Jack Mitchell has moved a big step closer to wrapping up the 2014 Ginetta Junior Championship title after taking a crucial victory in a characteristically thrilling opening race at Silverstone.
Mitchell’s chief title rival James Kellett and Dan Zelos led the race over the first half of the race, but contact between the two allowed Mitchell to storm past for a long-awaited seventh win of the campaign.
Kellett had started the race from pole position, but the fast-starting Zelos seized the advantage heading into Copse for the first time. Kellett slotted into second ahead of Mitchell, Ben Pearson and Alex Sedgwick, while Lando Norris was the main first lap casualty with a shove wide dropping him to fourteenth.
The top two briefly broke away at the front of the field, but Mitchell soon closed on them and brought the pack with him. With Kellett sensing he was coming under pressure, the HHC Motorsport racer made an attack for the lead.
A robust pass down the inside at Brooklands got him the spot, dislodging his bonnet in the process. Zelos maintained second ahead of JHR Developments team-mate Mitchell, while Jamie Caroline had worked his way up to fourth behind after a great run from tenth on the grid.
Zelos aimed to fight back a handful of laps later, however a slight nudge into the rear of Kellett into Copse slowed them both up. This allowed Mitchell and Caroline to storm through into the top two spots through Becketts, though Caroline would slip back to fourth a lap later.
On the penultimate lap, the battle ended in tears when contact from Caroline span Zelos around at Becketts, contact that allowed Mitchell and Kellett to move away and fight on their own for the lead.
Kellett got alongside the leader on the run to Brooklands, but Mitchell held onto the spot and fended off Kellett’s attentions on the final lap as well to take the victory by just over a tenth of a second.
“I was aiming for a top four in that one, but we had a bit of luck with contact ahead which allowed me to get the lead. I had so much pressure from behind at the end, but I kept my cool and got the win,” Mitchell told TCF.
“It’s helped me out for the next race now, the pressure is off a bit as I don’t have to win the race now to win the championship.”
The aforementioned penultimate lap contact blew the fight for the final podium spot wide open, with Jamie Chadwick emerging from the melee in third – the JHR racer delighted to take her fifth podium of the season having sat down in seventh only four laps from the end.
“It all started kicking off in front, and I knew that if I kept my nose clean something might come off for me,” commented Chadwick. “I decided with a few laps to go that I needed to start attacking, and it all unfolded from there.
“I can’t tell you how I got to third as I don’t know, but I’m just really happy to be back on the podium.”
Jonathan Hadfield took fourth, his best result of the season so far, while Norris fought back from his lap one drama to finish up fifth. Pearson secured his seventh top six finish of the season behind, with Sedgwick left to settle for seventh after losing ground in the middle stages.
Lewis Brown secured a season-best eighth, with a frustrated Zelos and Ryan Hadfield completing the top ten ahead of Caroline, who took fifth on the road, but was handed a five second penalty for exceeding track limits post-race, as well as a penalty of three license points, twelve championship points and a ten place grid drop for race two for his earlier contact with Zelos.
Alongside Caroline, Benjamin Wallace also got a five second track limits penalty, leaving the Hillspeed racer in fourteenth in the classified results behind team-mate Harry Mailer and Billy Monger. Matt Chapman, Esmee Hawkey and Flashman Finneran completed the finishers, with Senna Proctor and Jack Rawles failing to finish the action-packed race.