Niall Murray started the 2012 Ginetta Junior Championship season just as he'd finished off the 2011 campaign, winning races and finishing on the podium during the opening rounds at Brands Hatch.
After going quickest in the first practice session on Friday, confidence was high heading into what was going to be a close qualifying session. Murray, running with new team Douglas Motorsport for the first time, ran consistently in the top five during the session, before setting quicker times as the session came to a close. Murray got himself into fourth and was set to go quicker when the red flags came out for a rival spinning in the gravel. This left Murray fourth on the grid for race one and third for race two.
Under bright sunshine on Sunday morning, the opening race began well for Murray, the Irishman getting up to third on the opening lap. All was not well for the 2010 Ginetta Junior Ireland champion though, a lack of rear end grip meaning his car was a handful and on lap three Murray was bundled back to seventh place after being pushed to the outside around Clearways, Paddock Hill and Druids.
After a short safety car period, during which gained Murray two places for a rival spinning off and another receiving a puncture, he went on the offensive and was quickly up to fourth, before pulling a great move on rookie Harry Woodhead at Clearways to take third. Just as he began to close down the front two, they took each other off, allowing Murray to nip through and take the first victory of the season.
A delighted Murray said: “I'm really delighted to start the season with a win, starting the championship on a high was our aim. I managed to keep my nose clean for the race despite a lack of rear end grip lots of incidents around me. Coming back from seventh, I just wanted to get back up to a podium position, but to win was amazing.”
The afternoon's second race saw Murray get a great start and a slick move into Druids saw him move in to second. Murray began chasing the leader and with the two setting identical lap times, he couldn't quite get on to his bumper to force a mistake. From there, Murray consolidated the spot for the remainder of the race to take second and with it the early championship lead. The weekend's two podiums also made it eight in a row for the Irishman, in addition to the six in a row he took at the end of the 2011 season.
Commenting on the weekend, Murray added: “This has been a fantastic start to our season, just what I would have hoped for. We have a good lead in the championship to build on as we move to Donington. I have to say a massive word of thanks to my sponsors and my team Douglas Motorsport who prepared a fantastic car this weekend. Also well done to my team-mate Andrew Watson finishing seventh in race two.”