2013 Ginetta Junior Scholarship winner Jamie Chadwick has told The Checkered Flag that we should expect the unexpected in the 2014 Ginetta Junior Championship, as she prepares to mount a title challenge in the hugely competitive BTCC supports series.
A bumper grid is forming for the tenth running of the one-make championship, with half a dozen returning drivers from 2013 joined by a group of talented rookies preparing for their first car-racing campaigns.
While Chadwick, her JHR Developments team-mate Jack Mitchell and Winter Series champion James Kellett head into the season expected to be the main front-runners, the 15 year old feels it will an open fight and expects some drivers to spring a surprise at the front of the field.
“I’m deciding to leave it until the first round at Brands until I really pick out sole competitors. I think obviously Mitchell and Kellett are expected to be at the front, but I don’t think you can base it on last season alone,” Chadwick told us at the annual Ginetta Media Day.
“I don’t think you can underestimate anybody as last season showed, there were some drivers winning races you’d have never expected to be and it will be the same again this season.”
In her Scholarship campaign last year, Chadwick was a regular top ten finisher from the opening race, breaking into the top six on a couple of occasions.
She went on to get her podium break during the end-of-season Winter Series at Snetterton, where she starred with a pair of pole positions and a couple of second place finishes over the weekend.
While she ultimately wanted more top-end results during the main campaign, the Gloucestershire-based racer is happy with the potential she showed and the lessons she learnt from her first season.
“We’ve had a long time to look back over the winter and I think we had a strong rookie season,” she reflected. “I learnt a lot, I gained a lot of experience in the car which was the most important thing and while we didn’t get all the results we wanted, looking back we learnt a lot more from the misfortune we did have.
“I personally knew that we should be towards the front in the Winter Series, but I never expected to be on pole. It was really nice to go there and get some good results, and show the pace we really had.”
Chadwicks heads into the new season as one quarter of an expanded JHR line-up, with fellow sophomore driver Jack Mitchell and rookies Dan Zelos and Alex Segdwick her team-mates, the latter being her successor as the Scholarship winner.
After benefitting from the guidance of her brother, category race-winner Ollie Chadwick during her maiden Ginetta campaign, Jamie is looking forward to passing on some tips to her new team-mates.
“Dan and Alex coming into it as rookies, I’ve been in that position and Ollie supported me a lot, so I’m looking forward to doing the same with them,” commented the BWRDC member.
“I’ve done some test days with them and they’ve improved massively, they’re going to be quick and they’ll both be ones to watch this season, and definitely in 2015. I really enjoy working with the pair of them.”
With previous Scholarship winners Louise Richardson, Sennan Fielding and Oliver Basey-Fisher having all become Ginetta title contenders in their second seasons, Chadwick admits she feels some pressure to achieve similar results heading into the new campaign.
While she is heading into the year focusing on continuing to learn as much as possible through the campaign, she does have one eye on mounting a championship challenge as well.
“I think we definitely have to be going in this year looking at winning the championship, we can’t go in with our hopes low. This year is a really competitive year for the Juniors and with such a big grid, it’s all going to be about consistency and picking up points every round,” she concluded
“There’s naturally a bit of pressure on me for a title push as a Scholarship winner and second year driver, but hopefully I’ll thrive off that. I’m going to go in focusing on my own performance, doing the best I can in every race to take as big a step forward as a driver as possible.”