Results improve for Dronfield junior sports car team
Steadily the results are starting to happen for Dronfield's JHR Developments' Simpson Race Products Ginetta Junior Championship team of seven cars.
Croft circuit’s first corner, Clervaux chicane, always adds an element of unpredictability to a motor race.
This is just what Sebastian Perez found in round 10 where Clervaux mayhem on the opening lap saw his 4th-place qualifying spot turned into 18th place at the end of lap 1, and that is how he finished.
Better luck for teammate Seb Priaulx, who started from 5th, finishing 2nd the 14 year-old top Rookie.
In his debut race, an impressive result from Ollie Cauldwell who finished 5th from grid slot 8 - taking a debut rookie podium in 2nd spot - having only turned 14 years-old (the legal age to compete in the Junior Championship) four days prior.
While Cameron Roberts set the fastest lap, making 5 places at the start, he finished a place higher in 6th.
Qualifying in 2nd - top rookie – for Round 11 Priaulx dropped a place in both categories at the start, to finish 3rd, and 2nd-placed rookie.
Cauldwell came down to earth starting 5th, 2nd-placed rookie, he was delayed by the Clervaux incident, dropping to 16th place at the flag.
Geri Nicosia from 12th was locked in an eight car fight over 5th place, settling for a 7th-place finish.
Round 12 saw Priaulx’s 2nd-place qualifying wasted when four front-runners fell foul of Clervaux on the opening lap, and he finished 11th.
Nicosia, starting 7th had a race-long dice over 3rd place, but had to settle for 4th at the flag.
While Roberts benefitted from the Clervaux mayhem, qualified 20th, he made 12 places on the opening lap for a 5th place result.
Kyle Hornby was on fine form at the next meeting, Snetterton, as he picked up five positions on round 13’s opening lap to an eventual 6th position – his best result of 2016 so far - and the lead in a JHR three-car train.
Perez finished one place behind in 7th, ahead of Nicosia in 8th.
Hornby was on form again in round 14, looking particularly ‘handy’ in 4th place on lap 1, a trip across the grass at the chicane saw him briefly in 2nd-place. He eventually got to the front of a four-car battle over 5th-place.
Another 8th-place for Nicosia reinforced his position as JHR’s top scorer in the series, especially when the remainder of the team had a meeting to forget.
The Knockhill weekend was one of firsts for the JHR team as Priaulx celebrated his maiden pole position, with Perez and Nicosia claiming their first Ginetta Junior Championship wins.
A pair of ‘Sebs’ were on the front row for round 15 after Priaulx topped qualifying over his JHR Developments teammate, Perez.
A perfect start for Perez saw him sprint into the lead, the margin growing with every passing lap, and he brought his Ginetta G40 home to take his first ever win with an impressive 4.5s margin to the chasing pack.
Behind, Priaulx finished 3rd, battling with championship-leader Stuart Middleton, while Nicosia lost out in a drag race to the line in the fight for 5th, by just 0.002 seconds.
Perez and Middleton started side-by-side in round 16 but they were judged to have made ‘jump starts’ and handed time sapping ‘pits drive-through’ penalties – dropping them well down the order.
Priaulx – who made a poor start dropping down to 6th –recovered to 3rd by the halfway point and joined a three-way fight for the win.
As the other two squabbled, it allowed Priaulx to sweep into the lead, whilst Nicosia followed him through to claim 2nd-place on the road.
However, after the race there were a number of changes: Priaulx was handed a 30 second time penalty for a false start – dropping him to 13th-place in the amended result.
Cruelly, the Judges of Fact report that saw a false start penalty applied to Perez during the race was subsequently found to be incorrect, but too late to help him…
So the amended result saw Nicosia take the victory from two of his teammates suffering time penalties.
The final of Knockhill’s 3 races, round 17, had Nicosia take his podium-double by starting from, and dicing in 5th-place for most of the race.
A deft move up the inside at the hairpin made 3rd-place and another podium was his with three laps to go, consolidating his championship 6th-place.
“Coming away from the weekend with a win and another podium makes the whole long week the team has spent up here worthwhile. We have been testing relentlessly to finally get the squad some decent results – the effort is going in by JHR, with the hard work of the lads paying off, we just need a break…”
“It’s been great, but I spent Saturday night not knowing I’d won – you don’t like to win from your teammate’s jumpstart, but a wins a win and I’ll take it!”, grinned the 17 year-old.
Behind him Perez, running in 6th was taken out by the car Nicosia had just overtaken, and was trying too hard to defend, and leaving the hapless Chesterfield racer with nowhere to go…
With his bonnet working loose in the impact, he crossed the finishing line obscured by smoke from the fibreglass bodywork dragging on floor, taking the chequered flag in 11th-place.
Taking advantage of Perez’s misfortune for a top-10 finish, young Caldwell pounced on the run up to the chequered flag, to make it home in rookie 3rd-place.
While very happy the team came away with two wins and a 3rd-place, JHR team boss Steven Hunter did feel that Seb Perez had been cheated out of a bumper result at Knockhill.
“Perez should have won everything!”, Hunter recounted, “The Steward’s error ruined his weekend with a very harsh penalty especially for a junior championship: it would have been only a 10 second penalty in any other championship, where we would have raced-on and argued the case afterwards!” Summing up, “It ruined the race - round 16 – and also with a lowly start to round 17 too.”