Croft 27/28 June 2015 - Ginetta Junior
After a long trek up north on the Thursday evening, it was lunchtime before the first practice session of the day. With the weather set to remain dry, and temperatures around 20 degrees, it would get warm in the cars. Geri finished the session in 18th place of 23 with some new drivers having joined the championship. We were a little disappointed, 1.76 seconds adrift of Caroline up front when we had expected to get within a second. But worse was to come later in the afternoon where Geri was now 22nd and 2.5 seconds off the pace. He accepted that he wasn't at his best in the first session but was sure he had driven well in session 2. Full timings for the day can been seen here.
The evening was spent going right through the car, the left front brake was binding, and a rear left damper was bent, maybe a hangover from the Monday test when Geri had been tipped into a spin by Lewis Brown? With all these fixed, there was renewed hope for Saturday morning.
All pictures on this page courtesy Jakob Ebrey unless otherwise stated
We had hoped to send Geri out early in Free Practice, but best laid plans and all that. With 24 drivers out there, Geri was unable to pick up a tow but was still 2.s seconds off pole, worse, he was in 21st of 24 drivers, and more than half a second off 19th. He was going to have to work a lot harder come qualifying if he was to move up the grid at all.
We sent Geri out on a mission for this session, he was second down to the assembly area to ensure he would get out at the front of the cars and hopefully pick up a tow along the way. After a brisk outlap he was going for it, straight down to Clervaux, turned in and went to heavy across the inside kerb at Hawthorn. The car launched into the air, and on landing with a bang, Geri had no power. Unbeknown to him, the engine had cut out, so all he could do was park up and watch qualifying from the marshal's post. At the end of the session he was towed back to the paddock where the engine fired up first time.
Cue a complete check of the car's electrics in the hope of finding what happened before the car would be out again for the first race.
With no time set in qualifying, Geri would be starting the race from the very back of the grid - at least the free practice laps are taken into account to fulfil the need to complete 3 laps.
Geri got a great start, left Connor Grady on the line, past Alex Day, then Dan Zelos while Ben Green was also launching his way forwards from 22nd. The gap between Fagg and Bailey closed up so Geri jinked right, outside Fagg and down towards Clervaux. Then inside Bailey and tucked in behind Perez as they went into Hawthorn. Geri had to go defensive into Tower as Fagg was trying to retake his place, his car having loked quick down the straights all weekend, indeed Fagg was 5th fastest through the first speed trap.
Down towards Sunny In and Perez puts a wheel on the dirt as he brakes and spins right round in front if Geri who just manages to miss him. Back behind Green, but both a lot further forwards than they started. Roberts had run wide through the Sunnies and although back on track was running slowly down to the Complex where many cars including Geri were able to pass him. At the end of the first lap Geri had gained 8 places and was now up to 16th!
Roberts would get a nose past Geri on the start-finish straight but had to back out at Clervaux where Geri had the inside line. In front, Frank Bird had spun on the outside at Hawthorn kicking up a dust cloud which left the drivers behind coming in blind. Matt Chapman went outside where he remained, Green went to the infield, but Geri was able to miss Bird and remain on the track. Another defensive line into Tower saw Geri unable to hold off Roberts who went by coming into the Esses. Lap 2 and another placed gained, now up to 15th.
Green appeared to be holding up Roberts, so we were hopeful Geri would be able to catch up before he passed Green so as to take best advantage. Newcomer De Francesco appeared slow out of Sunny In on lap 4, Roberts and Green passing him before Sunny Out, Geri gaining the place on the run out of Sunny Out and up to 14th place. As they turned into the complex, Wooder's car was sideways across the track, Geri took avoiding action which allowed De Francesco who went the other side to get back in front, but Geri repassed before the hairpin. Seconds later, Zelos would round the corner unsighted and slammed into Wooder - this brought the safety car out the following lap, although Geri didn't pick it up until approaching Tower. He was now sitting 13th.
