Donington Park 18/19 April 2015 - Ginetta Junior

Ginetta Junior:
Round 2 – Donington Park, scene of a double win for Geri last year with the Fiesta Juniors so we were hopeful of a better showing. However, such hope was tempered by the Thursday test session where Geri finished well down the order.

Free Practice:
The morning practice session could have gone better, Geri couldn’t get enough speed, and although some of it could be blamed on the lack of a towing partner, it would not account for all the difference. Once again we were left wondering how our engine was stacking up. Geri put in 6 laps, the 7th looked more promising with his fastest sectors in both 1 and 2, but then he braked too late into the chicane and got all sideways coming out, an attempt to catch ended with the car striking the tyre wall on the outside of the home straight and Geri came into the pits so the damage could be surveyed.

It was a big enough hit, although the car still looked Ginetta shaped, the newly fitted (spare) bonnet had front corner damage, the whole driver side of the car would take some cleaning up. The rear screen had cracked and would be replaced, same with the rear spoiler which was missing about 3 inches. Further investigation showed the radiator subframe was out of shape and the team were kept busy repairing the damage.


All pictures on this page courtesy Jakob Ebrey

Qualifying:
Excellent work from Elite Motorsport saw the car looking smart again by afternoon qualifying. But a smart car was still not quick enough, Geri admitting he was losing time at the chicane as he wasn’t confident there, that worry underlined by a full 360 degree spin on the grass existing the chicane early in the session, this time thankfully without damage as Geri just let the car go round rather than risk overcorrecting.

A final qualifying position of 16th, achieved on Geri’s penultimate lap was less than we had hoped for, but the gap back from pole was just 0.834. which would have been good enough for 4th last year in the Fiesta Juniors, again underlining how much more competitive the Ginetta Junior series is.

Race 1:
16th on the grid late in the afternoon, a place gained off the start line was lost at Redgate as Geri stayed on the inside and joined the queue to go round. The pack headed down Craners all nose to tail, but three cars went off at McLeans. Geri lost position to Cameron Roberts while avoiding hitting the car in front of him, but crossed the line in 13th place. Lap 2 and Stacey and Chapman got beached in the gravel at Old Hairpin – Chapman would get back out and rejoin way down the field. Roberts took a wide trip across the gravel but still came back on in front of Geri. Two more places gained, Geri now up to 11th.

Lap 3 and the drivers were less than impressed to come into Old Hairpin staring directly at the JCB sent to recover Stacey’s car, the thought of running in to that…… A bad Redgate had allowed the pack, and more specifically Roberts as the car directly in front, to pull out a gap back to Geri who was now having to defend from cars directly behind. Geri lost 1.5 seconds that lap to Roberts, the gap now 2.5. Mailer dived through inside at Old Hairpin, Geri tried to regain the place at McLeans but Mailer defended well. Going into the chicane Geri took a defensive tight line and was outdragged by Kyle Hornby on the way out – back down to 13th.

Geri chased Hornby round for the lap, but a recovering Floersch came storming past Geri on the way into the chicane, but Day had gone off leaving Geri still in 13th place after 5 laps. Hornby and Floersch got past Mailer the following lap, Geri tried to follow Floersch through at Coppice but couldn’t make the move happen, leaving Geri chasing Mailer in an effort to regain 12th place, Geri being fractionally faster over the next three laps as he brought the gap down to 3/10ths. Geri was quicker on the uphill run from Old Hairpin and climbing all over Mailer through McLeans and Coppice lap after lap, but even with a tow down to the chicane, Mailer was able to stay in front.

Lap 9, a good run through Redgate sees Geri right on Mailer’s bumper, and Mailer unable to defend as Geri runs inside at Old Hairpin to take 12th place, but with a big gap forwards as Hornby is 4 seconds up the road. Chapentier has caught up behind Geri and now Geri is having to defend from the Frenchman as he also passes Mailer. A lap later, Chapman has joined in and there are now three cars separated by 3/10ths sitting ¾ second behind Geri.

