Niall Murray was the star of the weekend during Rounds Fifteen and Sixteen of the 2011 Ginetta Junior Championship at Rockingham, the Irishman taking two hard fought second place finishes to take the biggest points haul of any driver out the weekend.
Reigning Ginetta Junior Ireland champion Murray headed into the weekend with two podium finishes under his belt from Donington Park and Oulton Park and was confident of adding to his tally, despite not seeing the circuit before practice on Friday morning.
After encouraging runs in Friday practice, Murray knew a strong performance was possible in qualifying and the Dubliner went on to qualify fourth for race one, while his second best time gave him a front row start for race two, just 0.045s off pole.
Murray said: “The last three rounds didn't really go according to plan, I thought they'd be a lot better. The first time I'd ever seen the track was Friday morning and most other people were testing through the week here, so to be on the pace straight away, I was absolutely delighted. Then to qualifying fourth and second, I was thrilled.”
Both races saw Murray make blinding starts and the Dubliner led the opening laps in both in his Beacon Racing-prepared G40J. In race one, he dropped to third on lap two, but fought back to reclaim second two laps from the end, while in race two, Murray slipped to second on lap two, but kept on the leader's tail throughout and took a comfortable second place.
Murray concluded: “Naturally, I am disappointed not to have won them both, but I'm still absolutely delighted to have come second in both the races. Anytime before when I got a good result, there was a bad second race and a couple of times during the year I'd be up there in the races and be knocked off, go off myself or have problems with the car, so to be right up there in both races and to be fighting for the wins, I'm really pleased.
“I'm not sure why I clicked with the circuit, but I've been more relaxed this weekend and been thinking more about the driving and not everything else. I've had huge help from Aron Smith in the Clio's, giving me some driver coaching this weekend and the results paid off, so thanks to him. Hopefully at Brands and Silverstone I can go one better. A win is coming, I know it is.”