To say that the Ginetta Junior Championship paddock will look different this season is certainly an understatement, as the series prepares to head into a new era.
The suspension of JHR Developments last year and the decision by HHC Motorsport to miss 2018 means that the championship is now missing its two biggest teams.
Those two outfits have defined the championship in recent history, sharing the last six drivers’ titles between themselves, with HHC leading the way four to two.
Charlie Robertson (2012), Harry Woodhead (2013), Jamie Caroline (2015) and Will Tregurtha (2016) were victorious for HHC, while JHR housed Jack Mitchell (2014) and Tom Gamble (2017).
On top of their duopoly over the titles, from the drivers finishing in the top three of the championship standings since 2012, only five out of eighteen didn’t come from HHC or JHR.
Their exit from the series has therefore left a huge void in the paddock, while fellow series stalwarts Douglas Motorsport have not yet confirmed whether they have an entry planned this year.
In their absences, it’s Elite Motorsport who have currently stepped up to assume the position as the championship’s most populated team to continue their rise up the ranks.
After joining the series as a single-car entry in 2015, the team won their first races with Harry King in 2016 and would grow rapidly in size across last season.
At its peak, the squad ran no less than eight cars at Rockingham, and would also play a hand in Gamble’s title victory, having run him for the final three meetings after JHR’s suspension.
Elite have confirmed a six car entry for 2018, led by podium finisher Adam Smalley, while another team to increase their line-up for the new season is Richardson Racing.
Making their series debut last season, the team led a primarily single-car entry for Luke Browning and broke into the top six by the end of the year.
Buoyed by their positive introduction to the series, the team are back with a three car squad and with Browning, could well find themselves in the title mix in only their second season.
Alongside those two, Total Control Racing are returning to the series after a season away with a multi-car entry, while WDE Motorsport have added an entry alongside their Clio Cup commitments.
Losing your two biggest teams would be a blow to any series, but if Ginetta can continue to attract new teams and welcome back former faces, then they look likely to bounce back strongly.
A new era has begun in the championship, but regardless of who is in the paddock, the teenage racers are sure to continue producing some fantastic racing throughout 2018.