Thruxton 9/10 May 2015 - Ginetta Junior

Ginetta Junior:
Thruxton – Round 3 of the Kickstart Ginetta Junior Championship, and a Kickstart was exactly what we needed after the trials and tribulations of Donington Park. This is the fastest circuit we visit where even the Ginetta Junior cars are averaging more than 90mph across the lap with just two braking points on the entire 2.4 mile lap. There was a change here, for all the other rounds there is a Friday test day prior to the race weekend, but here the test day was held back in April. So the first issue would be remembering the way round the circuit, and remembering how to drive the car!

The format of the weekend also differed in that both races would be held on the Sunday, and both would be shown live on ITV4.

Free Practice:
We sent Geri out on a set up similar to the test day back in April, but he wasn’t happy with the handling at all, completing just one lap before coming back into the pits for changes. He then went out and steadily improved, but disappointingly finished the session back in 18th place and 2.3 seconds off the front. Geri didn’t think he drove well and there was time to come later in the day.

Geri went out in qualifying ready to do better – in fact he was on pole after the first lap and had already taken 1.1 seconds off his free practice time. A tow round Thruxton is important, he latched onto one of the slower cars but tripped over him coming into the chicane on lap 7, but finally improved his first lap time. The final lap of qualifying looked hopeful, 4 of the quicker drivers were a few car lengths in front of him as he came through the chicane ready to start the final lap. Qualifying was all topsy-turvy with a number of drivers in far different positions that might be expected, so surely the four in front would go for a final fast one and Geri would get a big tow?

Alas not, in turn they seemed to back off and destroyed any chance Geri had – but at least we had moved up to 13th, and with Caroline only 12th and Monger in 10th, we were in good company even if not where we really wanted to be. The importance of the tow could be seen from the sector speeds, on his best lap with a single car tow, Geri was 3mph faster than any other lap.

Race 1:
So Geri lined up on the grid with Kyle Hornby alongside, Stacey and Caroline on the row ahead, with the stagger he could see directly forwards to Chapman on the 5th row. Stacey got a flyer and while Geri was following Caroline into the start of the complex, Hadfield had come from behind Hornby and was running alongside Geri with the inside line to the left hander. Geri held his own, taking to the grass but a bang into Caroline cost him pace and Hadfield was able to pass at the second attempt.

All pictures on this page courtesy Jakob Ebrey

The pack closed up into the chicane but Geri ended the first lap in 14th place, half a second behind Hadfield. Running out of Church on lap two, Lewis Brown attempted to take the long way round, and they arrived at the chicane side by side, but with Geri on the inside, minor contact with Brown saw the latter spin and then get hit hard by Perez. The safety car was brought out, Geri now a second adrift of Hadfield but with the chance for the pack to close back up.

Round the back of the circuit, just as the yellow flags came out for the safety car, Hornby and Green overtook Geri while Proctor had spun out earlier on lap 3 - Geri now down to 15th, although Green would be later given a penalty for the move. Hornby was judged to have been past (alongside) Geri before the flags were reached.

Lap 7 and we were back to green. Geri arrived at the complex to see Dave Wooder pointing the wrong way, Matthiesen off to the left (Wooder had run into Matthiesen) and Hornby had been slowed taking avoiding action. Geri gained two places immediately but Hornby managed to keep alongside Geri and on the inside all the way down the back of the circuit to the chicane where he finally repassed. Esmee Hawkey had caught up and sat right on Hornby's bumper, Geri was unable to stop her following Hornby passed him, but she came in to the chicane too hot and spun right in front of Geri. Geri was now back to 13th, but a second behind Hornby.

Next time roun at the complex, Geri moved up to 12th as he found Cameron Roberts pointing the wrong way on the infield. Later in the lap Geri had to go defensive as the recovering Matthiesen caught up and tried to go round the outside, just as Brown had earlier in the race - Geri had the line into the chicane but Matthiesen got better drive and passed on the inside just after they started the final lap - still in 13th.

