Priaulx defends championship lead in difficult Snetterton weekend

Sebastian Priaulx extended his championship lead ahead of Tom Gamble after a difficult weekend at Snetterton for the Ginetta Junior points leader.

Dan Harper took two wins in the sixth round of the championship, with Tom Wood picking up his first victory of the season in the final race of the weekend.

Rookie Kieren Jewiss took pole for the first two races, with team-mate Harper starting alongside him for the opening race. After briefly dropping to fifth on the opening lap, Harper recovered to challenge Jewiss for the race lead. The pair swapped positions back and forth over the course of the seven laps, but it was Harper in front when they reached the chequered flag.

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Behind them, Harry King, Gamble, Wood, Harry Dyson, and Adam Smalley were all battling for the final step on the podium. Wood beat Smalley in a drag race to the chequered flag to take his sixth podium of the season.

Points leader Priaulx could only manage seventh after spinning on the second lap. He had been battling with Jewiss and Gamble at the front of the field when he made contact with Gamble. The JHR Developments driver span, dropping to 13th before slowly recovering to seventh.

There was a chance for redemption in race two, when he started second alongside Jewiss. But a spin on the opening lap of the race once again dropped Priaulx towards the back of the field.

Gamble took the race lead on the opening lap, but Jewiss, Harper, Wood, Jordan Collard, and Smalley were all looking to take the top step of the podium. The championship contender defended well, but lost the lead to Jewiss at the midpoint of the race.

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On the penultimate lap, Gamble attempted to move back past Jewiss, but the pair collided and both were sent into the grass.

Gamble received penalty points for the incident and lost six championship points.

The battle for the race win was still on and, after plenty of jostling, Dyson crossed the line first after starting ninth. But the rookie was handed a 10 second penalty after the race for exceeding track limits.

Harper inherited the race win, ahead of Smalley in his first visit to the podium this season.

“It was brilliant,” Harper told Overtake Motorsport. “I didn’t really know I’d won it until I came into the pits but it was a very good race. Very exciting to watch and, for me, a good drive.

“I was in second and going for the lead when I was hit at the back at the hairpin, so I dropped a few places, and then I thought the podium was gone.

“But when I saw the two leaders have a bit of contact and spin off I was all ready to go again and fight for the win.”

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Sebastian Priaulx completed the podium.

After finishing the first lap 15th, the championship leader battled through the order to join the fight at the front of the field in the closing stages of the race. He finished just two tenths of a second behind Smalley.

In the final race of the weekend, Jewiss looked set to take his first Ginetta Junior victory after jumping from fifth on the grid to the race lead by the end of lap two.

The rookie then spent the rest of the race leading a seven car battle at the front of the field. He held off attacks until the final lap of the race, when Wood snatched the lead on under the bridge.

Wood took victory, his first of the season, whilst Jewiss finished just seven hundredths of a second behind in second.

“It was an absolutely amazing race,” Wood said.

“I don’t know how I did it, to take two people on the last lap, but it paid off around the outside of the hairpin and it paid off under the bridge.”

Championship contender Gamble took third whilst Priaulx finished eighth after dropping down the order at the start of the race.

Image credit: Caroline Rhea

 

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