Geri manages to hold off the challenge from behind, right on the line Chapman comes alongside but Geri crosses the line a little over a tenth ahead. Roberts span at Redgate on the final lap so Geri finished in 11th place, a gain of 5 places from his starting position.

At the end of the race we had a team meeting, the upshot was that rather than wait until after the weekend to put in a new engine, we should do it now. One trip over to the Ginetta spares truck later, and we had a brand new crate engine ready to fit in. The team worked into the early hours, we managed to borrow an engine crane just in time, and by 1am the new engine was in, up and running. We didn’t know how tight a brand new engine might be, the proof would be in the race on Sunday after lunch.

Race 2:

Now starting from 11th and with Geri having gained places in all three races so far, we were hopeful of a top ten result. A better start saw Geri manage to hold off the car outside him on the grid (Mailer after Chapman had been given a time penalty for race 1) and hold onto his 11th position, tucked in behind Middleton.

Lap two, with Caroline charging from the back tried to go round the outside of Geri at McLeans but Geri was having none of it and defended well. At the end of the lap the positions remained the same, Geri just 2/10ths behind Middleton, and 1/10th ahead of Caroline.

Lap 3, coming into Redgate still following the pack, Geri dives down the inside of Middleton and looks to overtake him. Caroline is right behind him and as Geri runs outwards at Redgate, so Caroline eases inside so the cars are now three abreast on the run to Hollywood. Caroline has more speed, and Mailer is not his bumper following through. As they go down Craners, Caroline and Mailer have passed, Middleton is still side by side with Geri, but on the outside so Geri takes the line into Old Hairpin and finally passes Middleton – one place gained at the cost of two lost.

It was all very crowded going into McLeans, Caroline went inside Hornby and Tregurtha, Geri went inside Mailer, to get back into 11th place, but less than 1/10 ahead of Middleton. A tap from behind into Redgate tried to unsettle Geri, going down Craners towards Old Hairpin, Middleton hit Geri from behind at over 100mph before the braking zone, sending Geri sideways across the infield while he attempted to catch the car. Middleton ended up outside the track going across the gravel and back out again, Geri finally landed on the track past the apex of Old Hairpin, but despite having slammed down through the gears he had lost speed and also lost eight places due to this incident, and Wallace passed Geri on the run up to McLeans – back to 20th. After the race the clerk deemed Middleton at fault and gave him a verbal warning, but it doesn’t help us regain the lost places.

Geri was right back on Wallace coming out of Redgate, tried to take him through Old Hairpin but the door was shut. Coming out of the chicane on the following lap, Geri had to swerve round Perez who was parked sideways across the right side of the track. Geri got the better run to Redgate and went inside Wallace, easing him to the outside of the track. Wallace kept his foot in and the two were side by side all through Craners before the inside line at Old Hairpin was enough for Geri to take the place and move back to 18th. The pack in front were holding each other up and Geri came up behind them by the end of the lap (6).

Gaining fast, Geri launched an ambitious move inside Green into Redgate, but had to go in too tight. Minor contact with Green was enough for Geri to be spun round losing 5 more places – so back to 22nd with just under three laps to go and 3 seconds behind 21st. A massive slide through McLeans was an indication of the red mist in Geri’s car – with 2 laps to go he was still 1.9 behind 21st place Perez. Perez passed Hawkey into Redgate, with clean air and no-one to defend from Geri would now post his 2 fastest laps of the weekend as he chased down Hawkey, finally catching her and passing before reaching Old Hairpin on the last lap.

Geri finally finished in 21st place, out of the points and 10 places behind where he started, he had gained 11 places in his first 3 races but this put us back to almost level. Lessons have been learned, we need to improve our speed in qualifying to get a better race 1 grid position. And we need to ensure the new engine is "run in" as soon as possible so we can get the best out of it. To that end, we will be testing at Oulton Park on 28th April.

Full details from TSL for the race weekend can be seen here.

Next race meeting is Thruxton in three weeks

Check out the Ginetta Junior points standings.

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