When we look back in the history books at the 2013 Ginetta Junior Championship, the statistics will show a dominant title-winning, record-matching campaign for Harry Woodhead – But it’s fair to say that’s only part of the story, with 2013 proving to be a real season of two halves.
The first half of the season was all about Woodhead. The 15 year old was in mesmerising form, winning all ten races out of ten, securing nine pole positions and six fastest laps en-route, leading a total of 87 racing laps of the 98 contested.
After the summer break it was a different story though, with Woodhead’s rivals bringing the battle to the runaway championship leader.
The reigning Winter Series champion would only go on to add one more race win to his tally, a hard-fought success at Knockhill, equalling Seb Morris’ championship record for wins in a season.
A podium finish in every race though meant that he still wrapped up the title with two weekends to spare, ending the season with 18 podiums in 18 contested races.
Woodhead’s success ensured his HHC Motorsport team successfully defended the driver’s title won with Charlie Robertson a year ago, with his dominance also playing a big hand in them securing the team’s championship as well.
Helping them to the crown also was Will Palmer, the second year driver being one of his team-mate’s main rivals at the front of the field. The 16 year old battled for the race wins throughout the season before finally taking a long-awaited maiden success at Rockingham in September, that win being added to nine other podium finishes en-route to third in the standings.
Both the HHC drivers were outshined over the second half of the season by Keith Donegan though. The Irishman had taken five podiums in the first ten races, but seemed to find a new lease of life after the summer break.
Wins at Snetterton and Knockhill were followed by a dominant double on the penultimate weekend at Silverstone, with three further podiums allowing him to comfortably grab the vice-champion spot from Palmer.
Alongside Woodhead, the driver highly tipped pre-season as an early championship favourite was Ollie Chadwick.
Things didn’t go the JHR racer’s way in a frustrating third and final campaign in the Junior series though, with driver errors and mechanical misfortune robbing him of a couple of chances to break Woodhead’s early streak.
Results picked up later in the season though, with the 17 year old completing his Junior career in style with a double victory on the final weekend at Brands Hatch GP, a total of nine podium finishes for the season giving him fourth in the championship.
The final second year driver battling at the front of the pack was Tom Jackson. Running with the Junior Race Car Academy, Jackson carded four podium finishes during a consistent campaign. The 17 year old ultimately wanted more in his final Junior campaign, with a maiden win eluding him, but his strong season meant he finished just 15 points off the championship top three.
Behind the battle for championship honours between the second year races, there was also the equally hard-fought fight for top rookie status, with a trio of series newcomers standing out in their maiden seasons of car-racing.
Topping the pile was James Kellett, the 15 year old being the stand-out rookie from the off. A fastest lap in the opening race of the season was followed by becoming the first rookie to take a podium and a pole position at Donington Park and Rockingham respectively, the latter he converted into a maiden win that helped him to sixth overall, and top rookie, in the championship.
The first rookie to grab a race win though was Jack Mitchell. After battling in the top six over the first half of the season, notching a podium at Oulton Park en-route, Mitchell burst into the limelight with a superb win at Snetterton. Two further rostrum finishes guided him to seventh in the points.
A rookie who deserved to grab an overall podium over the season, but didn’t quite get the rub of the green to do so, was Jamie Chadwick. The Scholarship winner got quicker and quicker as the season went on, developing her racecraft throughout, ending the campaign with a best finish of fifth overall at Knockhil..
While the dominance of Woodhead means the eighth running of the Ginetta Junior Championship might not go down as a racing classic, it was another strong season for the Junior series.
While its graduates are set to progress into GT and single-seater racing, there’s a group of hungry rookies set to return next season and battle it out for the 2014 title.
Final 2013 Ginetta Junior Championship Standings:
1. Harry Woodhead – 609pts
2. Keith Donegan – 475pts
3. Will Palmer – 406pts
4. Ollie Chadwick – 394pts
5. Tom Jackson – 390pts
6. James Kellett – 365pts
7. Jack Mitchell – 334pts
8. Ben Pearson – 257pts
9. Jack Rawles – 240pts
10. Jamie Chadwick – 221pts
11. Ryan Hadfield – 212pts
12. Josh White – 176pt
13. Connor Mills – 58pts
14. Jon Hadfield – 56pts
15. James Webb – 52pts
16. William Taylforth – 40pts
17. Tom Brown – 32pts
18. Elliott Paterson – 12pts