Pepe Massot - Rockingham PodiumGinetta Junior Championship front-runner Pepe Massot secured yet another Rookie Cup victory for reigning champions Hillspeed during round 16 at Rockingham on Sunday, 23rd September, although contact at the final corner on the last lap robbed the Spaniard of a deserved outright podium finish.

While qualifying didn’t quite go according to plan for the 16-year-old, starting eighth on the grid for both encounters, Massot delivered two excellent race performances – in particular Sunday’s outing in which he scythed his way through into the top three only to be knocked back to fifth.

Climbing into the top six on the opening lap of round 16, the first year racer piled on the pressure to the drivers ahead and quickly took fifth before a tight battle over fourth ensued with Ollie Chadwick and Harry Woodhead.

Glued to the tail of Chadwick’s Ginetta G40, with Niall Murray only fractionally ahead of both in third place, Massot remained patient and out of Brook Chicane on lap six he benefitted from terrific drive to get the inside line through Turn Four of the Rockingham Oval.

Running into lap seven alongside Murray with Chadwick on the outside, the Hillspeed racer grabbed third place with some great driving into Turn One but on the final lap contact dropped Massot back to fifth behind both rivals.

In Saturday’s race, the Barcelona-born driver moved into the top four by the end of lap two and although slipping to fifth behind recovering championship leader Charlie Robertson – who dropped back on the second tour after contact with Sennan Fielding – Massot grabbed fourth back at Tarzan on lap seven, from Woodhead.

“We’re happy to see Pepe on the podium with a Rookie win but there were some questionable driving standards again this weekend, definitely costing him an outright podium in race two”, said team principal Richard Ollerenshaw.

“In qualifying he missed the opportunity to hook his laps up but he raced very impressively. Moving up to third from eighth on the grid in race two was outstanding and he managed to pass every car along the way without the slightest bit of contact. At the last corner of the final lap though, he was blatantly taken off – we’re incredibly disappointed nothing was done about that after the race.”

Team-mate Freddie Lee, in only his third weekend of racing in Ginetta Junior, produced two very impressive drives in rounds 15 and 16 and concluded the weekend with a best result so far of seventh place in Sunday’s encounter – just 0.6 seconds shy of the coveted top six.

Beginning race two from ninth on the grid, having qualified within 0.3 seconds of Massot, the 14-year-old climbed into eighth on the first lap and instantly tagged-on to Oli Basey-Fisher ahead while defending well from Keith Donegan behind.

As the mid-pack closed up into the second half of the race, with a train of five cars developing, there was nothing between the quintet and Lee was unfortunately shuffled back to ninth on lap five. Quick to recover though, the Hillspeed racer grabbed eighth place back at Brook Chicane on the sixth tour and then brilliantly nabbed seventh on the final lap.

In race one, the Chelmsford rookie held ninth early on and after pressuring the group ahead he managed to take eighth place from Basey-Fisher on lap six. Defending well with some great racecraft as his rival tried to hit back, Lee was then able to pull clear over the last couple of laps to maintain the position and take fourth in the Rookie Cup.

“We’re very pleased with Freddie’s performance this weekend, it’s the first event he’s done where he’s had chance to test before the race meeting and that preparation really paid off”, commented Ollerenshaw, “He’s really starting to get to grips with the car and raced very strongly all weekend which was fantastic to see, we’re really very impressed with his progress.”

Rounds 17 and 18 of the Ginetta Junior Championship will take place at Silverstone National Circuit in Northamptonshire over the weekend 6th/7th October. At the same event, Hillspeed will also have its Protyre Formula Renault BARC squad in action for the final two rounds of that championship.

2012 Ginetta Junior Championship Driver Standings (after Rd16):
4th Pepe Massot, 297pts; 14th Freddie Lee, 53pts

Photo by Jakob Ebrey Photography.