Niall Murray has got a title challenge in his sights as he prepares for his second season in the Ginetta Junior Championship. The Checkered Flag caught up with Niall at the recent Ginetta Media Day to discuss the upcoming season.
The 2010 Ginetta Junior Ireland champion joined the UK series last year and picked up two podiums in the first half of the season as he adapted to the series and his car. Once comfortable, Murray came into his own and went on to take six consecutive podiums in the last six races, including his first two wins, to end the season fourth in the championship.
After a stunning end to the season, Murray is hoping to hit the ground running in 2012 and with a couple of his favourite tracks opening up the calendar, the Irishman is confident of a strong start.
Murray said: “We're starting at Brands Indy and Donington, tracks I'm strong at, so I need to hit the ground running there and try and get a couple of podiums. Then towards the end of the year we've got Rockingham, Silverstone and Brands GP, they're my strongest tracks, so I'm going to be strong in the second half of the season again, just need to be better at the start this time around.”
A big change for 2012 sees Murray switch teams. After competing with Beacon Racing in 2011, Murray has made the decision to join fellow Ginetta Ireland graduate Andrew Watson at Irish team Douglas Motorsport, who are making their debut in the series this year.
Murray commented: “We knew Andrew from the Irish series and Wayne we've known for years anyway, so we chatted about running with him over here and got something sorted. Both me and Andrew are hoping to be running at the front, so I'm happy to have a team-mate and the advantages we have with that, like someone to tow with in qualifying.”
To take the championship glory, Murray will have to beat one of the most competitive fields in recent series history, with Murray being one of four of the top seven drivers from 2011 returning. As well as Murray, Charlie Robertson. George Gamble and Sennan Fielding are returning and all four will be aiming to succeed Seb Morris as champion.
Murray added: “It's going to be a lot more difficult to win this year than it was for the champion last year, cause he had rookies behind him in the championship. It wasn't that competitive last year, considering how close it was the year before. I think this year will be similar to then, with it going down to the final round. By the end of last year, me, Charlie and George were often quicker than Seb, with Sennan around too, so this year will be tough and it will be about being consistent, getting results and I'm hoping to get top five's in most the races and finish them all.”