An exciting mix of talented second year drivers and gifted rookies are forming the grid for the 2012 Ginetta Junior Championship, which kicks off this weekend at Brands Hatch.
The one-make championship sees drivers aged 14-17 compete in identical Ginetta G40J race cars and is renowned for exciting, action-packed racing, as it's drivers battle it out to make a name for themselves in the motorsport world.
Reigning champions Hillspeed are returning for 2012 with three cars for series returnee George Gamble and newcomers Nathan Harrison and Pepe Massot. Gamble, who took third in the main championship last year before going on to win the Winter Series, will be going for the title this year and continue Hillspeed's successful record in the series, whilst Harrison and Spaniard Massot will be looking for strong maiden seasons.
To take the title, Gamble will have to beat his arch nemesis from 2011, Charlie Robertson. The young Scot returns with HHC Motorsport and will be looking to go one better than last season, when he took three wins on his way to second in the championship after a close battle with Gamble. Robertson will joined at HHC by William Palmer, who after making six race appearances last season, is preparing for his first full season in the Ginetta Juniors, and series newcomer Tom Jackson.
Another title challenger will come in the form of Irishman Niall Murray, who returns with a new team, Douglas Motorsport. Murray will be looking to add to his two wins from 2011 and add to his 2010 Ginetta Junior Ireland title. Fellow Ireland series graduate Andrew Watson joins him in the team and after a strong debut on the final weekend of 2011, he'll be hoping for some strong results through 2012.
Another racewinner from 2011 returns this season in the form of Sennan Fielding. The 2011 Ginetta Scholarship winner took a win on the final weekend of last season and will be hoping to pick up more this year with JHR Developments. Fielding will be joined at the team by fellow second year driver Ollie Chadwick, who made his debut in the series last season, taking a best result of seventh at Brands Hatch GP.
Fielding's successor as the Ginetta Scholarship winner is Oliver Basey-Fisher, the youngster joining the series with a fully funded drive from Ginetta. Basey-Fisher, who is running with Tollbar Racing with WIRED, is one of many exciting rookies joining the series, with Elliot Paterson running with RPM Motorsport, whilst Beacon Racing are running the quick pairing of Harry Woodhead and Keith Donegan.
With Gamble, Robertson, Murray and Fielding all returning from 2011, the 2012 Ginetta Junior Championship is shaping up to be a classic, with fans hoping the drivers can produce a close, exciting title battle, like they saw in 2010 from Tom Ingram, Jake Hill and Louise Richardson.
While the returning four, who all finished in the top seven in last year's championship, will be the early favourites for the championship, there's sure to be a rookie or two who force their way to the front and pick up some podium finishes and race wins. You can follow the series throughout the year at TheCheckeredFlag.co.uk. We will be covering the series in depth once again in 2012, with qualifying and race reports from every round, as well as exclusive interviews and blogs through the year.