Jack Mitchell has been the star of the show in the first half of the 2014 Ginetta Junior Championship, six wins in the first ten races giving him a seemingly unassailable lead at the front of one of the toughest grids in the championship’s history.
From a boosted grid of around twenty cars per meeting, it has been JHR Developments’ Mitchell who has been a class above the rest, following in the footsteps of former champions Seb Morris and Harry Woodhead who both dominated the first half of their title-winning campaigns.
Mitchell started the season in particularly majestic fashion, shocking the rest of the paddock with his dominance as he took the first four wins in a row, drawing comparisons to the winning streak of reigning champion Woodhead twelve months previous in the process.
His hopes of matching, or beating, Woodhead’s ten wins in a row were deflated with a tough outing at Thruxton though, but he bounced back with two more wins at Oulton and a double podium at Croft, giving him a huge 93 point lead at the top of the standings.
Pre-season, the driver many expected to dominate the series was not Mitchell, but James Kellett. The reigning Rookie Cup and Winter Series champion had the momentum heading into the campaign, but suffered a slow start to proceedings with only one podium in the first six races.
Performances have picked up for the HHC Motorsport racer since then though, with a pair of second places at Oulton Park followed by a first win of the season at Croft. Despite those results though, Kellett still sits 102 points behind Mitchell in the standings and has some ground to make up.
Like Kellett, Jamie Chadwick was another driver hoping to be much closer to the summit of the standings than she is at the halfway mark of the season. The 2013 Ginetta Scholar has been plagued with bad luck and contact, but has shown her pace with two podiums and a first race win can’t be far off.
Kellett and Chadwick’s troubles mean it is currently Ryan Hadfield who sits as Mitchell’s closest challenger in the standings. The 17 year old has been consistent if unspectacular so far this season, finishing in the top eight in every race and collecting three podium finishes along the way.
Hadfield is running with family outfit R&J Motorsport, who are having an impressive first season in the Juniors. His team-mate Ben Pearson is currently sitting fourth having shown flashes of his potential with two podium finishes, though he has regularly got caught up in thick of the action and only finished in the top six in half the races.
Alongside the second-year racers, the opening half of the season has also introduced the fans to the latest breed of talented car-racing newcomers, with the stand-out rookie drivers so far being Lando Norris, Jamie Caroline and Dan Zelos.
Norris headed into the season with a lot of buzz around him, and the 14 year old has certainly impressed so far. After leading for the first time and taking his first podiums at Donington, the HHC racer starred at Croft with a maiden win and currently sits in the championship top six.
The first rookie to take a race win though was Dan Zelos, who ended his JHR team-mate Mitchell’s winning streak at Thruxton. He followed up that win with another podium in Hampshire, and is level on points with Norris after returning to the podium at Croft.
The Thruxton weekend featured a pair of rookie winners, with the other being Jamie Caroline. The win came during a superb four-race podium streak from the Total Control Racing ace, and were it not for a disqualification and two retirements he’d be further up the points leaderboard.
Not quite able to match his fellow rookies’ race-winning feats so far, but enjoying a strong maiden Junior campaign is the Ginetta Scholarship winner Alex Sedgwick. Running with JHR, the 15 year old took a maiden Rookie Cup win and best finish of fifth overall at Oulton.
In the midfield, Jonathan Hadfield has threatened a maiden podium en-route to six top seven finishes, while Jack Rawles came agonisingly close with a best finish of fourth. Both currently sit in the championship top ten.
William Taylforth, formerly of HHC, and his new Total Control Racing team-mates Matt Chapman and Pedro Cardoso have been regular top ten finishers meanwhile, while JHR’s Senna Proctor starred last time out at Croft with a fifth place finish.
While a Mitchell title win seems like a foregone conclusion at the moment, Hadfield, Kellett and co will be aiming to close the gap and put the points leader under pressure over the final ten races.
As well as the title battle, the likes of Hadfield, Chadwick, Pearson and Rawles have maiden Junior victories in their sights, and with a field of twenty young chargers aiming to impress, the series is sure to produce more thrilling races in the second half of the season.
Provisional 2014 Ginetta Junior Championship Standings (After Rd.10 of 20):
|1||Jack Mitchell||JHR Developments||295|
|2||Ryan Hadfield||R&J Motorsport||202||-93|
|3||James Kellett||HHC Motorsport||193||-102|
|4||Ben Pearson||R&J Motorsport||173||-122|
|5=||Lando Norris||HHC Motorsport||171||-124|
|5=||Dan Zelos||JHR Developments||171||-124|
|7||Jamie Caroline||Total Control Racing||153||-142|
|8||Jamie Chadwick||JHR Developments||150||-145|
|9||Jack Rawles||Tollbar Racing||128||-167|
|10||Jonathan Hadfield||R&J Motorsport||119||-176|
|11||William Taylforth||Total Control Racing||112||-183|
|12||Alex Sedgwick||JHR Developments||108||-187|
|13||Senna Proctor||JHR Developments||90||-205|
|14||Matt Chapman||Total Control Racing||88||-207|
|19||Tom Parker||Team Dynomite||38||-257|
|21||Tom Brown||Tollbar Racing||17||-278|