Irishman Niall Murray ended 2011 on a high with a hard fought victory in the final round of the Ginetta Junior Championship at Silverstone, the Beacon Racing driver coming out on top of a race long duel with Seb Morris.
TJ Motorsport's Brad Bailey started the race from pole, but a lightning start from Murray saw the 2010 Ginetta Junior Ireland champion take the lead, with Bailey holding second around Copse, before 2011 champion Morris dived past at Becketts.
As Morris challenging Murray straight away for the lead, behind, Sennan Fielding spun out of fourth place at Brooklands, the TJ Motorsport driver planting his car in the middle of the track, with Jake Giddings amongst a few drivers having to go off track in avoidance. This promoted Max Coates into fourth ahead of George Gamble.
At the front, the top two started a titanic battle for the lead, which would last the whole race. Morris got by for the first time at Becketts on lap three, but Murray fought his way back past on the inside down the start finish line, surviving slight contact as Morris drove into the side of him.
This allowed the three behind to get on their rear, making it a five way battle for the lead, with Bailey making it three abreast briefly at Brooklands, though they came out in the same order. Lap six saw Morris regain the lead at Becketts, but Murray was soon all over him and got by again on lap eight, another great run out of Luffield seeing him draw past.
Morris got him back with an identical move on the next lap, but once again the positions changed further around the lap as Dublin-based Murray passed at Becketts. As they approached the final lap, the duo ran side by side on the run to Brooklands, but held off Morris' charge to take the win, his second of the year; the Irishman celebrating with his arms out the window before he'd even crossed the line.
Behind, Bailey held third until the final lap, but a move by team-mate Gamble at Becketts ended in contact, with the following Coates and Declan Jones also getting caught up, all four drivers heading off circuit. This promoted Charlie Robertson to his ninth podium of the season in third, with Struan Moore fourth and William Foster fifth.
Taking a superb sixth on his debut weekend in the series was Andrew Watson, ahead of experienced racers Tom Howard and Patrick McClughan, with TJ Motorsport duo Gamble and Bailey recovering from their off to complete the top ten. Coates took eleventh ahead of Oliver Chadwick and Jones, while completing the fifteen finishers were Jake Giddings and Fielding after their earlier off track excursions.
A delighted Murray said: “It was unbelievably tough; there was no lap that I wasn't defending at all. Every single lap defending from Seb [Morris], sometimes I didn't want to keep over defending and risk getting knocked off, so he managed to slip through a couple of times and I just followed him and got back past. On the final lap there were a good few bumps from behind, but I managed to keep it on the road. It's fantastic and hopefully I can find the budget to come back next year and go for the championship.”
Morris added: “That was one of the toughest races of the year and one of the most fun. Whenever I tried to get past there was always a little bit of contact but that's just how it is. I managed to challenge for the win, despite being on three race old tyres, because we used all our fresh ones earlier in the year to try and build the championship lead, which paid dividends in the championship. They started to go off in that race, so whenever I got ahead of Niall [Murray] I couldn't get clear.”