One lap under the safety car and the race was back on. At the point of the safety car being deployed, Geri was 3 seconds behind Green and Roberts, more cruicially 5 seconds ahead of 14th placed Perez. These gaps were nullified. Halfway through the complex Tregurtha and Stacey span off in synchronised style, as Geri passed them on the way to the hairpin, he was up to 11th. And then disaster struck, going round the Hairpin Geri was struck at the rear by Perez who locked under braking, and spun Geri right round. He was left facing in the wring direction and could not rejoin the race until all cars had passed him except Tregurtha who himself was still rejoining the track from the previous corner's off. Back to 19th place!
Two more laps to go, Geri was too far behind the next car to make any impression, but Tregurtha was now on his tail. Two slow laps as Geri tried to defend from Tregurtha, and became a little ragged in places. Final lap, Bird spun leaving Sunny Out, so a place gained, which was almost immediately lost to Tregurtha who passed as Geri washed out wide at the Complex. A challenging race that could so easily have been an 11th place.
In the post race judicials, Perez was given an eight place grid penalty to put him back behind Geri, as we learned last time out, grid penalties come with 3 points on your race licence and the loss of nine championship points. Perez, his father and the team had all been apologetic, we could hardly throw out the toys given our recent record, Geri even thought the punishment was harsh even though the move cost him 8 places. On appeal, the punishment was reduced to a written formal warning, we were fine with this, but now Perez would start race 2 from 11th!
Many teams had a very busy night after the carnage that was race 1, amazingly everyone made it onto teh grid for the second race on Sunday afternoon. Geri would be starting from 19th, with the likes of Zelos, Wooder and De Francesco behind him. While disappointing, his view was he was already 5 places further forward than where he started Race 1.
Another good start saw Geri launch straight past Connor Grady in front, taking to the grass to do so, then past Charlie Fagg before arriving at a crowded Clervaux. Geri ran wide at Hawthorn and as they arrived at the chicane Fagg was alongside with Wooder close behind. Geri was forced nto missing the chicane coming out in front of Fagg, but his sense of fair play saw him give the place back on the run down to Tower even though he would probably have got away with it in the early race melee. Right in front of Geri, Roberts tagged Bird who had a massive shunt into the barriers, Geri once again lucky not to hit a spinning car right in front of him as Bird bounced back across the track.
Before the end of the first lap, the safety car was deployed so Bird's car could be retrieved. Geri was now up to 17th place where he would remain for the safety car period. The safety car came in late at the end of lap 3, Caroline went too early, changed his mind and backed everyone up again before goinmg again. Geri could not get past Fagg - Fagg's car being amongst the very quickest down the straights and Geri tripping over it round the corners. Even hanging back an taking a run up didn't work as Geri would catch Fagg too soon. Five laps would pass, Geri still in the same 17th place and with Wooder challenging behind him, Fagg leading a 6 car train which went Fagg, Geri, Wooder, Zelos, Roberts and Chapman.
Lap 6 and Geri tried to dummy Fagg going into Tower, staying purposely wide hoping Fagg would move out and leave a gap down the inside - but Wooder took advantage and went inside Geri instead, down to 18th. And now Zelos was the car right behind - even down on power, Zelos would be a threat. Final lap and Geri regained 17th place passing Wooder round the outside going into the complex, and was able to hold the place to the finish line.
All in all a poor weekend, we barely scored any points and although Geri managed to avoid any significant damage, the races were ruined by bad luck in the first which probably cost us 11th and 10th place, results which would have been the kick start that the season so badly needs. It is now the half way point in the season, we are 15th and while we would like to think we are better than that, there are one or two behind us who have looked much quicker. There is a six week break until round 6 at Snetterton, somewhere Geri has raced a Ginetta before. We will attempt to get some testing in during the break and then look forwards to a more successful secind half of the season.
Full details from TSL for the race weekend can be seen here.
Check out the Ginetta Junior points standings.
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