Following two of the most close-fought races in recent Ginetta Junior Championship history last month at Thruxton, anticipation is high as the series returns to action this weekend at the picturesque Oulton Park (04/05 June).
While five different winners and seventeen separate top ten finishers in the first seven races showcase the competitive nature of the series, it’s a familiar trio of names that are regularly making their presence felt at the front of the pack.
Leading those is Stuart Middleton, with victories on each of the opening three meetings of the season making him the only driver so far to record more than one win – successes that give him an early eleven point advantage in the standings.
It hasn’t been plain-sailing for the Douglas Motorsport ace however with seventh and ninth place finishes at Donington Park and Thruxton respectively, meaning that despite their inferior win tallies, Will Tregurtha and Dave Wooder remain hot on his heels heading to Cheshire.
It was a breakthrough weekend for Wooder at Thruxton as he carded his maiden victory in the second race, continuing a run of finishing each race so far in the top four. Having taken pole position at Oulton twelve months ago, the TCR ace will be confident of adding to his five podiums so far.
Tregurtha meanwhile has almost matched his adversary’s consistency, having not finished outside the top five so far this campaign. After pushing Middleton and Wooder to the absolute limits at Thruxton in pursuit of victory, he’ll be eager to add to his maiden win at Donington in April.
Joining Tregurtha at the front of the field for reigning champions HHC Motorsport has been Lewis Brown, through the third year contender will have hoped to record more than his three top four finishes so far, which leave him 45 points shy of the championship leader.
JHR Developments have plenty of drivers pushing at the front too, with Cameron Roberts notching five top six results so far, whilst Geri Nicosia has failed to finish outside the top ten this far. 2015 podium-finisher Kyle Hornby meanwhile will be eager to get back fighting at the front.
Fellow JHR man Seb Perez impressed at Thruxton as he scored a maiden series pole position, remarkably making it 12 different pole-sitters in the last 13 qualifying sessions. The races didn’t go his way however, and he’s ready to improve on his best result of tenth so far this campaign.
The rookie contingent once again produced some standout performances at Thruxton, with Seb Priaulx and Harry King leading the challenge around the high-speed curves as they fought to a hugely impressive third and fourth overall in the second race.
For Priaulx, that result marked the next milestone in his burgeoning career with a first outright podium to add to his five consecutive Rookie Cup rostrum finishes, while for King it was a real breakthrough outing with a maiden double rookie podium.
Both those drivers will be hoping to replicate those results this weekend, while aiming for a return to form following a tricky Thruxton outing will be the current rookie leader Daniel Harper, who showed his credentials with a maiden outright victory at Donington.
Tom Gamble got his maiden season off to a great start with three consecutive top eight finishes, form he will be looking to return to this weekend – likewise Max Bird, who picked up four top ten finishes in the first five races of the year prior to a difficult Thruxton.
Tom Wood joined his Elite Motorsport stablemate King in breaking into the top ten for the first time in Hampshire, an achievement Jordan Collard, Charlie Fagg and Enzo Fittipaldi have also reached, whilst Connor Grady, Dhyllan Skiba and Anthony Ayres are pursuing their breakthrough results.
The Oulton weekend has established itself as a pivotal meeting in the destination of the championship title in recent seasons, with Seb Morris (2011), Harry Woodhead (2013), Jack Mitchell (2014) and Jamie Caroline (2015) all winning both races in Cheshire on their way to the title.
Time will tell if one of the class of 2016 can make a big step towards the crown this weekend, but what is for certain is that the teenage racers are sure to serve up two more thrilling races as they battle for supremacy around one of the most iconic circuits in the United Kingdom.
The action begins with two thirty minute practice sessions on Friday (3rd June), with qualifying scheduled for 14:20 the next day. The opening race follows later that afternoon at 17:50, with race two set to be televised live on ITV4 on Sunday at 14:02.
Full championship standings ahead of the weekend can be found here.