occurred due to the conditions and Monger would end up down the order in fifteenth. Middleton set about tackling the conditions in style, pulling clear by over five seconds on the opening lap, whilst Will Tregurtha, Charlie Fagg and Lewis Brown battled over the rights to be best driver for HHC Motorsport. Tregurtha headed this pack on the opening lap, but Charlie Fagg made his move on lap two and was able to hold on. Things didn’t go well for Fagg’s team mates though as Lewis Brown slipped down the order on lap five to tenth, whilst Tregurtha went even further to fourteenth.

Race 1 had Charlie Fagg as Middleton's main rivalGaining positions with the fall of the two from HHC Motorsport was Connor Grady, who inherited third and tried to keep Charlie Fagg in his sights, who was fourteen seconds adrift of race leader Middleton by lap five. With Grady chasing down Fagg for second, rookie Harry King had climbed to fourth for Elite Motorsport Engineering, with an impressive drive from sixth on the grid and was leading the rookie category of the series. In the closing stages, Sebastian Perez put Harry under pressure for fourth place but by the final lap, Sebastian dropped to ninth in a battling pack. Coming out on top of the tussle was Dave Wooder, securing fifth for TCR, with Max Bird, the recovering Lewis Brown and Alex Day all jumping Perez on the final lap. Completing the top ten for the opening race was the second Elite Motorsport G40 of Geri Nicosia, who had climbed from thirteenth on the grid to hold off William Tregurtha on the final lap by 0.185 seconds, in a train of Ginettas that included Rowan Bailey and Billy Monger.

With Stuart Middleton taking the maximum points for the opening race, he led the way with Charlie Fagg in second; whilst Harry King secured the rookie honours for race one, ahead of Max Bird and Seb Priaulx.

KICK Start Energy Ginetta Junior Championship Winter Series – Race One – Top Five

  1. Stuart Middleton (No.75 – Douglas Motorsport) = 6 Laps = 15:56.706
  2. Charlie Fagg (No.28 – HHC Motorsport) = +17.596s
  3. Connor Grady (No.25 – TCR) = +20.091s
  4. Harry King (No.19 – R – Elite Motorsport Engineering) = +22.248s
  5. Dave Wooder (No.27 – TCR) = +27.827s

For race two on Saturday, conditions never really improved as Stuart Middleton lined up on pole position, as of results from race one. With Charlie Fagg alongside, it was the HHC Motorsport Ginetta that got away well, leading Middleton into Riches, with Connor Grady and Harry King closing in quickly and challenging for second. As Middleton as able to pull away and secure second, the gap to Fagg decreased suddenly, with positions changing on lap two at Oggies. The overtake by Middleton dropped Charlie Fagg into the clutches of Connor Grady, before the TCR driver lost ground to William Tregurtha and Billy Monger. Both Tregurtha and Monger had achieved brilliant starts from eleventh and thirteenth on the grid and were shadowing Fagg on laps three, four and five, as Stuart Middleton disappeared out front to an eight seconds advantage.

Race 2 saw strength from William TregurthaThe final lap was where it all changed with Tregurtha overhauling his team mate for second, before Billy Monger grabbed the final podium spot from Charlie Fagg, ending his chances of a strong result after starting on the front row. Holding onto a top five finish was Connor Grady, two seconds down on Fagg, whilst holding a comfortable margin over rookie winner Harry King, who secured yet more honours in his debut outing with Elite Motorsport Engineering. Keeping Sebastian Perez behind for a sixth place finish was another superb drive for Harry King, whilst the other Elite Motorsport Ginetta of Geri Nicosia was involved in another battle for eighth place. Four Ginetta ran bumper to bumper for much of the race, with Geri Nicosia fighting with Alex Day, Seb Priaulx, Jordan Dempsey and Dave Wooder. Entering the penultimate lap, Geri held eighth place, slightly ahead of Day and Wooder, with Priaulx just dropping away. Positions all changed on the final lap in typical Ginetta fashion, with Dave Wooder securing eighth and dropping Geri Nicosia to ninth. Alex Day would end up tenth ahead of newcomer Jordan Dempsey, with Priaulx down in fifteenth after making an error and falling behind a struggling Lewis Brown, Rowan Bailey and James Roe Jnr.

With the chequered flag raised to end day one, Stuart Middleton was in full control of the Ginetta Junior Winter Series, leading on 71 points, with the rookie category going the way of Harry King, who like Middleton had two consecutive victories.

KICK Start Energy Ginetta Junior Championship Winter Series – Race Two – Top Five

  1. Stuart Middleton (No.75 – Douglas Motorsport) = 6 Laps = 16:10.881
  2. William Tregurtha (No.71 – HHC Motorsport) = +8.823s
  3. Billy Monger (No.23 – JHR Developments) = +11.077s
  4. Charlie Fagg (No.28 – HHC Motorsport) = +12.357s
  5. Connor Grady (No.25 – TCR) = +12.849s

KICK Start Energy Ginetta Junior Championship Winter Series – Provisional Standings:

  1. Stuart Middleton (No.75 – Douglas Motorsport) = 71 Pts
  2. Charlie Fagg (No.28 – HHC Motorsport) = 52 Pts.
  3. Connor Grady (No.25 – TCR) = 46 Pts
  4. Harry King (No.19 – R – Elite Motorsport Engineering) = 40 Pts.
  5. William Tregurtha (No.71 – HHC Motorsport) = 40 Pts

Victory in Race 3 Hands Middleton the Title.

