A pair of new rookie race-winners have changed the landscape in the 2014 Ginetta Junior Championship as the series heads to Oulton Park this weekend for its fourth meeting of the season.
Up until the visit to Thruxton five weeks ago, the early proceedings in the championship had been dominated by Jack Mitchell, the JHR Developments racer winning the first four races in a row.
Just as comparisons were being drawn to 2013 champion Harry Woodhead, who won ten consecutive races en-route to the title, Mitchell found himself dethroned around the high-speed Hampshire circuit.
It was Dan Zelos and Jamie Caroline who emerged from a pair of thrilling Thruxton encounters with their maiden car-racing victories, with a first lap retirement in race one and a last lap spin in race two denting Mitchell’s momentum.
The Airwaves Racing-backed driver will still head to Oulton as the man to beat though as he aims to extend his 36 point championship lead. The Cheshire-based circuit is a happy hunting ground for him too, having taken his maiden outright Ginetta podium finish there twelve months ago.
Mitchell’s closest challengers in the points standings are Ryan Hadfield and Ben Pearson. As other second year drivers have hit trouble, the R&J Motorsport pairing have been consistent front-runners so far. With a pair of podium finishes each, both will be targeting a maiden win at Oulton.
One driver who needs a win though is reigning Winter Series champion James Kellett. With a 73 point shortfall to Mitchell in the standings after a tough start to the season, the HHC Motorsport driver knows he needs to get himself back on the top step of the podium soon.
Similarly, Jamie Chadwick also knows that her hopes of challenging for the title rests on getting some big points hauls on the board over the next couple of meetings. After two top five results at Thruxton, she’ll be aiming to add to her two podiums so far this weekend.
The Thruxton victories for Caroline and Zelos mean they now lead the rookie contenders in the championship, with both up into the top five of the overall standings. Caroline has three consecutive podiums to his name, and both will be aiming to maintain their momentum at Oulton.
They haven’t been the only standout rookies so far this season though, with Lando Norris and Jonathan Hadfield also standing out from the crowd.
HHC’s Norris took a pair of second places at Donington Park, and a maiden race victory is certainly on the cards soon. Hadfield meanwhile had a tough Thruxton weekend, but the R&J Motorsport racer has shown superb raw pace en-route to three top six finishes so far.
Alongside those nine, a host of other drivers including William Taylforth, Jack Rawles, Alex Sedgwick and Matt Chapman have carded top ten finishes, meaning we’re set for two more ultra-competitive Ginetta Junior encounters in Cheshire.
The weekend starts with free practice at 09:05 on Saturday, with qualifying following that afternoon at 14:50. Both races will take place on Sunday for a change, with Round Seven at 13:02 and Round Eight closing the weekend’s racing at 17:45.