Seb Priaulx and Tom Gamble shared the Simpson Race Products Ginetta Junior Championship wins at Croft Circuit this weekend (10 / 11 June 2017), with Gamble extending his title advantage by a huge 52 points as the teenage racers head into the summer break.
Priaulx was once again the man of the moment in what was a very wet qualifying session. He set the bar from the outset and only went quicker. He took pole position with a 1:48.313s, over a second quicker than any other driver. Kiern Jewiss continued to impress in his rookie season as he lined up second overall, just ahead of Gamble, Dan Harper and Harry Dyson, who completed the top five.
The rain showed no sign of easing off for the first race of the day. It did nothing to dampen Priaulx’s mood, as a textbook start saw him dominate the race from lights-to-flag, with not a single challenge from behind, and the fastest lap of the race to boot.
Jewiss held onto second off the line. Despite a few early challenges from Gamble in third, the Rookie racer soon broke the tow and set off down the road. This left Gamble in the final podium spot with Harry Dyson and Tom Wood nipping at his heels.
A pair of spins courtesy of the wet weather dropped Dyson – who was in fourth - out of the challenge after the opening few laps. Wood nipped through to fourth with Collard inheriting fifth. The trio continued to squabble over the final podium position right until the flag, with Wood snatching third at the Jim Clark Esses on the final lap.
Collard kept fifth – his best result of the season – whilst Harry King finished up sixth, just ahead of Daniel Harper who had lots of making up to do following a five place grid penalty carried over from Oulton Park. Harper’s scholarship predecessor Adam Smalley ended up eighth after a great battle with Charlie Digby. A recovering Dyson rounded out the top 10.
Race two was run in slightly drier conditions as the rain ceased and the sun started to emerge. Once again, Priaulx was the leader off the line with Harper tucking in in second – as the grid is based on second fastest qualifying times - just ahead of Jewiss, Gamble and Dyson.
Great starts too for Matt Luff – who went from tenth to seventh – Jenson Dineen and Keaton Samra, who picked up five spots apiece on the opening tour. The man of the moment though was Tom Wood, who picked up a massive six places on the opening lap, and kept on going.
Another two spots were his on the next lap, and by the mid-point of the race, he was challenging for a spot on the podium. Harper - who was in second - fell down the order and was soon battling hard with his race one rival Dyson. The pair crossed the line side-by-side at the end of lap three but it was Dyson who kept his nose in front. Wood, sensing the action made his move and took fifth from Harper as the race neared its conclusion. Try as he might to pick off Dyson for fourth, the HHC Motorsport settled for fifth at the flag.
Priaulx who took his fourth win in a row, whilst Jewiss took another second place and rookie win. Gamble crossed the line third, just ahead of Gamble and Dyson. With Jewiss taking the rookie cup honours, Dyson’s fourth was enough to give him second in the rookie cup. Smalley, who finished overall seventh after a long battle with Harper and Collard ended the race third in the rookies.
In the final race of the weekend, Priaulx once again held his own at the start, streaking away into the lead. This time though, his advantage didn’t last long as twice runner-up Jewiss was right on his tail over the opening lap. Gamble was third as Smalley – behind - led the rest of pack.
A short safety car period to recover a stricken Johnson from Clervaux saw the field bunched back up once again, but not before Gamble made his way around Jewiss for second. Wood was up to fourth, having passed Smalley with King, Collard, Grady, Luff and Browning rounding out the top 10.
The action got back underway after just one lap under caution and a mad dash to the flag got underway. Gamble got a storming run into Tower and snatched the lead, pulling Jewiss through with him, into second and demoting Priaulx down to third.
As the pack headed into the hairpin for the final time, there were no less than six cars locked in a drag race to the line, but it was Gamble who took the win, just keeping Jewiss at bay. Priaulx settled for third after working hard to defend from Wood in fourth. Smalley ended the session fifth overall and second in the Rookie class, whilst joining the TJ-Filters backed driver on the Rookie rostrum was his JHR Developments teammate, Matt Luff.
As the drivers head into the mid-season break, Gamble sits atop the points table, with both Wood and Jewiss having leapfrogged Harper to move into second and third respectively. The pair is split by just two points, setting the stage for some great racing at Snetterton next time out. Smalley sits second in the Rookie Cup, with Ruben Del Sarte third.
For provisional points and standings,click here.