Tom Gamble leads the way as the Simpson Race Products Ginetta Junior Championship prepares to bring an action-packed and dramatic first half of the 2017 season to a close at Croft this weekend (10/11 June).
Gamble heads to Yorkshire having topped the standings since the second meeting of the season at Donington Park, with four victories and two other podium finishes so far giving the second year contender a 31 point advantage at the top.
Despite failing to finish on the podium at Oulton, the first meeting this year in which he hadn’t done so, Gamble still left Cheshire with an extended points lead after chief rival Daniel Harper failed to maximise two front-row starts – both drivers taking a best finish of fifth.
Those two would also come to blows in the second race, with their incident earning Harper a five place grid penalty for the Croft opener. Despite this, he remains confident of adding to his five podiums so far around a circuit he finished in the top three at twice last year.
Looking to cement his status as a title contender this weekend will be Tom Wood, who lies two points adrift of Harper in the standings after being a consistent presence in the top five on his way to five podium finishes so far, though he is still chasing a maiden series victory.
Whilst Wood is moving into the title picture, Sebastian Priaulx has fallen away dramatically after it was announced he has been excluded from the Thruxton meeting over a technical infringement, with the subsequent 126 point penalty all but ending his championship charge.
Priaulx bounced back from that disappointment in stunning style at Oulton though as he set the pace in qualifying and stormed to a pair of dominant victories, and his focus is on doing the same this weekend after topping the timesheets in official testing at Croft last week.
With Harry Dyson joining his JHR Developments team-mate Priaulx and Matt Luff in being excluded from the Thruxton meeting, a new Rookie Class leader emerged at Oulton in Kiern Jewiss, who enjoyed his best weekend yet with two outright podium finishes.
Those results have not only given him the Rookie advantage, but also moved him up to joint fourth in the overall standings alongside Harry King, who has picked up a pair of second place finishes so far but has his sights firmly on getting back onto the top step of the podium.
Brands Hatch race-winner Dyson meanwhile will be determined to return to the top three this weekend, while two other drivers with realistic podium ambitions are Connor Grady and Adam Smalley, who have both taken best finishes of fourth this year.
Luke Browning became the latest driver to record a class podium finish in the close-fought Rookie category at Oulton Park, with Jenson Dineen, Keaton Samra and Finley Green next to try and join that club alongside the likes of Luff, Tom Canning and Ruben Del Sarte.
Jordan Collard, Charlie Digby and Greg Johnson complete the nineteen car entry, with the competitive nature of the Junior series proven by the fact all the active drivers have finished in the overall top ten this year, meaning almost anyone could steal the spotlight this weekend.
Full championship standings ahead of the meeting can be found here: http://tsl-timing.com/file/?f=TOCA/2017/172003ptsgij.pdf