The sun was out during a spectacular Ginetta media day at Brands Hatch. The event saw Adam Smalley lead the standings in the Juniors category setting a precedent for the year.
Smalley and his Elite Motorsport team, topped three of the four sessions, with the odd hour coming in the morning when the final times turned out not to be representative of the overall order.
The opening session, was a chance mostly for the drivers to stretch their legs, with the experienced drivers heading the order. Fin Green led an Elite Motorsport 1-2 from Smalley and Matt Luff. The inaugural top rookie honours went to Jonny Wilkinson in fourth overall at the end of the first hour.
Smalley completed just 13 laps during the second session but still went top with a 56.908. His run was more impressive with second place Ruben Del-Sarthe unable to drop below the 57 second marker, despite completing over double the amount of laps.
Greg Johnson ended third with Ethan Hawkey the top rookie in fourth a result he’d repeat in the third session. Elsewhere, Wilkinson was forced back into the pits after he was black-flagged with minutes to go.
The third session saw Smalley, continue his strong run with Connor Garlick now beating Del-Sarte as best of the rest.
As the final hour-long session got underway, Smalley cemented his place at the top of the standings with a fastest lap of 57.167. While it did not beat his personal best from the second session, Smalley’s domination on three out of the four sessions will put him in a strong position before the opening round next month.
As the only other driver to find himself atop the time sheets, Green will come away as one of the key contenders. Also finishing inside the top three regularly was Del-Sarte. The Dutch driver comes into this year with TCR and in an outfit filled with rookies will be expected to take the challenge to the leaders, finshing second overall at the end of the day.
Speaking of rookies, it would be TCR’s own Hawkey who led the way of the newcomers. His consistent pace within the top five will be encouraging for many who will want to see a genuine rookie challenge for the title.
He was beaten by some experienced drivers though. Behind the leading Smalley and Del-Sarte, it would be Garlick who finished third overall, becoming the only driver in the top five to set his best time outside the second session. Fourth would be Johnson, with Hawkey and Luke Browning, who only appeared in the afternoon, rounding out the top six.