Niall Murray secured a sensational double victory during Rounds Seven and Eight of the 2012 Ginetta Junior Championship at Oulton Park to storm to a twenty point championship lead.
It was Charlie Robertson, the championship leader heading into the meeting, who dominated qualifying to take pole for both races. In the opening encounter, a slow getaway for Robertson allowed Pepe Massot to lead into the first corner, with Robertson having to slot into second ahead of Murray and Ollie Chadwick.
Chadwick's strong run didn't last long though, with a big off leaving him in the wall and out of the race, causing the introduction of the safety car. An impressive re-start for Massot saw him maintain his lead, with Robertson coming under pressure from Murray.
The Irishman found his way past on lap five, before Robertson lost further ground to Sennan Fielding on lap six to drop to fourth. In front, Murray had caught the leader and grabbed the lead on lap eight at Knickerbrook, just before another safety car period caused by an off for his Irish team-mate Andrew Watson.
Douglas Motorsport’s Murray controlled the restart well and maintained his lead over the final few laps to take the win, with Massot second and Fielding just holding off Robertson to complete the podium. Oliver Basey-Fisher took fifth, while Harry Woodhead fought back from a slow start to take sixth ahead of his Beacon Racing team-mate Keith Donegan and William Palmer.
Robertson started the live televised second race from pole position and the 15 year old was able to lead round the first corner, despite a sluggish getaway allowing rookie Massot alongside. Woodhead slotted into third ahead of Murray, while working his way up to fifth early on was Fielding.
Robertson broke away early on, with Murray getting up to second after contact between Massot and Woodhead at the hairpin, however the race was soon red flagged after a huge incident for newcomer Ricky Collard. The Tollbar Racing with WIRED driver lost control heading into Old Hall and spun off track, hitting the barriers hard and coming to rest on top of the tyre wall.
The field lined back up in their original grid positions for a new six lap race, with pole-sitter Robertson getting a poor getaway, dropping to third behind Massot and Murray. The Spaniard's lead lasted half a lap before Murray squeezed his way in front heading into Knickerbrook, with Robertson and Fielding also finding their way past at the exit of the corner to drop Massot to fourth.
Robertson began to challenge for the lead, however it backfired when Fielding found his way past for second, dropping Robertson into the clutches of Massot. Woodhead ran fifth, while Palmer worked his way up to sixth early on before an unfortunate spin saw him end up in the gravel.
At the front, Murray soon came under huge pressure from Fielding for the lead, while behind Robertson was also being forced to defend from Massot. The Hillspeed driver briefly found his way past on lap five at the hairpin, but Robertson got back past on the run up Clay Hill. This left the duo side-by-side heading into Knickerbrook, with contact sending Robertson across the front of Massot and into the barriers. Massot continued in third, with Robertson able to re-join at the bottom end of the top ten.
On the final lap, an ambitious move around the outside at Cascades nearly paid off for Fielding, but Murray held him off and came round to cross the line for his second win of the weekend and fourth of the season. Fielding took second, with Massot following to secure a superb double podium. Woodhead took fourth ahead of Donegan, with Chadwick completing the top six ahead of a recovering Robertson and privateer Tom Jackson.
Talking to TheCheckeredFlag.co.uk, a happy Murray said: “A pair of wins and no reason to be visiting the CoC, so very, very happy! I couldn't really ask for much more really, it's my first double win in the series and I'm just really delighted to get the double win and the championship lead. My whole family are over this weekend, so thanks to them and my team.”
Reflecting on race two, Fielding commented: “Just before that race we'd realised out cat had gone, which hasn't helped us all the way through the weekend, as having checked the timing we were slowest through the speed traps. We got that sorted and went out then and we had so much pace.
“I got behind Niall and had the pace to get past him, but he was defending so well. I tried to go round the outside going in to Cascades and thought I'd done it, but just couldn't get it. It was a great race.”
Provisional 2012 Ginetta Junior Championship Standings (After Rd. 8):
1 N.Murray 210
2 S.Fielding 190
3 C.Robertson 184
4 H.Woodhead 142
5 P.Massot 120
6 A.Watson 120
7 K.Donegan 115
8 O.Chadwick 109
9 O.Basey-Fisher 103
10 N.Harrison 92