Nathan Harrison - ThruxtonHillspeed’s Nathan Harrison consolidated his top six placing in the Ginetta Junior Championship at a wet and windy Thruxton Circuit in Hampshire over the weekend, 28th/29th April, with a best finish of fifth – second in the Rookie Class – during a rain-lashed sixth round of the campaign.

While qualifying didn’t go fully to plan for either Harrison or team-mate Pepe Massot, both first-year drivers produced superb performances in incredibly difficult race conditions to each secure healthy points finishes.

Starting Saturday afternoon’s race from the fifth row of the grid, an outing in which the Clerk of the Course ruled all drivers had to compete on treaded tyres due to the inclement weather, 15-year-old Harrison progressed into ninth on lap one before usurping Keith Donegan for eighth at mid-distance.

Massot, meanwhile, wasn’t able to capitalise on his top four starting slot and slipped to fifth initially before being edged back into sixth on lap five. As the race neared its conclusion on lap 10, the fight for sixth closed up with the Spaniard just ahead of then points leader Sennan Fielding and Harrison.

Heading up Woodham Hill on the approach to Club Chicane for the final time on lap 11, the trio ran almost three abreast into the braking zone. While Massot held on to sixth and second in the Rookie classification, Fielding didn’t get the best drive out of the corner and that gave Harrison all the invitation he needed to grab seventh on the line by a mere 0.088 seconds.

Non-stop rain on Sunday morning led to a fully wet track for round six with Harrison lining-up on the fourth row in seventh place ahead of Massot in ninth. With no let-up in the rain or the harsh winds, officials elected to begin the race from behind the Safety Car and when racing proper started on lap three, Harrison moved into the top five before challenging for fourth at Allard next time around.

Running fifth for the remainder of the race, the Oxfordshire driver did come under pressure from William Palmer during the closing stages but held firm to retain his hard-earned fifth place finish by 0.4 seconds – second in the Rookie class.

Massot, hampered by a heavily steamed-up windscreen caused by an issue with the demister on his Ginetta G40, slipped to eighth place early on but did battle into seventh before being edged back to eighth by Fielding who was recovering after an earlier moment. Added to his round five result, the finish enabled car racing rookie Massot to conclude the weekend back in the championship top 10.

“We’ve had exceptionally difficult circumstances this weekend but we’re very pleased with the performances of both Nathan and Pepe in incredibly tough conditions”, said team principal Richard Ollerenshaw, “Other than the official test a few weeks ago, this was Nathan’s first visit to Thruxton while Pepe hadn’t even seen the track before going out into free practice on Saturday!

“Nathan did a fantastic job with two very strong drives, the weather was terrible all weekend and he coped well with the challenges it presented. Pepe too had a strong weekend but he did struggle with visibility in race two as the heated windscreen packed-up, we’re not sure if it was caused by a fuse or a relay issue. All in all, it’s been a positive weekend and we’re now looking forward to Oulton Park where we’re aiming to have a third car back out in the championship.”

Rounds seven and eight of the Ginetta Junior Championship will take place six weeks from now over the weekend 9th/10th June at Oulton Park Island Circuit in Cheshire. Before then, Hillspeed’s Protyre Formula Renault BARC Championship squad will be back in action on 19th/20th May at Rockingham in Northamptonshire for the fourth and fifth rounds of its 2012 season.

2012 Ginetta Junior Championship Driver Standings (after Rd6):
6th Nathan Harrison, 92pts; 10th Pepe Massot, 64pts

Photo by Jakob Ebrey Photography.