Seb MorrisOn a day when Ginetta Junior Championship contenders George Gamble and Charlie Robertson both saw their respective title bids falter, points leader Seb Morris increased his advantage in the standings yet further at Rockingham this afternoon, Saturday, 17th September, with win number 11 of the season.

While pole-position starter Robertson was forced off the circuit on the opening lap at Yentwood and had to mount a spirited recovery to ninth position, and Gamble posted his first non-score of the year after crashing out on the final lap, series dominator Morris bagged yet another victory.

Qualifying was unbelievably close with 14-year-old Robertson securing his fourth and fifth pole starts of the season for the weekend’s 15th and 16th rounds of the campaign in Northamptonshire. Morris was a mere 0.016 seconds shy while the impressive Brad Bailey was just 0.073 seconds further adrift.

Robertson wasn’t able to get his HHC Motorsport Ginetta G40 off the line as well as he would like and so Morris immediately grabbed the lead of round 15 on the run into Turn One while second row starter Niall Murray also came into the picture.

Into the first hairpin, Deene, Murray made a bold bid for the lead around the outside of Morris and the move paid off superbly with Gamble coming through from fifth to third shortly before Robertson and Bailey had a coming together at Yentwood.

Through the delay caused by the contact, the top three managed to pull clear of the next group of cars headed by Sennan Fielding and on the next lap into Deene it was Morris’ turn to mount a bid for the lead which he seized. Gamble too tried to make his way past the Beacon Racing driver and completed his attempt successfully on the inside at Yentwood to demote Murray to third.

Morris began to stretch away instantly in his Hillspeed machine and set the early pace but Gamble redoubled his efforts and into lap four he was only 0.4 seconds behind the leader as the pair broke away from Murray. So evenly matched were the leaders, the fighting gave Murray the chance to close back in as Fielding maintained fourth some 1.4 seconds further adrift.

On lap seven, Gamble dived to the inside into Deene to grab the lead back from Morris and Murray also tried to pile on the pressure as they headed to Yentwood. Morris re-challenged at the very same corner on the following tour but Gamble managed to stay ahead – then the Safety Car was deployed to recover the stricken car of the unfortunate Declan Jones.

Racing resumed on lap 10 with Gamble heading a top eight comprising Morris, Murray, Fielding, Foster, Max Coates, Myles Collins and Tom Howard. On the run into Deene, Morris wasted no time and took his chance by slicing up the inside of Gamble to re-take first place once again and the delay for Gamble also enabled Murray to profit as he went through to second position.

From there the TJ Motorsport driver’s race came unstuck as he slipped to fourth behind Fielding at Chapman Curve and then, heading into Deene for the final time on lap 11, Gamble’s involvement came to a dramatic conclusion when an attempt to go around the outside resulted in retirement in the tyre barriers.

Morris ran untroubled to the flag to seal his 11th win from 15 races this season, Murray made a very welcome return to the podium to match his previous season’s best in second and Fielding capped off a fantastic race with his maiden podium in Ginetta Junior.

“George took a slightly wide line, I got up the inside – I knew I could get the move done on the inside there – I checked my reference point and got through”, explained Morris referring to his pass for the lead at the re-start, “I’m really happy to get the win, it’s great for the championship.”

Behind the top three, Coates took fourth place after a strong drive ahead of Collins – the latter’s best finish of 2011 – while the top six was rounded out by William Foster. Following his enforced recovery drive, Robertson salvaged a decent result in ninth place and also added the bonus point for fastest lap after posting a new Ginetta Junior circuit record of 1m36.890 seconds (72.08mph) on lap seven.

Speaking on his runner-up spot, Murray said: “It’s a great result, I got a brilliant start from fourth and tried to get my head down and pull away. But with the tow here, it’s really hard to pull away from the guys behind and when Seb (Morris) got back by I lost a couple of places as I was put wide.

“I just tried to keep my cool, then the Safety Car came out and me and Seb passed George (Gamble) at the re-start. I’m very happy with this result, second matches my best result of the season – well, today is my best finish of the season in the dry actually.”

Podium newcomer Fielding added: “We’ve had the pace most of the season, we’ve just not had much luck, but in today’s race it all went well. We struggled in testing as I’ve never been round here before, and we haven’t used any new tyres, so being on the podium is really good. Every time I get in the car I get a bit faster, a bit more comfortable, so hopefully we can carry on like this tomorrow.”

Round 16 of the Ginetta Junior Championship is scheduled to get underway at 12.10 tomorrow, Sunday, 18th September, and will be screened live on Freeview, cable and digital satellite channel ITV4, in High Definition on ITV4 HD and streamed online at www.itv.com/touringcars

Photo by Jakob Ebrey Photography.