Hillspeed were the main casualties during an incident-packed weekend in the Ginetta Junior Championship at Donington Park.
The opening race ended with two written off cars for George Gamble and Pepe Massot after a multi-car incident, and one extensively damaged for Nathan Harrison after a separate incident. The second race ended better for the team though, Massot taking a remarkable maiden podium finish despite injuring both ankles in the incident.
The weekend had started fantastically for the reigning champions, with Gamble and Harrison making it a one-two for the team in qualifying, while Massot qualified a strong ninth fastest. Nottingham teenager Gamble led the race from the off, while Harrison slipped down the field and Massot produced a sensational opening lap to climb to fifth.
Gamble dropped to second early on, before fighting back to re-take the lead on lap four. On lap eight, the chaos began, when Gamble was tagged by a rival, spinning him onto the edge of the road. Massot was one of the first on the scene and had nowhere to go, resulting in a heavy contact with Gamble's car, with several other cars getting caught up in the incident behind.
Both Gamble's and Massot's cars were write offs, while both drivers had to go to hospital for check-ups, Gamble for a sore back and Massot for his ankles. Harrison meanwhile had been caught up in a separate incident earlier on the same lap, hitting a spinning rival ahead, resulting in all three Hillspeed cars having immense levels of damage.
Working tirelessly through the night on Saturday until the early hours of Sunday morning, the Hillspeed mechanics were able to not only repair Harrison's car, but ready a spare car for the brave Massot. Gamble meanwhile opted not to race, as championship regulations dictate the use of a spare car carries with it a 20-point deduction from the driver's season score.
The second race, televised on ITV4, saw 16 year old Massot deliver a truly inspired performance, storming his way from the middle of the grid to take a superb second place for his maiden podium and the rookie cup win. 15 year old Harrison meanwhile led early on, before slipping back a few positions after a bit of contact. The Oxford-based driver fought back well though to claim a top five finish and end a tough weekend on a high.
Team Principal Richard Ollerenshaw said: “Pepe's podium is just reward after a very tough weekend for the team, drivers and championship as a whole. There are definitely things that need looking at following this weekend with regard to some of the driving standards and what we've seen.
“There was no point at all running George for him to only then get a 20-point deduction from his championship total for using a spare car – that was unacceptable when the person who caused the accident faced nothing more than a nine point loss. It's disproportionate and not the way it should be and there wasn't any way around that unfortunately.
“Pepe and Nathan both gave outstanding drives in the second race, it would have been great to see Nathan on the podium with Pepe but it's not far away for him. The contact from Sennan Fielding took the edge off his pace, but overall we're happy with the way Sunday panned-out in the end, although Saturday was a day to forget.”