HILL BACK ON TOP STEP OF PODIUM WITH PAIR OF DONINGTON WINS Erstwhile Ginetta Junior Championship leader Jake Hill made an overdue return to the top step of the podium at Donington Park today, Sunday, 19th September, during round 17 of the season ...
HILL BACK ON TOP STEP OF PODIUM WITH PAIR OF DONINGTON WINS
Erstwhile Ginetta Junior Championship leader Jake Hill made an overdue return to the top step of the podium at Donington Park today, Sunday, 19th September, during round 17 of the season -- and duly followed the success up with another win in round 18.
Marking the Tollbar driver's eighth and ninth victories of the season, the results also mean he has moved back past Louise Richardson in the title race to become points leader Tom Ingram's only realistic challenger for the 2010 crown ahead of the Brands Hatch finale three weeks from now.
Although Richardson isn't mathematically out of the reckoning, a tumultuous weekend at Donington saw her leave the Leicestershire track with very hard fought seventh and fourth place finishes in the two races. The TJ Motorsport racer is therefore now over 70 points adrift of Ingram.
Hillspeed's championship leader has a comfortable 42 point cushion over Hill thanks to a consistently strong, if less than straightforward, pair of finishes -- fourth in round 17 and second place in round 18 -- so he certainly has the box seat for the last two rounds. That said, in Ginetta Junior racing absolutely anything can happen as this weekend's action proved!
"It's not been a bad weekend, we've had decent results so I can't complain and the championship lead is still big going into the last two rounds", said Ingram, "We needed two good finishes and even though we had a problem in the first race, we managed to recover which was great."
Outgoing champion Sarah Moore made a welcome return to the podium with second in the first race, fractionally ahead of brother David. Seb Morris etched his name into the record books as the youngest driver in the category's history, and possibly on the whole Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship package, to secure a podium finish -- aged just 14.
At the start of the opener, Ingram led from pole position with fellow front row starter Morris tucking in behind his team-mate. Further behind though, all hell broke loose at Redgate when Adam Bonham was tagged by David Moore and Ryan Ratcliffe was pitched into a spin by Tom Howard.
Several others got caught-up in the incident, notably Richardson who ran wide through the gravel, so the deployment of the Safety Car on lap two was no surprise. At that point Ingram led Hill -- who enjoyed an excellent first lap to move up from fifth on the grid -- with Morris third, Sarah Moore fourth, David Moore in fifth and William Foster rounding out the top six.
The re-start came on lap four with sixth placed Foster under serious pressure from Max Coates but back at the front, Hill managed to take the lead from Ingram through Schwantz Curve. Hill wasn't able to shake off Ingram though as they pulled clear of the rest but on lap five at the Old Hairpin, Morris was back on terms and the Moores also moved into the lead bunch to make it a five car train.
Lap six marked the turning point for Ingram when an electrical glitch cut the fuel pump on his G40 and he suddenly slowed, dropping to ninth place before he was able to get the car back up to racing speed. This gave Hill the breathing space he needed and he stretched away to an eventual winning margin of over six seconds.
Morris then encountered misfortune on lap eight into the Old Hairpin when a small mistake under braking sent him off into the gravel out of second place -- he eventually recovered into 10th. Sarah Moore, therefore, inherited second with David Moore third.
Ingram battled his way back through to fourth, which could be crucial in the final outcome of the championship, with Howard fifth, Bonham sixth -- the Team Parker Racing driver also posted the fastest lap for a bonus point -- and Richardson mounting a sterling recovery into seventh. Jody Fannin finished eighth ahead of Coates and Morris.
"That was an amazing race", said Hill at the conclusion, "Thanks to Mike (Flounders -- Tollbar boss) for giving me a great car, it worked really well. I was a bit lucky with Tom (Ingram) dropping back but we had the pace to win. Sarah and David both raced well and deserve to be on the podium."
Sarah Moore, grabbing her first rostrum of the year, added: "It's been a long time, it's good to be back on the podium. As soon as I started pressuring Seb (Morris) I thought he might make a mistake and if he did I'd have a podium. I'm really happy."
Round 18 was a more tense affair for Hill and Ingram with the pair split by just 0.3 seconds at the chequered flag. Ingram led away from pole at the start with Morris holding second, Bonham tucking into third ahead of Sarah Moore, David Moore fifth and Hill up to sixth from eighth on the grid.
Hill's progress continued on lap two, moving into the top four, and he then grabbed third off Bonham at McLeans as he stormed towards the front. The top four then broke clear on lap three but into Redgate, Hill usurped Morris for second place. Just a lap later, he struck at the same corner to grab the lead from Ingram.
On lap six Ingram did slip behind his team-mate and Bonham after being forced wide at the exit of Redgate but he climbed back into second place within a lap and a half prior to the deployment of the Safety Car due to Brad Bailey's stricken car in the gravel at the Old Hairpin.
Two racing laps remained at the re-start but for Bonham all of his hard work was undone when he ran wide at Redgate out of fourth place. Tom Howard assumed the position but then he went off at McLeans while being challenged by Richardson -- the latter scything her way through the order from 16th, and last, on the grid after problems in qualifying to underline her true pace.
In the end, Hill just edged Ingram for the victory with Morris taking his first career car racing podium ahead of Richardson, Sarah Moore and David Moore. Finlay Ractliffe took a fine seventh ahead of Howard, Patrick McClughan and Foster. McClughan's result, in particular, was impressive as he is one of the least experienced drivers and, actually, several months younger than Morris.
Commenting on his maiden podium, Morris said: "I'm really pleased, I'm glad my first podium has finally come. We missed out in the first race with a small mistake but everything went to plan in race two. We did have a small problem with the steering rack, so dropped back a bit, but kept the place so I'm really happy."
Brands Hatch Indy Circuit in Kent will host the final two rounds of the Ginetta Junior Championship three weeks from now over the weekend 9th/10th October.
-source: ginetta cars
G50: Series Donington Saturday report
GJr: Tom Ingram Donington event summary