2019 Review: Premiership Academy Racing

Premiership Academy Racing had a rocky 2019. There were changes both behind the scenes and on the grid, and its drivers were most often outside the top 10.

But Premiership had some strong races and, overall, showed an improvement from its maiden season in 2018.

The team started the year with four drivers – Ben O’Hare, Molly Dodd, Harry Dyson, and Charlie McLeod – but it would not last.

After two rounds, in which he took a best finish of P12, McLeod switched to In2Racing for the first Thruxton meeting, before dropping out of the championship entirely.

Dyson was next to leave. 2019 would be his fourth year in the championship, though he was yet to complete a full campaign. He started strong, with two top 10 finishes at Brands Hatch and another at Donington Park, but he couldn’t finish higher than sixth.

Dyson dropped out of the championship after Croft with only 60 points under his belt. The 17-year-old’s performance was strong compared to his team-mates at the time, his experience no doubt helping, but he couldn’t match the results of earlier seasons and wouldn’t finish higher than sixth.

Ben O’Hare and Molly Dodd completed the full season.

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O’Hare, in his second year in the championship, was the stronger of the two, finishing 15th overall. In the opening rounds, he picked up a handful of positions just outside the top 10, but two retirements at Donington knocked him down the championship order.

A series of difficult races followed in which O’Hare spent most of the time at the tail end of the field but, after the winter break, there was a clear change in pace at the team. Premiership Academy commenced a behind-the-scenes reshuffle, coming back fresh for the second Thruxton round of the championship.

It was at Thruxton that O’Hare picked up the team’s best result of the season. He finished fifth in the opening race before a P12 in race three, but was caught out in a crash in race two.

O’Hare wouldn’t match the P5 again, but his results became more consistent in the second half of the year. After Thruxton, he only finished lower than 15th once – twice including a retirement at Brands Hatch.

The late resurgence put him back in the fight of the second half of the midfield and ahead of privateer Ben Kasperczak.

In her maiden season in the championship, Molly Dodd struggled to move forward most of the time. Throughout the first half of the year, she finished consistently at the back of the order, with a best result of 16th before the summer break. But, like O’Hare, Dodd saw improvements in the second half of the season.

It was a slow improvement, but she was consistently finishing inside the top 17 and took a best finish of 15th.

While her results alone don’t appear impressive, 2019 was an important learning year for Dodd and the most important factor of her season was track-time. Dodd only suffered two retirements, a feat only bested by two other full-time drivers (the two at the top of the championship standings). She also managed to finish the season without taking any penalty points. There is plenty of room for growth, but her clean season laid a secure foundation.

Image credit: Caroline Rhea

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