WALLACE CLAIMS TOP 12 ON GINETTA JUNIOR DEBUT AT SNETTERTON
Ginetta Junior Championship debutant Benjamin Wallace made a strong impact on his maiden outing in the category with Hillspeed at Snetterton 300 Circuit over the weekend, 2nd/3rd August, after claiming a top 12 finish in only his second race.
Originally scheduled to make his competitive bow in the high-profile series at Silverstone next month, the 14-year-old joined the Hathersage squad’s ranks for the start of the second half of the season and impressed with a particularly strong performance in race two of the weekend.
Hillspeed regular Harry Mailer bounced back from a challenging qualifying session, in which his car experienced a couple of technical issues, to post a season-best finish of 14th place in the opening encounter on Saturday. He backed that up with 15th position in round 12. Brazilian driver Pedro Cardoso, meanwhile, unfortunately missed the weekend’s action due to budget difficulties.
“We were chasing a couple of issues on Harry’s car following the last round at Croft, Ginetta have been working with us, but unfortunately everything wasn’t resolved for qualifying”, explained team principal Richard Ollerenshaw, “We bottomed out the problems for race one but he unfortunately made a mistake. Without that, I think he would have been challenging for the top 10.
“Benjamin has done a good job, up until Tuesday he had only done two days with us in a car and there wasn’t really a plan for him to do anything until the end of September. We’ve brought his programme forward by eight weeks, which is a massive step, but he drove very well in race two. To have a top 12 finish on his first weekend in competition at this level is very good.”
Mailer qualified 18th fastest for the opening race on Saturday, with Wallace 0.6 seconds shy in 19th spot, and at the start the former got away well from the line and managed to gain a place on the opening lap as Wallace held station.
Progressing into 16th position on lap two, Mailer was then edged back the next time around before the Safety Car was deployed due to an incident involving Jack Rawles. Disappointingly, no further racing was possible as the action ended under Safety Car conditions on lap six. Mailer ultimately finished in 14th position with Wallace taking 16th place.
Beginning the second encounter on Sunday from 18th and 19th places respectively, Mailer and Wallace made good gains on the first tour as others came to grief and climbed into 15th and 16th position where they remained for a couple of laps.
On lap three, Wallace managed to slingshot his way into 14th position ahead of Mailer and the series rookie continued his ascent up the order during the second half of the race to finish an excellent 12th in only his second Ginetta Junior race. Mailer was shuffled back to 16th position at mid-distance, but moved back into the top 15 and managed to just see off Flashman Finneran.
“Benjamin is doing three events to retain his Rookie status for next year – he’s going to be back out with us at Silverstone and then again for the finale at Brands and we’re really looking forward to working with him again”, added Ollerenshaw.
“Pedro’s deal remains in place and he has a car and entry for the rest of the season, but needs to address his budget issues before he can return to the UK to compete. Going on present discussions this appears to be unlikely, but we will see how things progress in the next few weeks.”
Next on the Ginetta Junior Championship calendar is the annual visit north of the border to Knockhill Circuit in Fife over the weekend 23rd/24th August. The weekend prior, 16th/17th August, Hillspeed’s BRDC Formula 4 Championship team will return to action at Silverstone Grand Prix Circuit.
2014 Ginetta Junior Championship Standings (after Rd12):
16th Pedro Cardoso, 76pts; 18th Harry Mailer, 53pts; 22nd Benjamin Wallace, 13pts
2014 Ginetta Junior Championship Team Standings (after Rd12):
6th Hillspeed, 152ptsMIXED WEEKEND FOR PAPANASTASIOU AT BRANDS HATCH INDY
Hillspeed’s Dimitris Papanastasiou experienced an event of mixed fortunes at his ‘home’ track Brands Hatch Indy Circuit over the weekend, 26th/27th July, with seventh place in round seven of the Protyre Formula Renault Championship followed by a frustrating non-finish in round eight.
After a solid drive in the opening encounter on Sunday which continued his excellent run of points-scoring consistency, the London driver made a slight mistake under braking for Paddock Hill Bend on lap four of race two which resulted in an instant retirement in the gravel trap.
Although frustrated to see his run of seven consecutive points finishes come to an end, the Greek racer still managed to hold on to his top eight position in the championship standings as the 2014 campaign hits the halfway stage.
“Race two was very unfortunate for Dimitris, he hadn’t put a wheel wrong all weekend up to that point”, said Hillspeed team principal Richard Ollerenshaw, “He was in a tight battle with a couple of cars ahead, was slightly unsighted going into the braking zone and just missed his braking point.
“Dimitris has been very consistent all season and he was competitive in qualifying again, before putting in a solid performance in race one. It’s a shame the way the weekend ended for him, but we’ve been pleased once again with his level of performance relative to the competition.”
Lapping with the eighth fastest time in the round seven qualifying session, Papanastasiou made a good start and put together a strong first lap to climb into seventh place. Following an early Safety Car period, racing resumed on lap six with the Hillspeed driver holding position and that’s where he remained to the finish on lap 27 during a pretty uneventful contest.
For round eight, the first year Protyre Formula Renault competitor lined up ninth on the grid and instantly started to pressure Tarun Reddy. Running tight behind the two cars ahead, at the start of lap four Papanastasiou just got his braking slightly wrong and the car immediately pitched round into the gravel on the outside of the turn.
Even with the unfortunate non-finish, the Hillspeed driver managed to stay three points ahead of closest championship rival TJ Fischer and goes into the fourth event of the season next month only six points outside seventh place in the standings.
Rounds nine, 10 and 11 of the Protyre Formula Championship season will take place at Snetterton 300 Circuit over the weekend 30th/31st August. Hillspeed, meanwhile, will be back in action with its Ginetta Junior Championship squad at the Norfolk track next weekend, 2nd/3rd August.
Provisional 2014 Protyre Formula Renault Championship Standings (after Rd8):
8th Dimitris Papanastasiou, 97pts