Morris Taking the FlagSeb Morris has been crowned 2011 Ginetta Junior Champion after winning round 17 of the season at Brands Hatch Grand Prix Circuit in Kent this afternoon, Saturday, 1st October – the final result though remains provisional until tomorrow due to an unresolved judicial matter.

In scorching hot temperatures, the 15-year-old Hillspeed driver raced through from fifth on the grid to claim his 12th win of a truly dominant season ahead of Beacon Racing’s Niall Murray and privateer entrant Max Coates.

Pole position starter George Gamble retired on lap four after a tangle with Sennan Fielding as the pair battled for the lead. Charlie Robertson, the only driver other than Gamble mathematically capable of preventing Morris from sealing the title today, was the victim of misfortune himself after contact on lap one but fought back superbly to finish a mere 0.182 seconds shy of the podium.

During the closing stages the dice for victory boiled down to Morris and Murray, after Jake Giddings’ bid came to an end three laps from the finish. Passed by Murray at Surtees, after the Irishman had usurped Morris for second two corners earlier, Giddings went wide and dropped behind Morris, Coates and Robertson.

Into the penultimate lap, Murray led by a fraction with Morris – who had taken things fairly sedately during the first half of the race – challenging hard and with the title within reach. Running side-by-side as they headed to Druids Hairpin, Morris took the lead and held the advantage into the final tour but Murray challenged at the same corner the next time around and contact occurred.

Morris continued to claim the victory, and provisionally his second championship title after scooping the 2010 Ginetta Junior Winter Series crown last November, with Murray recovering a couple of seconds adrift in second.

“It feels great”, said Morris immediately after the race, “It was a really hard race, there was a lot of action on track but I managed to come through it all and take another win. I knew it would all kick-off ahead so I held back early on, I pushed to get good lap times but I wasn’t doing anything stupid as the main thing was to finish the race. When the chance came to fight for the win, we took it.”

At the start, Fielding continued his recent run of excellent form with a great getaway from third on the grid but there was no room ahead and he had to hold position initially. Moving to the outside of Giddings at Paddock Hill Bend though, the TJ Motorsport driver climbed into second and although re-challenged at Druids he held the place.

Morris, starting fifth on the grid, was bundled back to seventh at the exit of Druids and Robertson had his own problems at the very next turn, Graham Hill Bend, when contact pitched him into a near spin, save for some terrific car control in his HHC entry.

Gamble held the lead until lap four when Fielding made his way through at Druids and the battling closed the top five right up. The two at the front though came to grief soon after on the Grand Prix loop with Gamble retiring and Fielding eventually able to recover, climbing back into ninth place.

Giddings inherited the lead therefore with Tom Howard up into second, Murray third and Morris fourth but on lap six at Druids Murray made his move and took the lead. Contact at Graham Hill Bend between Giddings and Murray resulted in the latter running wide but on lap seven, the order was shaken-up again with Murray grabbing first place at Surtees and Morris taking advantage too.

Unfortunately for Howard, his race ended with a retirement to the pits on the seventh tour while at the front Morris managed to see off Murray and Coates. Robertson’s recovery to fourth was terrific, as was that of Fielding who posted a new lap record of 1m46.330 seconds (77.90mph). Giddings took fifth in the end with Brad Bailey sixth ahead of Oliver Chadwick in a season-best seventh.

Runner-up Murray commented: “It was a very hard race, I was up to fifth after the second corner and catching the guys ahead of me. I knew I was quicker, I just had to get by them, and I could see Seb catching so I knew I had to get away. There was a bit of movement with Sennan and George at the front, I didn’t see exactly what happened, but they both went off anyway so that put me in third.

“Then I got the lead, locked-up at Druids and then Seb got past. Then we had a pretty hard fight and at Druids on the last lap – well, it was tough. The car felt great today but qualifying was a disaster as my quickest lap was disallowed and that would have put me on the front row. I’m very happy with the race performance though, we carried on from where we left off at Rockingham.”

Coates added: “It was really hot out there, it was just over 30 degrees in the car before we started! I really enjoyed the race, we got a good launch off the line to get around Will Foster but didn’t really have anywhere to go up to Druids. So I decided I should try a do-or-die move and I got about five or six places – I had to do it because where I was I would have been hung out to dry.

“I had a go past Seb on the Grand Prix part of the track but he squeezed me and I then I couldn’t quite keep with him towards the end. The car did go off a bit in the last few laps, I think we were a bit high on the tyre pressures, but other than that the car was great to drive – I really enjoyed it.”

Round 18 of the Ginetta Junior Championship is scheduled to start at 12.10 tomorrow, Sunday, 2nd October, and will be screened live on Freeview, digital satellite and cable channel ITV4, on ITV4 HD and with live streaming as well at www.itv.com/touringcars

Provisional 2011 Ginetta Junior Championship Positions (after Rd17 – inc. drop scores):
CHAMPION: Seb Morris, 490pts; 2nd George Gamble, 364pts; 3rd Charlie Robertson, 358pts; 4th William Foster, 293pts; 5th Max Coates, 269pts; 6th Niall Murray, 268pts

Photo by Jakob Ebrey Photography.