Harry Woodhead produced three superb race performances to win the 2012 ATL Fuel Cells Ginetta Junior Winter Series at Rockingham.
The three-race, one day championship saw main championship race-winners Oliver Chadwick and Andrew Watson take the opening wins, however victory in race three, coupled with two tremendous drives through from the back of the field, gave Woodhead the title.
In a close-fought qualifying session, Oliver Basey-Fisher, running with Douglas Motorsport for the first time, secured pole position for the opening race ahead of team-mate Watson and JHR Development’s Chadwick.
A superb start for Watson saw the Irishman leap into the lead heading into Deene for the first time, with Basey-Fisher falling to third behind Chadwick. Watson’s lead lasted a lap though as he ran wide at Deene on lap two, dropping him to third ahead of Woodhead, who had produced a stunning couple of laps to get up from eleventh on the grid into fourth.
The race was soon under the control of the safety car though after Piers Hickin ran wide into the gravel at Tarzan, completing a frustrating morning for the Hillspeed man after he hit the wall at Turn One in qualifying, Hickin deciding to sit out the remainder of the day.
At the restart, Watson got a superb launch out of the final corner and had passed Basey-Fisher before the line, before passing Chadwick into the lead at Deene. Once again his advantage didn’t last long though, a mistake at Brook seeing him slide into the gravel and out of the race.
This promoted Chadwick into the lead for the length of the start-finish straight, before contact from behind from Basey-Fisher sent them both wide, with Woodhead benefitting to take the lead from Palmer and Paterson, with Chadwick recovering to fourth and Basey-Fisher seventh.
The race was over soon after though, a nasty crash into the wall at turn one for Jack Finlay bringing out the red flag. With the result taken back a lap, Chadwick was given the race victory, with Basey-Fisher, who had fought back into fifth before the red flag, moved back up to second.
Woodhead, who thought he’d won the race, was dropped to third ahead fellow main championship drivers William Palmer and Scotsman Elliot Paterson. 2013 Ginetta Junior Scholarship winner Jamie Chadwick finished as the top rookie in sixth in her first ever car race, ahead of fellow rookies Jack Rawles, Ryan Hadfield, James Kellet and Martin Poole.
The best second fastest time in qualifying for Watson ensured the Irishman was on pole for race two, with Chadwick and Basey-Fisher once again in the top three. A great start for the pole-sitter saw him lead away, while a terrible getaway for Chadwick meant four cars headed into Deene side-by-side for second.
Palmer was the driver who emerged in front ahead of Basey-Fisher and Chadwick. Palmer held the place until the end of the lap, when a slow run out of the Brook chicane caused him to lose ground heading over the start-finish line.
As Palmer dropped to fourth, Woodhead benefitted most was Woodhead, who forced his way into second to complete a sensational start to the race, having started down in twelfth. His next target was race leader Watson, though by this stage the Douglas Motorsport driver had already pulled 4.7 seconds clear.
As Woodhead broke off in second, the battle for third continued behind, with Palmer getting the place at Tarzan at lap four. Basey-Fisher regained the advantage a lap later at Pif Paf, but on lap seven Palmer made the decisive move at Deene, with Basey-Fisher running wide and dropping to sixth.
Having no such drama was Watson, an utterly dominant win for the 17 year old seeing him win by 5.7 seconds. Woodhead completed his great drive through the field in second, with Palmer a hard-fought third.
Chadwick secured fourth, with Paterson taking fifth, snatching the race’s fastest lap on the final lap. Basey-Fisher finished a frustrated sixth, with Rawles finishing ahead of J.Chadwick as top rookie in seventh. Finlay and Hadfield completed the top ten.
With the race results from race two forming the grid for the final encounter, Watson started on pole from Woodhead, the latter heading into the race just two points behind Chadwick.
A fantastic getaway for Woodhead saw him lead into Deene for the first time, with Watson left defending from Palmer behind, though his race was to be ruined shortly afterwards as he received a ten second penalty for a jump start.
Knowing his only chance of winning would be to pass Woodhead and build a ten second lead over him, Watson quickly worked his way past at Deene on lap three, leaving Woodhead to defend from Palmer and Chadwick behind.
Watson set about building a lead, but his advantage didn’t last long, a mistake at Pif Paf seeing him run wide, promoting Woodhead into the lead, with Palmer also running wide, allowing Watson to recover into second, however a lap later another error cost him three more places.
At the front, Woodhead cruised to victory, securing the race win by 2.7s seconds and with it the championship. Chadwick took second to end up just three points adrift, while RPM Motorsport’s Paterson secured a first ever podium finish with third.
Palmer finished fourth to cement third in the points, with Douglas Motorsport duo Basey-Fisher and Watson completing the top six. J.Chadwick finished seventh to finish the series as the top rookie, with Rawles, Kellett and Finlay rounding out the top ten.
Provisional Final 2012 ATL Fuel Cells Ginetta Junior Winter Series:
- Harry Woodhead – 91 points
- Oliver Chadwick – 88 points
- William Palmer – 70 points
- Elliot Paterson – 67 points
- Oliver Basey-Fisher – 63 points
- Andrew Watson – 55 points
- Jamie Chadwick – 48 points
- Jack Rawles – 46 points
All Photos: Jakob Ebrey Photography