Ginetta Junior Championship rookie Nathan Harrison created a stir amongst series regulars after putting his Hillspeed car on the front row for Rounds Three and Four at Donington Park, however two tough races meant that was to be the high point of his weekend.
After narrowly missing out on a podium finish on his series debut at Brands Hatch, the 15 year old was confident on a strong performance at Donington. The Oxfordshire-based racer started it off in near perfect style, becoming the first rookie to qualifying on the front row this season as he put himself second on the grid for both races, making it a Hillspeed lockout of the front row with team-mate George Gamble taking the poles.
Harrison said: “The team's strategy had been to allow the rest of the field to go out at the start of the session but, when it started to spit with rain, we had to go for it. Although George and I caught some of the other cars, I opted to back off, and that cooled the tyres enough for me to improve my time. I was on pole for much of the session, so it was disappointing to see George go slightly faster right at the end.”
The opening race saw Harrison appear to be a magnet for contact though, the rookie being pushed off track twice in the opening laps to fall to ninth. After a short safety car period, the contact continued when Harrison and a rival were left with nowhere to go when Harrison's team-mate Pepe Massot span, resulting in heavy contact together, ending Harrison's race and leaving him nursing a sore hand.
The Hillspeed team were left with a major rebuilding job to do, but great work by the team allowing Harrison to take up his front row slot, which became pole position when his team-mate Gamble opted not to start. A good getaway led to Harrison leading a Ginetta Junior race for the first time, however contact on lap two saw him drop out the lead.
The incident damaged Harrison's steering, but the youngster drove round the problem and stayed in the top five throughout the race, challenging for second place at one stage, before eventually dropping back to finish in fifth place.
Harrison commented: “It's a shame we couldn't put it on the podium, especially considering where we started. It was a fantastic effort to start on the front row, and I'd like to have had something to show for that. However, after what happened in race one, and with the effort the entire Hillspeed team had to put in overnight just to ensure we had cars on the grid on Sunday, it is good to get another top five finish.”