Jake Cook - SnettertonDouble pole position starter Jake Cook concluded his faultless Snetterton weekend in the best way possible today, Sunday, 2nd August, by taking a pair of outstanding – and largely unchallenged – race victories during rounds 11 and 12 of the Ginetta Junior Championship with Henderson Insurance.

Appearing to be in a class of his own during qualifying at the 1.95-mile Norfolk track on Saturday, the TJ Motorsport racer didn’t put a wheel wrong in either of today’s encounters as he continued his superb form to seal a perfect haul of pole positions, race wins and fastest laps. Earning a maximum 74 points towards his championship total, Cook is very much back in the thick of the 2009 title race.

Reflecting on his incredible weekend, the 16-year-old said: “It’s been a perfect weekend, two fastest laps, two wins and two poles – it couldn’t have been much better. I knew I’d been quickest here all weekend, I took pole position by half a second, but I didn’t want to get complacent in the races as I knew it’d be much harder to break the tow along the back straight – it’s so hard to do in these cars.

“I didn’t get as good a start as I wanted in the first race, plus I couldn’t see very well as I had mud all over the windscreen and the wipers didn’t work, but a couple of laps in I managed to make the break. The second race was good again and I made a better start. The Safety Car meant I had to do it all over again but everything worked out. I’m really happy.”

At the beginning of round 11, Cook didn’t get away from the grid as well as he wanted but he still managed to fend off Mitchell Hale and as soon as he got into his stride, there was no stopping Cook as he scorched to a winning margin of almost three seconds.

The opening lap proved to be nothing short of a disaster for title contender Alex Austin who, from a lower than expected ninth on the grid, had a spin which dropped him to last place. He eventually finished in 11th position.

During the early exchanges, Hale ran in second ahead of Chris Swanwick, Aaron Williamson, Carl Stirling and Sarah Moore but the latter moved up to fifth on lap three after Stirling had a moment during the early part of the lap.

Then, on the fifth tour, it was Hale’s turn for some misfortune as a spin at the Esses dropped him down the order. Worse luck followed for Hale when Adam Bonham had a spin at the Bomb Hole, costing both drivers valuable time. So, on lap six, Cook led by a clear margin at the front with Swanwick second, Williamson third and Moore fourth.

Moore pressured Williamson all the way to the chequered flag on lap nine as she strived for her first podium since the Oulton Park event at the end of May. In the end though, she just missed out by a mere 0.123 seconds. Louise Richardson came home in fifth place ahead of Thomas Howard, Shane Stoney, the recovering Hale, Jake Rattenbury and David Moore.

Round 12 produced another masterclass from Cook and although Hale started well, there was nothing he could do about the outcome. As in race one, things didn’t go smoothly for Hale when a gearbox problem on the final lap robbed him of a fine second place and dropped him to eighth at the chequered flag, just ahead of Rattenbury and Stirling and behind Stoney.

During the early stages, Cook, Hale and Swanwick ran in the top three positions while the fight over fourth place between Williamson, Sarah Moore and Austin intensified by the lap. On the fourth tour at Riches, however, Austin tried to usurp Moore but the pair ended up touching and spinning into the path of the unfortunate Stirling who was caught-up in the aftermath.

Following a short two lap Safety Car period, racing resumed on lap seven and Cook dealt with the pressure well by pulling away to an eventual winning margin on lap 10 of three seconds. Swanwick finished in second place, once again ahead of Williamson, with Howard taking fourth ahead of Moore siblings Sarah and David.

Richardson, who was a strong fifth after the Safety Car, was pitched into a spin on lap seven through no fault of her own and she ended up down in 11th place, a disappointing end to the weekend after looking well on course for another impressive finish.

Double second place finisher Swanwick commented: “It’s been a good weekend for us, I’m just trying to consistently move up towards the top end of the championship so these two podiums are obviously great. I’m really happy with the way the weekend has gone for us.”

Williamson, who enjoyed two top three results, added: “We wanted two podiums this weekend and we managed it so that’s important. In the second race I did struggle a little bit but when Mitch’s (Hale) gearbox went I was able to take third place.”

In terms of the championship, Sarah Moore leads by an increased margin but her closest challengers have bunched up significantly with Williamson now second, 12 points shy of the lead, and Cook moving up into the top three a further 12 points behind. Austin, who started the weekend only a single point adrift of Moore, has slipped to fourth and is now 33 points away from the top spot.

Knockhill in Scotland will host the next event on the Ginetta Junior Championship calendar just two weeks from now, 15th/16th August. Rounds 13 and 14 of the season will take place at the Fife venue as part of the annual visit north of the border of the British Touring Car Championship package.

Provisional 2009 Ginetta Junior Championship with Henderson Insurance Positions (after Rd12):
1st Sarah Moore, 273pts; 2nd Aaron Williamson, 261pts; 3rd Jake Cook, 249pts; 4th Alex Austin, 240pts; 5th Thomas Howard, 190pts; 6th Mitchell Hale, 183pts

Photo by Jakob Ebrey Photography.