Ginetta Junior PodiumRound 18 of the Ginetta Junior Championship with Henderson Insurance served up yet another twist in this fantastically action packed season at Rockingham today, Sunday, 20th September, with Sarah Moore taking her fifth win of the year to open up a substantial 24 point margin in the title race.

While Moore and her family-run Tockwith Motorsport team celebrated getting their title bid back on track, for chief championship rival Jake Cook the second encounter at the Northamptonshire circuit proved to be a disaster when contact ruled him out of proceedings on the opening lap.

Having headed into the race buoyed by a splendid victory during Saturday’s 17th round, Cook’s weekend concluded on a sour note at the third corner, Yentwood, when a multi-car tangle was triggered unwittingly by David Moore and resulted in the TJ Motorsport racer retiring with damage.

With Alex Austin most definitely out of the title picture now having been caught up in the opening lap skirmish and forced into retirement himself, and Aaron Williamson needing Sarah Moore and Cook to both have a nightmare event during the Brands Hatch finale in two weeks, it’s now the teenage girl racer who has everything stacked in her favour.

Speaking after her highly important victory, Moore said: “The start was hard, Jake (Cook) was alongside me all the way through Turn 1 and then Mitch (Hale) came up the inside into the hairpin so I had to make sure I didn’t get taken off.

“When the re-start came, I kept cool and everything worked out. The car was perfect and the warmer weather today helped us. In the first race on Saturday I didn’t go as well as I thought I would but the win today has definitely made up for that.”

From pole position, Cook initially seemed to leave the grid well but Moore got better drive as she shifted up through the gears and as the tightly bunched Ginetta Juniors headed around Turn 1 of the oval banking, Cook actually slipped back out of the top four by the time they arrived at Deene.

Mitchell Hale, from third on the grid, hit the front for Tollbar Racing at the first hairpin to edge ahead of Moore and Tom Howard but as Cook attempted to get back on terms with the leaders as they pulled away, his car was tagged as he turned into Yentwood by David Moore. The collision sent Cook into Pippa Coleman’s car and all three ended up with damage.

Unsurprisingly the Safety Car was deployed as the stricken vehicles were removed and at the re-start on lap four, leader Hale pulled away nicely. Sarah Moore planned on making a quick attack though and she dived up the inside at Deene, smoke pouring off her tyres under braking, to nose ahead.

Due to the Safety Car intervention, the race was limited to 15 minutes and on lap five Moore started to build a small advantage over Hale with Howard third, Williamson fourth and Chris Swanwick in fifth position. Hale mounted a fightback into lap six as Williamson started to latch on to the top three but on the seventh tour it was Howard’s turn to show his intent with the fastest lap.

Into lap eight, Moore set fastest lap as her lead grew to around one second with Hale coming under increasing pressure from Howard. Behind, fourth placed Williamson started to fall away from the podium battle and then, at Pif-Paf, he ran wide to allow Swanwick into fourth place.

On the final tour, lap nine, Moore pressed home her advantage yet further with another fastest lap of 1m39.946 seconds (69.87mph), the only driver in the race to lap under the 1m40 second barrier, and took her fifth win of the season by 1.3 seconds.

Hale finished in second place, his best result since stepping into Ginetta Juniors at the start of the year, with Howard a fine third for his second podium of the weekend and Swanwick some five seconds adrift in fourth position.

Further back, the order was shuffled on the last lap at Deene when several cars made contact jostling over fifth place. Williamson came through to take the position ahead of returning driver Ashley Craig, Jake Rattenbury – whose initial passing attempt at the hairpin led to the incident – and Adam Bonham. Coleman was the last classified runner, albeit a lap down after pitting with damage.

While Sarah Moore heads into the final two rounds of the season with a good points advantage, Cook’s second non-score from the last three races has seriously dented the progress he made on Saturday with victory in round 17. He now faces an uphill battle to overturn Moore’s lead when the championship decider takes place at Brands Hatch Grand Prix Circuit, Kent, on 3rd/4th October.

Provisional 2009 Ginetta Junior Championship with Henderson Insurance Positions (after Rd18):
1st Sarah Moore, 419pts; 2nd Jake Cook, 395pts; 3rd Aaron Williamson, 375pts; 4th Alex Austin, 333pts; 5th Chris Swanwick, 299pts; 6th Tom Howard, 289pts

Photo by Jakob Ebrey Photography