James Hedley claimed the 2019 Ginetta Junior championship in style with victory in the opening race of the weekend at Brands Hatch.
The Elite Motorsport driver put in a near-faultless drive from pole to take win number seven of the season and build an unsurmountable lead over Zak O’Sullivan.
O’Sullivan spent the race battling with Will Martin and Lorcan Hanafin for fourth, eventually coming home P5, but it wasn’t enough to keep the championship alive.
Ethan Brooks, who qualified second, made a strong start in the wet conditions, pulling alongside Hedley on approach to the first corner. Hedley held onto the position, but almost lost control of the car after dipping a wheel onto the kerbs at Paddock Hill Bend. The Ginetta started to spin but Hedley regained control and kept the car ahead of the rest of the field.
Further back, Daniel Gale and Haytham Qarajouli weren’t as lucky. Both span into the gravel, before Casper Stevenson and Joel Pearson came together later on the lap, bringing out the safety car.
James Taylor, who had snatched second from Brooks on the opening lap, challenged Hedley on the restart, but the championship leader stayed in control of the race.
Taylor kept the pressure on his team-mate, but Hedley gave him no opportunity to make a move.
In the closing stages of the race, the biggest danger to Hedley’s race came when Ben Kasperczak, who has spun twice early in the race, span again infront of the lead battle. Both drivers were able to avoid and Hedley came home 0.718s ahead of his team-mate.
Martin claimed third from Brooks on the final lap, but the Scholarship winner stayed ahead of O’Sullivan to take his first rookie win.
Hanafin finished sixth, ahead of Gus Burton, who climbed up from the back of the grid after an off in qualifying meant he couldn’t set a competitive laptime.
Ethan Hawkey, Josh Rattican, and Ben O’Hare completed the top 10.
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|1||James Hedley||67||Elite Motorsport||16m19.795s (7 Laps)|
|2||James Taylor||66||Richardson Racing||+0.718s|
|3||Will Martin||10||Richardson Racing||+1.774s|
|4||Ethan Brooks||86||Total Control Racing||+2.100s|
|5||Zak O’Sullivan||51||R Racing||+2.737s|
|6||Lorcan Hanafin||23||Douglas Motorsport||+5.896s|
|7||Gus Burton||57||Douglas Motorsport||+10.649s|
|8||Ethan Hawkey||40||Richardson Racing||+11.077s|
|9||Josh Rattican||21||R Racing||+13.535s|
|10||Ben O’Hare||95||Premiership Academy||+15.337s|
|11||Aston Millar||70||R Racing||+18.515s|
|12||Bailey Vosin||22||Douglas Motorsport||+22.504s|
|13||Nat Hodgkiss||59||Race Car Consultants||+39.938s|
|14||Frankie Taylor||32||Team HARD||+39.991s|
|15||Molly Dodd||47||Premiership Academy||+40.505s|
|16||Freddie Tomlinson||62||Douglas Motorsport||+44.682s|
|17||Suleiman Zanfari||52||Elite Motorsport||+52.886s|
|18||Zak Taylor||23||Alastair Rushforth Motorsport||+1 Lap|
|DNF||Ben Kasperczak||35||BK Racing||+2 Laps|
|DNF||Joel Pearson||29||R Racing||+3 Laps|
|DNF||Dan Gale||68||Total Control Racing||+7 Laps|
|DNF||Haytham Qarajouli||75||Total Control Racing||+7 Laps|
|DNF||Casper Stevenson||25||Richardson Racing||+7 Laps|