Dominic Pettit’s Dominant Motorsport squad more than lived up to its name at Donington Park over the weekend, 18th/19th July, with the Texaco Havoline Ginetta Championship rookie easing to a brace of very comfortable race wins.

As the first driver this year to win both rounds on any given race weekend, the Ginetta Junior graduate has certainly confirmed his place as a genuine threat to title rivals Mark Davies and Andrew Smith over the remainder of the 2009 season. Third position in round nine and second place in round 10 mean Davies leads the driver standings by 26 points.

Meanwhile, George Murrells secured his first ever category podium with a superb drive during the second outing, in which he also posted the fastest lap of the race.

Qualifying
During Saturday’s qualifying session it was Smith who led the way by securing pole position for rounds nine and 10 with laps of 1m21.584 seconds (86.36mph) and 1m21.668 seconds respectively.

Davies was second fastest to line-up alongside his main championship rival on the front row for the first race with Murrells third on the grid ahead of Pettit, Julian Barratt and Sean Huyton. Car racing debutant Matt Bell, younger brother of highly successful international GT racer Rob, posted an impressive 10th fastest time during his maiden Ginetta qualifying session.

For the round 10 grid, Smith was joined on row one by Pettit with Barratt and Davies third and fourth and Alex Dziurzynski and Murrells on row three.

Race one
Davies made a good start to round nine and looked as though he would be able to perhaps take the lead from Smith but the pole-man held on through Redgate with Murrells close behind the pairing in third place. Into Coppice, Davies nipped past Smith to lead but Pettit got a run on all of them along the Dunlop Straight and managed to seize first place at Goddards.

Further behind, a multi-car tangle at the Old Hairpin resulted in retirement for Russell McCarthy and Dziurzynski while also causing front-left damage to the car of unfortunate rookie Bell – the latter forced to pull out of the race after pitting.

The incident led to the appearance of the Safety Car but at the re-start on lap six, Pettit made a good getaway to pull away from Davies with Smith third and Barratt mounting a challenge on Murrells to grab fourth place at Redgate. Barratt really had the bit between his teeth and after shadowing Davies and Smith, he passed both into Goddards at the end of lap six to climb into second.

Pettit, meanwhile, continued to extend his advantage at the front and he would eventually take the chequered flag on lap 12 almost four seconds clear of his nearest rival.

On lap eight, second place went back the way of Davies after he produced a good move on Barratt into Redgate and the latter then slipped back one more spot when Smith grabbed third position into Goddards. Smith then completed a good final flourish by taking second from Davies at the last corner on the final tour, lap 12.

Fourth position went to Barratt, his best finish of the year, with Murrells taking fifth ahead of David Jackson after an incident at Goddards, just yards from the chequered flag involving Huyton and Freddie Hetherington where the latter’s car launched over the rear of Huyton’s Ginetta.

While Hetherington ended up in the gravel trap, Huyton managed to limp across the line in ninth place, mere 10ths of a second ahead of Emily Fletcher and just behind Harry Whale who was 12 seconds down on Andrew Richardson in seventh.

Winner Pettit said: “As soon as I managed to get clear of (Mark) Davies and (Andrew) Smith I planned to get into a rhythm, stick to my line and bring it home but then the Safety Car came. I wasn’t all that bothered about that though as I think I’ve probably experienced more Safety Cars than anyone else in the championship, as we haven’t had any in G20 this year.

“The re-start worked well, I had space to breathe, and then everyone started squabbling with each other so it helped me even more to pull out a big gap. The car felt good, we have had some problems with it losing power this year but we think we’ve solved that. “

Race two
With a damp track welcoming competitors ahead of round 10, there was an even start for front-row qualifiers Smith and Pettit although the pole-sitter held the inside line tightly running down to Redgate to maintain the lead. On the exit of the corner though, Smith ran wide which allowed Pettit to get a good run through into first place at Hollywood.

Smith then ran wide again at McLeans which opened the door for Barratt to take second but into Goddards, Smith hit back and then Davies followed him through to push Barratt back to fourth. Pettit, meanwhile, was serving up a repeat of his race one speed as he pulled well clear at the front.

At the end of lap two, Davies took second from his chief title rival while behind, McCarthy was the man on the move after getting ahead of Barratt and then Smith for third place as the race headed into the third tour. By the end of lap three, McCarthy had managed to get past Davies for second to seal an incredible couple of miles of racing for him.

While the battle for the second and third steps of the podium was fiercely contested, the fighting simply enabled Pettit to focus on making no mistakes and pressing on to a comfortable winning margin of just under six seconds at the chequered flag on lap 15.

By lap nine Davies was second ahead of McCarthy, Jackson, Smith and Murrells – the latter beginning to enjoy his decision to gamble on running slick tyres in the hope the track would dry sufficiently. As the only driver to weigh up the risk, Murrells’ bravery started to reap rewards which ended up with his biggest prize of the season, a maiden podium behind Davies.

As the race entered its closing stages, Smith dropped away more and more to an eventual seventh place result while Barratt was forced to retire on lap 12. Murrells, meanwhile, had better fortune and he took third from McCarthy at the Old Hairpin on the penultimate lap.

Fifth position went the way of the battling Huyton, a terrific recovery by the car racing newcomer following an enforced lap one excursion into the gravel at Redgate. Dropping him to the tail of the top 12, Huyton produced a climb back through the order certainly worthy of note. Dziurzynski, meanwhile, finished in sixth place ahead of Richardson, Smith, Hetherington and Jackson.

Speaking on his race two drive, Pettit said: “I think our performance this weekend is proof of what we’re capable of, especially as a team as we’re new to this championship. We’re doing a great job against teams with a lot of experience so that’s obviously good. After this weekend, there’s no reason I can’t catch the guys ahead in the championship.”

Murrells, reflecting on his maiden podium, commented: “It was a really fun race as I was the only driver on slicks. I think I was about 12th coming off the first corner and then, when the tyres came in, I was about two seconds quicker than everyone else which was great. If I can pick up a few more podiums this year, or even a win, it’d be amazing.”

Rounds 11 and 12 of the 2009 Texaco Havoline Ginetta Championship will take place four weeks from now over the weekend 15th/16th August at Silverstone in Northamptonshire.

Provisional 2009 Texaco Havoline Ginetta Championship Positions (after Rd10):
1st Mark Davies, 307pts; 2nd Andrew Smith, 281pts; 3rd Dominic Pettit, 230pts; 4th David Jackson, 174pts; 5th Sean Huyton, 141pts; 6th Alex Dzuirzynski, 126pts