Tom Gamble and Seb Priaulx took a win each in the Simpson Race Products Ginetta Junior Championship at Thruxton this weekend (06 / 07 May 2017). The result saw Gamble maintain his position at the head of the Junior standings, whilst Priaulx leapfrogs from fifth to third overall after a strong performance in Hampshire.
The drivers were treated to one free practice and one qualifying session on Saturday. Priaulx laid down the gauntlet in both sessions, and when it came to qualifying he was the man to beat for the entirety. Dan Harper – who took a clean sweep of Rookie wins here last season – was second in both outings, ending the session 0.375s shy of the pole man.
Meanwhile Harry Dyson, who has enjoyed an incredible debut in the championship thus far, qualified third overall after setting a time just 0.021s short of Harpers. Rounding out the top five were Tom Gamble and Kiern Jewiss, whilst Ginetta Junior Scholar Adam Smalley came third in the rookie class in his TJ Filters-backed G40.
The first race didn’t fail to impress the crowds who packed around the 2.4 mile circuit. In typical Junior style, it was a frenetic encounter with lead changes on almost every one of the 12 lap race. Starting from pole position, Priaulx led off the line with Gamble and Harper following him down the road.
Behind, it was action stations as a six car fight for fourth developed between Dyson, King, Wood, Jewis, Smalley and Grady. Gamble momentarily took the lead, but a combination of him running wide at Church and Priaulx and Harper holding each other up allowed King to sweep into the lead, setting a new lap record to boot.
As the race approached the mid-point, Priaulx begun to reel in King and on lap six, he made his move. Reclaiming the lead, Priaulx took Harper through with him moving the Douglas Motorsport driver into third. Soon it became a seven car train for the win.
With two laps to go, Priaulx was hit with a track limits penalty, dropping him to fifth on corrected times. On the road, Harper made a move to take the lead on track whilst Gamble mounted a last minute charge past the two rivals to move into second. As the flag came out however, Harper was also given a time penalty, dropping him to fourth and handing the win to an unsuspecting Gamble, with rookie racer Dyson and former leader King joining him on the rostrum. In the rookie class, clean and consistent racing for Smalley and Canning saw the pair complete the rookie podium.
The final outing of the weekend was cut one lap short following a lengthy red flag in an earlier session. With the action limited to 20 minutes, it was another exciting race from the Ginetta Juniors. At the end of the opening lap, Priaulx was in the lead with King having passed Gamble for second. As King tried to slip into the lead, Gamble seized an opportunity and passed the pair to move into the top spot. Gamble now led from Priaulx, Dyson, Smalley and King, who slipped to fifth.
Up front, JHR Developments teammates Gamble and Priaulx worked together to build a comfortable gap before they started to fight for the lead. Behind, there were no less than nine cars fighting for third overall. Harper led the pack from King, Jewiss, Smalley, Wood, Grady and Collard after a spin for Dyson at the final chicane dropped him from the battle.
Smalley took the lead of the rookies and was in a dominant position, showing the same pace he displayed en route to winning the Ginetta Junior Scholarship. He stuck with the pack until too much speed into Church sent him off line and down the order, losing what was an almost certain rookie podium. Smalley’s demise put Jewiss in the lead of the rookie class and fourth overall. He was joined on the rookie podium by Tom Canning and Matt Luff.
The man of the moment was undoubtedly Harper. Having started from P16, he was up to 10th by the end of lap one and went on to set the fastest lap of the race on his way to the podium battle. He joined the nine-car fight for the final spot on the rostrum by lap five, taking the position with just five minutes left to run and remaining there to the flag.
The juniors now have a short two week break until they are back in action at Oulton Park on May 20 / 21. Provisional results and standings can be found by clicking here.