The Ginetta Junior Championship makes its annual trip to Scotland for two races at Knockhill this weekend (12/13 August), with the title battle heating up after the top five closed up in the points last time out at Snetterton.
While JHR Developments team-mates Seb Priaulx and Tom Gamble remain the two to beat, the chasing pack of Kiern Jewiss, Daniel Harper and Tom Wood all gained ground – Harper and Wood sharing the Snetterton wins while Jewiss carded a podium double.
Priaulx had headed into the second half of the season as the in-form driver with four wins in the previous five races, however it would prove to be a tougher outing at Snetterton as he overcame contact to salvage a sole podium and two other top eight finishes.
Those results were still enough to see him build his lead over Gamble to seventeen points though as the four-time race winner this year suffered a similar story in Norfolk, as he recovered from contact to pick up a podium finish of his own, his ninth of the campaign.
The main beneficiary of their drama was reigning Rookie champion Harper, who has moved 33 points closer to the summit of the standings after one of his best ever weekends in the series, with a maiden double victory making it six podium visits for the season so far.
Jewiss just pips his Douglas Motorsport team-mate to third in the standings though after another stellar weekend from the clear top rookie in the series, with a pair of second place finishes meaning he now has eight for the campaign – a maiden win the least he now deserves.
Wood was quietly going about his business this season as regular visits to the podium kept him in touch at the head of the standings, but he truly announced his title ambitions at Snetterton with his maiden series victory and maintaining that momentum is the target now.
One driver looking on at the top five with envy is sure to be Harry King, who hasn’t been able to build on an impressive rookie campaign in 2016 and become a title contender this year, but is more than capable of getting in the mix for race wins again this weekend.
Last season Knockhill produced a pair of first-time Ginetta Junior race-winners in Seb Perez and Geri Nicosia, and alongside Jewiss, two other drivers who head to Scotland this year looking to add their names to the roll call of Junior victors are Adam Smalley and Connor Grady.
Smalley led a Ginetta Junior race for the first time at Snetterton as he secured a career-best overall finish of second, with a hat-trick of top four finishes moving him up to second in the Rookie standings, albeit still over ninety points shy of class leader Jewiss.
The driver to drop back at the expense of his JHR Developments team-mate was Harry Dyson, who was left to rue what might have been after taking a race victory on the road, however a track limits penalty cost him what would have been a second outright win of the year.
Grady meanwhile was once again on the cusp of a maiden podium finish as he matched his career-best result in the series in fourth, while Jordan Collard also got closer than ever to his overall podium breakthrough and will head to Knockhill in high spirits.
While Jewiss, Dyson and Smalley lead the Rookie contingent, an ultra-competitive entry in the class this season has produced four other multiple podium finishers, with Ruben Del Sarte, Luke Browning, Tom Canning and Matt Luff all looking to add to their tallies this weekend.
Full championship standings ahead of the Knockhill meeting can be found here: http://tsl-timing.com/file/?f=TOCA/2017/173003ptsgij.pdf