Daniel Harper and Tom Wood have enhanced their 2017 Ginetta Junior Championship title aspirations after sharing the victories in three of the closest fought races in recent series history during the sixth meeting of the season at Snetterton.
An ultra-competitive qualifying session set the tone for some thrilling racing to follow, with Harper securing a first double victory of his Junior career on Saturday, before Wood went on to secure his maiden victory in the championship during the live-televised finale on Sunday.
Five drivers would be separated by less than two tenths of a second at the top of the timesheets in qualifying, with Kiern Jewiss emerging with the first pole positions of his Junior career ahead of his Douglas Motorsport stablemate Harper, Tom Gamble, Wood and Sebastian Priaulx.
Whilst Jewiss led away at the start of the opener, Harper would initially slip back to fifth as Priaulx and Gamble established themselves as the chief competition until contact between the team-mates sent Priaulx spinning and allowed Harper into second.
Right onto the tail of his team-mate, Harper would grab the lead for the first time at Agostini on lap four, but Jewiss got back ahead at Murrays a lap later, with their battling and the immense slipstream available at Snetterton bringing Gamble, Wood and Harry King into contention.
Gamble briefly nosed ahead as he, Harper and Jewiss ran three abreast across the line heading onto the final lap, with Harper emerging in-front. Jewiss made one last move for victory at Brundle, but a wide moment at Nelson gave Harper the run to victory.
Jewiss recovered well to finish second, with Wood just edging out Adam Smalley in a drag race to the line for the final podium position. King took fifth on the road, however a five second penalty for exceeding track limits lost him one position to Gamble, whilst Priaulx fought back well to seventh.
Championship leader Priaulx would have to mount another recovery drive in race two later that afternoon however, when first lap contact at the Bomb Hole whilst challenging Jewiss for the lead spun him down the order to fifteenth position.
Gamble would lead the early laps, with Jewiss hot on his heels as Harper and Wood initially scrapped for third behind, however that changed on lap five as a wide moment for Gamble coming out of Agostini promoted Jewiss back into the lead ahead of Harper and Jordan Collard.
Jewiss looked like he got the break he needed on lap six as it all changed behind with Harry Dyson and Gamble gaining ground, however there would be drama on the penultimate lap as a challenge for the lead by Gamble at Coram led to wild spins for the top two.
Dyson would assume the lead and hold it until the chequered flag, however a fifteen second track limits time penalty would drop him to sixth, promoted Harper into an unexpected second win of the day, with Smalley benefitting from the late drama to take a first outright podium.
A sensational charge through the field for Priaulx ended with third ahead of Connor Grady, Jewiss, Dyson and Gamble. Collard was eighth after last corner contact from Wood dropped him out of fourth, with a pair of time penalties for Wood demoted him to ninth in the end.
Harper would line up on pole position for his pursuit of a historic hat-trick victory in race three, however a quick launch for fellow front-row starter Smalley saw him lead a Ginetta Junior race for the first time, albeit only until lap two as Jewiss switched back superbly at Riches.
As those two battled for the lead in the first half of the race, a fierce battle behind saw Harper, Priaulx, Gamble, Wood and King battling it out for the final podium position, with Gamble and Wood breaking clear before together to close the gap to the leading duo.
After Smalley lose out to those two at Agostini on lap six, the top three positions would then remarkably stay the same until the final lap when Wood pulled off two stunning around the outside moves at Agostini and then the Bomb Hole to secure his maiden series victory.
Jewiss took the flag just seven hundredths of a second adrift for his eighth second place finish of the season so far, with Gamble completing the podium. Smalley emerged from a frenetic battle behind to take fourth ahead of Harper, King, Luke Browning, Priaulx and Grady.
That result marked Browning’s second Rookie podium finish of the campaign, with Jewiss and Smalley having taken the class victories across the weekend. Isa Deen took a best finish of fifteenth on his debut, while Finley Green peaked in twelfth after switching from Fox to JHR.
Full race results can be found here: http://tsl-timing.com/file/?f=TOCA/2017/173003gij.pdf