JHR Developments’ two Chesterfield race-aces had vastly differing fortunes in the support races for the BTCC at Oulton Park.
While Sennan Fielding branded his F4 weekend as ‘one to forget’, Seb Perez almost took his debut Ginetta Junior podium for the Dronfield-based team.
Arriving at the circuit leading the British F4 championship albeit by a slender margin, Fielding was not in the best of spirits, “We tried a few things in qualifying but things were no better”.
He did not have much to report after round 10 where he started from 14 and finished in 10th place: “A quiet race with an OK start and I stayed where I ended up”, his glum face adding an extra emphasis. “It is going to be a hard weekend”.
A 10th placed start to round 11 saw him finish the race one place higher. Making four places from his 12th place start, Fielding took the flag in 8th place in round 12.
“There have been a few issues with the car - we have been off the pace all weekend, but JHR does not give up so we are sure to fight back”. Trying to raise a spirit of optimism he concluded, “I just need to stay consistent – everyone has their ups and downs, and it’s so close up at the front of points table, hard work and effort pays off!”
His miserable two days in Cheshire earned Fielding just 7 points, dropping him 42 points down from the lead to 4th in championship.
Subsequently, when the team examined Fielding’s car they discovered that the turbo was on the point of failing and giving a reduced power output, putting the 19 year-old at a disadvantage on the track…
Teammate Billy Monger had slightly better luck, with a 6th place finish in round 11, but only 9th in round 10 and ending up 13th in round 12.
Things were much brighter in JHR’s Simpson Race Products Ginetta Junior Championship squad, where for Round 8 the two Sebs, Priaulx and Perez lined up in grid slots 2 and 3 respectively.
Both of them made good starts: Priaulx trying to overtake pole-position Will Tregurtha at the first corner for the lead, but was elbowed out on to the grass causing him to plummet down the order taking the flag in 15th.
Benefitting from the clash, Perez took over the lead, but a mistake later in the lap allowed Tregurtha back through to the lead and get away.
Perez spent the race locked in a battle with Stuart Middleton over the final podium place, taking the position repeatedly but never quite able to hang on to it, and finished in 4th.
Geri Nicosia enjoyed himself fighting his way from grid 10th to end the race in 5th place, “A good race – hard work – but I got five places on a track you cannot overtake on: I loved it! He grinned, “I thought I may have got 3rd – I was waiting for the two in front - Perez and Middleton - to come together, but they were too well behaved…”
Kyle Hornby started in 7th and fell back mid-race to 8th but recovered 7th before the end of the race despite a loose bonnet.
Hornby also played a pivotal role in Round 9, when on lap 4 he spun at the slow Island hairpin and Daniel Harper could not avoid a glancing blow to the rotating Hornby’s left flank.
The impact to Harper’s car damaged an oil line that initially smoked heavily before causing the car to catch fire as he limped to the pits.
His car was ablaze sufficiently to cause the race to be neutralised with a safety car intervention for the final three laps, as the marshals tackled extinguishing it.
A maiden podium finish had looked likely for Perez in Round 9 as he was starting from grid slot 4, especially when he moved up to 3rd place on the opening lap only to be tapped into a spin unfortunately, recovering he re-joined at the back of the field.
Nicosia had the best result in 6th place even though he started from 5th, with Cameron Roberts the next best in 11th.
In the championship table Nicosia, in 6th place, is the highest placed JHR driver, with Roberts next in 7th, while Priaulx in 10th place.