Jake Byrne took a strong third place in the 2011 Ginetta Junior Ireland championship, the ABR driver fighting at the front throughout the year. The Checkered Flag recently spoke with Jake to reflect on his 2011 season.
Byrne enjoyed a competitive campaign in the Irish G20 series, racing at the front of the pack at each meeting, taking two wins and six other podiums as he fought with Andy O'Brien and Sean Doyle at the top of the championship standings.
Byrne commented: “The intention was to win but it was never going to be an easy thing to do with SeÃ¡n Doyle and Andy O'Brien because they are both great drivers. I would have liked a couple more wins and one pole from qualifying would have been really nice, but i am happy with where i finished. I can’t thank my parents enough for giving me such a great opportunity. Also, I would like to give a huge thank you to team ABR, who ran me and Sean this season.
Byrne enjoyed a brilliant fight with Sean Doyle, Andy O'Brien and Andrew Watson throughout the year and relished racing in such a competitive, close championship, commenting: “I very much enjoyed it, it was great to be racing amongst so brilliant drivers especially on the occasions I came out on top. There was some brilliant racing during the season especially in the last four rounds when it got very close.”
As a prize for coming third in the championship, Jake and rival Sean Doyle will receive a free test in a Ginetta G40, an opportunity Byrne is looking forward to:: “Yeah I can’t wait, it was a huge surprise to be told me SeÃ¡n and I get to test the G40 and we are hugely grateful to Ginetta for the prize.”
The Ginetta Junior series moved to Ireland in 2010 and Jake believes its introduction has been hugely beneficial for his career: “It was vital in my progression as a driver; it provided a much cheaper alternative to racing in Britain and also allowed me to compete in circuit racing instead of Rallycross. Also, the championship provided a car which is definitely not easy to drive; being rear wheel drive, with road tyres and a light rear end the Ginetta G20 Juniors do have a tendency to get a bit sideways, which was lots of fun and taught me a lot of car control.”
While rival Andy O'Brien is heading over to the UK to compete in the Ginetta G50 Cup next year as his prize for winning the series, both Byrne is staying in Ireland, competing in the Irish Global GT Light championship. This will see him come up against Sean Doyle, who is also moving into the series, and will see a real family connection, with his Dad also competing in the series.
Byrne explained: “Next season I intend to race in the Irish Global GT Light championship with team ABR again. As a racing driver the plan is always to win but realistically a top 5 finish in the championship would be great, I will be driving against very good, experienced drivers so it will definitely not be easy. Hopefully I will get some podiums and a win would be absolutely fantastic, also, it would be nice to beat SeÃ¡n Doyle and especially nice to beat my dad who also races in the championship.”
This season has seen 2010 Ginetta Junior Ireland Champion Niall Murray competing in the UK in the Ginetta Juniors, with Jake following his progress all year, hoping one day to compete in England himself. Byrne concluded: “I've been following Niall's progress and it's been really good to see an Irish driver racing in Britain and doing so well. It was great to see him win the very last round of the championship and a well-deserved win after an incredibly intense race. I really want to race in England sometime, the Globals usually do a few rounds a year in England and it would be nice to visit some new tracks, especially the new Snetterton and I have been told Oulton Park and Knockhill are fantastic.”