Junior Formulae

Priaulx leads after exciting opening round

Harry Dyson and Tom Gamble impressed in the opening round of the 2017 Ginetta Junior championship, but it’s Sebastian Priaulx at the top of the standings after the first two races of the season.

With so many rookies entering the championship this season, a wet race to start the year was bound to throw up one or two surprises. Multiple drivers span during the race, including rookie Scot McKenna, who comes from an ice driving background.

McKenna’s spin brought out the safety car, which made two appearances during the race. The second came not long after it had returned to the pits, when Kiern Jewiss found himself stranded in the gravel.

Leaders Gamble and Priaulx managed to steer clear of any incidents early in the race. Priaulx started on pole, but a quick start from Gamble saw him demoted and having to fight against Harry King in third.

Between small mistakes from Gamble and the safety car periods, Priaulx was able to get back on the leader’s tail in the later stages of the race, just as the rain returned to the Brands Hatch circuit. The JHR Developments driver tried a move around the outside of Gamble late in the race, coming alongside the leader, but contact saw them both spin at the last corner of the race.

A devastated Gamble was sent into the gravel, whilst Priaulx was able to recover and finish the race fourth.

Dyson inherited the race win. After starting fourth, the rookie had lots of wheel spin off of the line and fell back down the order. He was able to recover and pass King for what was then third place just before the incident between Priaulx and Gamble.

Race two, and it was Priaulx vs Gamble again. This time, Gamble was on pole, but a move up the inside by Priaulx promoted him into the lead of the race. In dry conditions, there was no last minute mistake from Priaulx, and he crossed the line in first, nearly four seconds ahead of Gamble in second.

Elsewhere, there were plenty of small mistakes. Multiple drivers span, including Charlie Digby who’d finished the opening race of the season in seventh and had been challenging Dan Harper for the final podium position. The HHC Motorsport driver rejoined at the back of the pack, leaving Harper to go unchallenged for the podium position.

The biggest battle on track was between Harry King and Harry Dyson, fighting for fourth and fifth. The pair swapped places back and forth throughout the race, Dyson building up a small train as the group lost sight of the leaders. A small mistake saw the group leader run wide and drop down into seventh. He recovered to sixth by the end of the race, passing fellow rookie Smalley to take the rookie win.

It may not have been the perfect race for Dyson, but the 14 year old has definitely made a good impression as he leaves Brands Hatch second in the championship and the highest rookie. King takes third in the championship, whilst Gamble leaves round one eighth but, with 23 races left, there’s plenty of time for things to change.

Feature image credit: Caroline Rhea

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