James Kellett has taken the Ginetta Junior Championship title battle with Jack Mitchell to the final weekend of the season at Brands Hatch after taking victory in a sensational final race of the weekend at Silverstone.
A fast-starting Ben Pearson stormed through from fourth on the grid to take the lead from Dan Zelos into Becketts for the first time, those two fortunately clearing the corner before all hell broke loose behind.
A nudge on the rear of Jamie Chadwick from her JHR team-mate Senna Proctor sent her into the back of Jonathan Hadfield, spinning him around. That was the catalyst for chaos behind, with over half of the field involved in contact or forced wide in the melee. While most were able to continue, Chadwick was out of the race with damaged steering and she was joined in finishing her race early by fellow JHR racer Alex Sedgwick and Hillspeed’s Benjamin Wallace.
Pearson completed the opening lap out front from Zelos, Mitchell, Kellett and Lando Norris, while the main beneficiaries of the Becketts carnage were Jack Rawles and Flashman Finneran, moving up from 13th and 15th on the grid to sixth and seventh respectively.
After settling in that order for a lap, a phenomenal battle between the top five started to play out. A fired up Kellett, knowing he needed to gain places to keep the title battle alive, was the main man on the move, first passing title adversary Mitchell at Copse at the start of lap three.
Kellett’s next target was Zelos, and a slide wide for the second place man at Becketts on lap four allowed all three behind to squeeze past, with Norris also passing Mitchell to take third.
This allowed Norris and his HHC partner Kellett to launch a double-team assault on Pearson at Becketts a lap later. While Kellett was able to cleanly get past for the lead, Norris couldn’t. The rookie made another move at Copse at the start of lap six though, briefly nudging ahead, but a slide wide at Becketts dropped him to fourth.
This scrapping allowed Kellett to forge a gap at the front of the field, whilst it also brought Jamie Caroline into the podium fold, the Total Control Racing ace producing a strong drive to climb into the top six after starting 19th following a grid penalty for race one contact.
After a rare lap without a position change amongst them, a move from Norris into Copse on lap eight gave him third from Zelos, with Mitchell also following him through. Mitchell only held the spot for half a lap though, with Zelos and Caroline benefitting from a slow moment through Brooklands to demote the championship leader to sixth.
Norris was soon challenging for second, and after contact whilst running side-by-side with Pearson down the Wellington Straight, he was able to make the move stick, with Zelos seizing the opportunity to grab third.
The top three didn’t change anymore over the final two laps, despite the best efforts of Zelos on the final lap at Brooklands, with Kellett taking the win by 1.7 seconds over his team-mate Norris, their sixth one-two finish of the year, with Zelos taking podium number eight of the campaign behind.
Mitchell meanwhile was left to fight for fourth, and the Airwaves Racing-backed racer got the spot on the penultimate lap when a move from Caroline on Pearson at Becketts sent them both wide. It was short-lived though as Caroline took the place back at Brooklands on the final lap, but then on the run to the line, Caroline stamped on his brakes to give Mitchell fourth at the finish.
Despite the gift from his competitor, the fourth place wasn’t enough to secure Mitchell the title with a weekend to spare, but he’ll only need to gain one solitary point at the Brands Hatch finale to secure the prize.
Caroline ended up fifth then after his great drive through the field, with Pearson left to settle for sixth after looking for a long time like he might take a first podium finish since Thruxton in May.
Rawles took seventh, while Proctor recovered superbly from the first lap carnage to take eighth ahead of Billy Monger and Finneran, the latter securing a superb first top ten finish in the Juniors.
Ryan Hadfield and his brother Jonathan were next up, both nursing their cars home after receiving big hits on the first lap, with other drivers caught up in the melee Lewis Brown, Harry Mailer, Matt Chapman and Esmee Hawkey completing the finishers.