Conditions were far better for the final two races of the weekend on Sunday, with qualifying setting the grid positions for race 3, and then the race result setting grid for race 4. Holding a nineteen point lead over closest rival Charlie Fagg entering Sunday, victory for Middleton would be enough for him to wrap up the title, however qualifying didn’t go to plan with Lewis Brown on pole position for race 3 and Middleton only fifth. With Charlie Fagg lining up third, Stuart Middleton would need a storming start to make sure the title challenge didn’t go on to race 4.

Race 3 dominated by Stuart Middleton for the titleWhen the lights went out to opened the racing on Sunday, it was Middleton who got the better start, climbing up the order extremely quickly to lead at the end of lap one, with Billy Monger a close second and Lewis Brown trailing in third from pole. For Middleton’s title rival, a slow start from row two saw Charlie Fagg holding fifth on the opening lap, tussling with Dave Wooder and losing any chance he had of keeping the title fight alive.

Race 3 podium decided by Seb Perez for 1st timeWith Middleton controlling proceedings out front in similar style to Saturday, Seb Perez was the driver on a charge, climbing up the order from ninth on the grid to hold third behind Lewis Brown on lap five. In making his way up the order, Perez pulled off some great moves on his rivals and then defended off Dave Wooder to achieve an emotional first podium since joining the Ginetta Junior Championship. In the midst of Perez carving up the field, Charlie Fagg’s hopes of winning the Winter Series faded on lap five, when Fagg found himself eighth behind Geri Nicosia and out of contention, with Stuart Middleton in sight of the title out front.

In terms of the rookie class, Harry King took his third consecutive class win for Elite Motorsport engineering, after coming home in ninth ahead of fellow rookie Max Bird. After dicing for much of the early part of the race with team mate Geri Nicosia, Harry fell into the clutches of his rookie rivals but was able to hold onto victory at the flag. The third win of the weekend for Harry put him on the brink of the Ginetta Junior Winter Series Rookie title.

KICK Start Energy Ginetta Junior Championship Winter Series – Race Three – Top Five

  1. Stuart Middleton (No.75 – Douglas Motorsport) = 6 Laps = 15:11.324
  2. Lewis Brown (No.3 – HHC Motorsport) = +8.503s
  3. Seb Perez (No.77 – JHR Developments) = +13.400s
  4. William Tregurtha (No.71 – HHC Motorsport) = +15.572s
  5. Billy Monger (No.23 – JHR Developments) = +16.504s

Race 4 controlled by Billy MongerFor the last race of the Ginetta Junior Winter Series, the restraints were surely off for most, as with the titles decided, the nature of door panel bashing that occurs within Ginetta Juniors certainly happened. A frantic opening lap saw the lead change regularly, before Billy Monger held off Stuart Middleton, which then allowed Dave Wooder and Lewis Brown to drop the Winter Champion to fourth. With drivers battling to crown themselves Winter Series Vice-Champion, a collision for Charlie Fagg on the opening lap destroyed the front end of his G40 and ended his race and weekend.

With the race reaching its mid-way point, Billy Monger controlled the race, but Dave Wooder was pushing hard to close the gap, whilst fighting hard to keep Lewis Brown in third. Into the closing stages, a challenge from Brown on Wooder allowed Billy Monger to break away, securing the race honours and therefore ending the season as Winter Series Vice-Champion. As Brown secured second on the final lap and took another second place finish on Sunday, Dave Wooder took his first podium of the weekend, ahead of Champion Stuart Middleton. Completing the top five was Seb Perez, just ahead of a charging Geri Nicosia, who ended his weekend stronger after struggling in the wet on Saturday.

Race 4 saw Harry King do enough for Rookie honoursAfter taking three wins in the rookie class, Harry King had to settle for second in the final race after Max Bird took his first win for Xentek, with an eighth place finish, however this wasn’t enough to deny Harry King the rookie title. Third in the rookie standings ended up being Seb Priaulx, who ended the final race in twelfth and right on the bumper of Harry King at the flag.

KICK Start Energy Ginetta Junior Championship Winter Series – Race Three – Top Five

  1. Billy Monger (No.23 – JHR Developments) = 6 Laps = 14:31.815
  2. Lewis Brown (No.3 – HHC Motorsport) = +0.140s
  3. Dave Wooder (No.27 – TCR) = +0.286s
  4. Start Middleton (No.75 – Douglas Motorsport) = +1.843s
  5. Seb Perez (No.77 – JHR Developments) = +9.973s

KICK Start Energy Ginetta Junior Championship Winter Series – Final Provisional Standings:

  1. Stuart Middleton (No.75 – Douglas Motorsport) = 129 Pts
  2. Billy Monger (No.23 – JHR Developments) = 89 Pts.
  3. Lewis Brown (No.3 – HHC Motorsport) = 88 Pts.
  4. Dave Wooder (No.27 – TCR) = 77 Pts.
  5. Seb Perez (No.77 – JHR Developments) = 74 Pts.

KICK Start Energy Ginetta Junior Championship Winter Series – Rookie Top Three Standings:

  1. Harry King (No.19 – Elite Motorsport) = 62 Pts
  2. Max Bird (No.44 – Xentek) = 48 Pts.
  3. Seb Priaulx (No.11 – JHR Developments) = 31 Pts.

For more photos from this event, please visit our Flick Album here.

Written and Produced by Chris Collier and Cheryl Closs

 

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