Jamie Caroline has taken a dominant first victory of the 2015 Ginetta Junior Championship season in an action-packed opening race of the weekend at Oulton Park.
Rookie Dave Wooder started Round Seven from pole position after a star performance in qualifying, but a better launch from the front row from Caroline gave the reigning Winter Series champion the lead through Old Hall.
Wooder initially settled into second place ahead of Dan Zelos, the fast-starting Kyle Hornby, Senna Proctor and Sophia Floersch, however the poleman’s challenge didn’t last long as a mechanical issue forced him to slow down and eventually pull off into retirement on the opening lap.
As the pack worked their way past the slowing Wooder, Caroline was able to streak into a 3.2 second lead at the front by the end of lap one and the HHC Motorsport man would only go on to extend it as the race wore on, eventually taking the victory by 8.693s, the biggest winning margin of the season so far.
“I got the jump on Dave [Wooder] at the start, just managed to get ahead through the first corner and managed to get a gap then,” reflected the victor. “From then on it was about getting in the qualifying times and building the biggest gap I could.
“It’s been too long since a win, and I can’t remember a win feeling this good, I don’t know how to describe it. I’m delighted, and it puts me back into title contention.”
Zelos would go on to run second from start to finish for his second podium finish of the year so far, with the race’s action coming in the fight for the final podium position and beyond.
Early occupier Hornby’s charge was hampered by a dislodged bonnet on the opening lap, the R&J Motorsport man eventually slipping back to a sixteenth place finish. This promoted Proctor into the position, though he was soon under challenge from Jonathan Hadfield.
The Donington Park race-winner had produced a stunning opening lap and a half to climb from eleventh on the grid to sixth, before an opportunistic move at the hairpin as Stuart Middleton and Floersch ran wide promoted him to fourth.
By the next lap Hadfield was right on Proctor’s tail, with Middleton joining in the battle until a nudge from Lewis Brown at the hairpin on lap four span the Scholarship winner around. That freed up Hadfield to make his move on Proctor at Lodge later in the lap.
Floersch got ahead of championship leader Proctor on lap six, with the three way fight for third going on to be settled on the final lap. Contact from Floersch on Hadfield at the hairpin spun the latter around, with Proctor diving past both to secure a fifth podium of the year in third.
Floersch took fourth ahead of Brown, with Hadfield able to recover to sixth at the flag. Billy Monger picked up seventh place ahead, with Matt Chapman eighth despite a couple of off track moments late on.
Alex Day secured a first top ten finish of the campaign after a climb from nineteenth on the grid to ninth, while Middleton fought back from his earlier incident to complete the top ten ahead of Will Tregurtha, who himself had to recover from a high speed spin at Cascades.
Patrik Matthiesen took twelfth, despite the Dane being spun around on lap six at the hairpin after a misjudged move by Geri Nicosia on Frank Bird for tenth position ended in contact – an incident that forced Bird into retirement from the top ten and left Nicosia with a heavily damaged front end.
JHR Developments trio Rowan Bailey, Esmee Hawkey and Sebastian Perez completed the top fifteen, Perez being another to spin after contact at the hairpin during the race, whilst the fourteenth place finish was the best result of the season so far for Hawkey.
Nicosia’s battle scared Elite Motorsport G40 took the flag in seventeenth behind Hornby, with Will Stacey and Ben Green completing the finishers.
Full race results can be found here.