Another recovering driver, Proctor, came through on the inside into the complex, Geri got better drive out and closed right up again. He then tried to go round the outside at Church but a side to side bump put paid to that idea, and Geri had to pull out of the move. The drama still wasn't over, coming into the chicane, Stacey was sideways and just pulled onto the track as Geri arrived. There was a drag race to the line which Stacey won by just 3/100ths - Geri finished 14th. After the race, Green was penalised 5 seconds for overtaking Geri under yellows, this dropped him from 8th to 14th, promoting Geri back to 13th, his starting position.

Race 2:
Having fought to hold our own in race 1, we were hopeful of a better result in race 2. A decent start saw Geri staying with a number of cars through Allard, as they turned left into the Complex, there was a gap on the outside and Geri went for it, making a move on Stacey. Unfortunately just as he went through, Chapman was sideways pushing Matthieson directly into Geri’s path. With the o/s front wheel on the grass there was no chance of Geri stopping and he hit Matthieson hard enough to launch the Danish driver’s car a couple of feet into the air. Round the first part of the complex, Tregurtha had spun and was hit by the unsighted Hadfield, Geri somehow getting through without further damage.

But on the run down to Noble, it became evident Geri’s car had damage, the left side headlamp flew over the top of the car, the wind was now able to lift the bonnet all round the back of the circuit and Geri was driving blind all the way from exiting the Complex to braking for the chicane.SOme cars made it past Geri but he did manage to hold off Chapman as they approached the chicane, coming out the safety car had already been deployed and Geri was actually up to 11th despite three cars passing him round the back of the circuit while he was driving blind.

At safety car speeds, Geri's bonnet was only lifting a few mms so wasn't an issue, but as soon as the cars got back up to speed, it would flap open again. Two laps under the safety car and we were off again. At racing speed the bonnet was lifting going into the complex, cues lots of smoke as Geri locked up going in when he realised where he was! A gaggle of cars were running three abreast in front of him at Noble, as Chapman finally got passed Geri going into Goodwood where Geri had intermittent vision, and was gaining on Green and Roberts before the bonnet came up again at Church. Stacey came round the outside, very slowly gaining on Geri back with intermittent vision, but as they approached the chicane, Geri couldn't see again and had to concede the position. Coming to the start/finish line, the safety car was out again as hawkey had gone flying off at the complex, Geri was back down to 13th again.

Lap 6 and back to green, the bonnet was lifting more and more now, going through Allard Geru was unable to see, then OK through the right-left-right of the complex, at which point the bonnet would lift back into his vision again and remain open from Seagrave to the braking point for the chicane. Baliley came into view through the left side window just before the chicane, his brake lights gave Geri a clue it was time to brake, but another place lost, now 14th.

Perex came through on the inside entering the complex on lap 7, with no vision there Geri was a sitting duck, but coming out of Noble, Wooder was driving slowly along the inside of the track, so Geri remained in 14th place. Coming up to the chicane and Tregurtha tried to make a move on Geri, but Geri was able to defend, only to lose the place twenty seconds later when he arrived at the complex with no vision once again. Geri got back alongside at Noble but had to back out when he couldn't see anything again.

Again coming into the chicane, with no visibility and the extra drag caused by a bonnet flapping open, with the headlamp missing the air went through the aperture, lifting the bonnet as it escaped at the windscreen, the bonnet pins both broken since the first corner incident, Geri was caught and passed again, this time by Alex Day. Frank Bird followed through after the chicane, but again Geri was right back on Bird's bumper out of the complex. Bird lit up his brake lights at Noble, Geri didn't need an invitation and regained the place just as the bonnet lifted again.

Geri managed to hold position till the end of the lap when the flag came out. 15th place was disappointing, but a great effort under the circumstances. But Geri's day would go from bad to worse, after the race Geri was adjudged to be at fault for the incident with Matthiesen and docked 6 championship points. We are down to 14th in the championship and in need of some better results next time out.

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

Next race meeting is Oulton Park in four weeks.

Check out the Ginetta Junior points standings.

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