The all-action Ginetta Junior Championship will burst back into life this weekend (1/2 April) at Brands Hatch, with the latest batch of talented teenage racers ready to once again produce the most exciting racing on the BTCC support package.
An intriguing blend of series returnees and car-racing rookies will form the grid for the thirteenth running of the series – which has headline backing from Simpson Race Products again this year – with the blossoming entry headlined by the three leading rookies from last season.
Topping the pile is Daniel Harper and Seb Priaulx, the reigning Rookie Cup and Winter Series champions respectively, who both return to the grid targeting outright title glory with the team that guided them to their 2016 success, Douglas Motorsport and JHR Developments.
Priaulx heads into the new season aiming to become the third driver in five years to follow his Winter success by taking the main title the following season, having impressed last year with two pole positions and six overall podium finishes including a breakthrough win at Silverstone.
Harper meanwhile has his sights set on becoming the first ever Ginetta Junior Scholarship winner to go on and taste overall title success, having enjoyed the best ever season for a Scholar last year with two outright wins, fifteen Rookie class podiums and an overall top five championship finish.
Aiming to take on and beat those two this season will be Harry King, who showed just as much promise as he adversaries last season but didn’t walk away with a title trophy, though he did secure outright race wins at Snetterton and Rockingham within a handful of top three finishes.
King and Elite Motorsport will be trying to end a stranglehold on the series title by JHR and HHC Motorsport, with Hillspeed being the last team other than them to win the crown back in 2011. To do so though, they’ll have to overcome a formidable five car HHC entry, headed by their former driver Tom Wood.
Wood enjoyed an impressive maiden campaign with Elite, securing a pair of outright podium finishes, and he’s joined at HHC by another of the exciting Rookies from 2016 Jordan Collard, who picked up a breakthrough Rookie victory at Knockhill with TCR.
Tom Gamble is another driver to watch with JHR, having picked up eight Rookie podiums in fourteen races before a premature exit from the series last season. Connor Grady has his sights on the front of the grid as well with Douglas, having taken a first outright top three result last year.
The final two returning drivers from 2016 are Charlie Digby, who will mount his first full season challenge following a five weekend spell last season, and the ever-improving Greg Johnson who contested six rounds last year and has moved to Elite for the new campaign.
The list of drivers fighting for the Rookie Cup honours this year meanwhile is headlined by the reigning Scholarship winner Adam Smalley, who beat over fifty other drivers to secure a fully-funded season in the championship, which he will embark upon with the JHR team.
Last year, the top three drivers in the Rookie Cup were the same top three from the previous Scholarship event, and aiming for similar success alongside Smalley this year will be runner-up Matt Luff, who also enters the championship within the JHR ranks.
Also at JHR are Jenson Dineen and Harry Dyson, both of whom return to the Rookie ranks having contested selected rounds at the end of 2016, while other class entrants with Winter Series experience are Fox Motorsport pair Finley Green and Keaton Samra, plus HHC’s Ruben Del Sarte.
Completing the Rookie ranks are 2016 Junior Saloon Car Championship front-runner Luke Browning with new-to-the-series Richardson Racing, Douglas’ talented karting graduates Kiern Jewiss and Tom Canning, and experienced ice driver Scott McKenna with HHC.
The Ginetta Junior Championship will once again follow the BTCC to all ten race weekends this season, with the series once again sure to prove to be the most popular support package on the series courtesy of the fearless racing produced by the teenage talents.