Silverstone 26/27 September 2015 - Ginetta Junior
Silverstone laid on a couple of 25 minute Junior sessions on the Wednesday, although when we arrived it seemed that junior drivers over 16 could partake in the closed wheel sessions so long as an instructor was present - we hadnít been told this. However the closing speeds of the Ginetta G55 and Porsche Cup cars on the Junior cars suggested we probably didnít miss much by not doing the extra. There was at least one incident between a G55 and a Junior car.
From our perspective, Chris jumped in with Geri for the first 10 minutes, then used the radio to keep in touch. By session two the passenger seat had been removed and ballast replaced to ensure we were running at representative weight. Comparing times with other drivers was a waste of time, with no policing of track limits, the majority were ignoring those at Copse. With the gravel trap having been replaced years ago, there is so much tarmac you can keep the car flat in 6th if you run wide enough, plainly carrying more speed than if you braked and stayed within the limits. We were feeling comfortable that with limits policed Geri would be competitive being able to run low 61s legally.
There were two sessions on Friday afternoon for the Juniors. Geri looked quick straight out of the box although disappointingly track limits were again not being policed. Six laps in and Geri was in 4th place with a 61.2, just 3 HHC cars having gone quicker. Satisfied that we could run quickly, we swapped over to new tyres and Geri was still able to do a 61.6 and we were happy that both times were within track limits. By the end of the session we had still only dropped to 8th place, and just 0.33 off fastest.
Session two didnít go so well, although Geri managed a 61.5, he was the only driver in the session of 24 not to go faster than in the first session, and finished a disappointing 22nd. His time from session one was enough for him to be 14th fastest overall - but not what we had expected given our speed so far this week. Geri then told the team that voltage was down, checks showed an alternator wire had frayed, and on repair the voltage was back up again.
See the full timings for Friday here.
Two laps in and Geri was running 5th with a 61.6 on brand new tyres. The Clerk of the Course had given out the necessary warnings about track limits, they would be policed today. But then Geri started to slip down the order, he found himself running with Jonny Hadfield who seemed more interested in screwing with Geriís laps than worrying about his own. Given that we ran with them last Winter and that they have asked if weíd like to run with them this Winter, baffling behaviour - and annoying.
Any time Geri was in danger of getting a decent first sector in, so Jonny would cut across him into Brooklands and baulk him for the rest of the lap. Geri finally managed to improve to 61.5 but by now this was only good enough for 19th place. We werenít as concerned as we usually would be by this, Geri had shown good speed and was 8th fastest through both speed traps, with a clear lap in qualifying we still felt we were top ten competitive.
Geri was amongst the last cars to line up for qualifying, something that would hurt him. As the cars went out, two HHC cars almost stopped on the track to join up with the other pair at the back. Geri spent the outlap running with them before they slowed to force him out. The gap forwards was already large and he spent most of the session trying to catch someone to get a tow from. His second lap was good enough for 9th running in open air, but improving on this was proving difficult. He went a little quicker, a 61.3 on lap 6 but this would only be good enough for 12th, although identical to the thousandth to Di Francesco in 11th. Late in the session he became embroiled with Hadfield again, and with the same result. On Geriís best first sector Hadfield cut across him into Brooklands and the opportunity to improve a couple of places was lost. A quick final lap from Hornby, already on pole, distorted the gaps, but back in 12th Geri was still only .35 off a front row slot.
12th on the grid meant an inside position alongside Di Francesco and behind Roberts. A good start saw Geri right on the bumper of Roberts, but no way through. Roberts ran wider than Geri through Copse but Geri couldnít take advantage. Starting further back, Monger was able to run outside Geri and then cut inside Roberts on the run down to Becketts. At the end of the lap, Geri was still 12th, one place lost to Monger but gained from Di Francesco who was now 14th. Lap 2 and Geri gained a few hundredths on Roberts, and was 0.17 closer to Caroline and Hornby who were battling for the lead.
Another lap in and Geri lost a hundredth to Roberts, but gained another 4/10ths on the leader - back in 12th the gap to the front was 2.7 seconds! Roberts was defending with everything he could into Copse and Brooklands. Geri got his nose past Roberts at Becketts on lap 4 but Roberts carried more speed with the wide line and was able to take his place right back in front up Wellington Straight. Monger spun as Brooklands turned into Luffield, Geri lost speed avoiding the spinning Monger which allowed Day to capitalise and come through running out of Woodcote. Another place gained at the expense of one lost - still 12th. Day was running down the middle of the straight defending, Geri couldnít carry sufficient speed through Copse to stop Hadfield from putting his nose inside and then passing Geri in the braking area for Becketts. Down to 13th after 5 laps, but still only 5 seconds covered the first 18 cars.
Lap 6 and Geri was putting Hadfield under pressure, Hadfield ran wide out of Luffield and fell back to 17th, Geri was now back to 12th and little over a tenth adrift of Day, and still only 3.1 seconds off the lead. Middleton came through on the inside at Becketts on lap 8, at Brooklands three cars went off - Chapman, Hawkey and Hornby, Hornby just coming back on in front of Geri (Hornby would receive a grid penalty for race 2 for this incident) and again Geri had to take evasive action which allowed Di Francesco to pass him. 2 places gained (Chapman and Hawkey), two places lost! And still 12th.
Hadfield came back through coming out of Becketts giving Geri a bump or three as they ran up the straight, but Geri kept his foot in and held him off going into Brooklands, losing time on Di Francesco who for the second lap running was very wide at Copse. Hadfield tried to get alongside Geri again down the Wellington Straight, again Geri held him off.
Hadfield had another run at Geri coming out of Copse on the final lap, this time making the move stick once again into Becketts. Geri got a better exit out of Woodcote, but it was too late as Hadfield crossed the line an eighth of a second ahead of Geri, Geri all but pushing him over the line. The final finishing position of 13th could so easily have been higher had Geri not lost places avoiding spinners right in front of him. Twice that happened, both times a car behind was able to take advantage - we had been competitive with Day before the first such incident and he finished 8th.
Although Geri finished the previous race in 13th, he started the race from 12th again due to the grid penalty that moved Hornby back behind him. So same starting place, this time with Hadfield alongside him and Di Francesco immediately in front.
This time the start was only average, Geri holding station compared to Di Francesco and Middleton from the row ahead on the grid. Hadfield got one of his usual good starts and came round the outside through Copse, so already one place lost. Di Francesco cut across the grass at Becketts spinning right in front of Hadfield and as usual in avoiding the crash ahead, Geri lost a place to Hornby who came round the outside through Becketts. But at least he was up to 11th, the highest heíd been so far this weekend, even if he was a second adrift of the train of cars ahead, and with only Tregurtha close behind.
Lap 2 saw Geri and Tregurtha closing up on the train ahead, coming into Brooklands on lap 3 Geri was right behind Hornby and Middleton who were side by side. As they approached the end of the lap, Hornby jinked right causing Middleton to back out or be put in the wall, Geri crossed the line 1/100th ahead and now in 10th place, 2/10s behind Hornby. But Middleton passed Geri at the end of the straight taking Tregurtha through with him, as Day was baulking Geri and then had a big slide exiting Copse. Back to 12th just in time for the safety car to come out so Di Francesco could be retrieved from Becketts where he had been since the first lap.
There were two laps behind the safety car, bizarrely Geri was now further behind the leader (3.8s compared to 2.2) than he had been before the safety car boards went out. Geri was running out in clear air to get his engine temperature down and amazed that most others were still sitting nose to tail. From the restart Geri got an average run and by the end of lap 7 was still 12th but just 3.3s off the lead losing just 2 tenths to the leader Matthiesen who chose when to break, such was the closeness of the race.
Coming up Wellington on lap 8, Tregurtha, Middleton and Day were three breast directly ahead of Geri, who now had Grady behind him. Tregurtha momentarily passed them both before almost running into the back of Zelos, Middleton getting back through, Day slotting in between Tregurtha and Geri as they turned into Brooklands. Tregurtha lost it coming out of Luffield spinning right round, Geri went left and Day went right, Fagg caught right up and was now bumping Geri from behind before crossing the line 9/1000ths ahead. Day ran wide through Copse allowing Geri through, Geri also shaking off Fagg into Copse. There was now a 9 car train ahead with a gap of a couple of seconds, and Geri in tenth was leading the 5 car train with Grady, Fagg, Chapman, Stacey and Bailey making up the second pack.
Grady was now bumping Geri into Becketts, along Wellington, but still ended lap 9 in 10th place. On lap 10 coming into Becketts, Fagg and Grady were alongside each other behind Geri, Geri got a big bump from Grady sending him wide and allowing Grady and Chapman through, Fagg joined in giving Geri a show as he rounded Becketts, Stacey also able to follow through. From 10th to 14th in a corner. Unknown to us, up ahead Caroline had taken a big hit and smoke was pouring from the rear bodywork. He fell to the back of the leading pack before the finish line with two laps remaining.
Chapman had broken free and was closing on the lead pack, Geri passed Stacey at Copse on the final lap and was closing in on Grady and Fagg. At Becketts Caroline ran into Roberts taking them both off the track, Geri came out tight trying to pass Grady up Wellington Straight, but was unable to do losing half a car length over the whole straight. The margin ahead was even closer this time as Geri crossed the line in 11th and 0.11 behind 10th placed Grady.
Another deserved top ten place didnít happen due to the actions of others, running in 10th and then being punted back to 15th cost Geri what would probably have been another 8th or 9th place. We must learn from this.
All in all, a better weekend than we have had since Snetterton although the hoped for top ten positions didnít quite materialise. Next up is a track day with RMA on the Brands Hatch GP circuit prior to the final rounds of the season on the same circuit. The gap in the championship back from Day has increased from 1 point to 4, while Wooderís continued resurgence has seen him move in front of Geri, putting us back into 15th place with realistically only 14th to aim for.
Full details of the weekend from TSL can be seen here.
Check out the Ginetta Junior points standings.
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