Spanish teenager Pepe Massot stunned the established order in the Michelin Ginetta GT Supercup at Brands Hatch Indy Circuit over the weekend, 30th/31st March, by claiming a remarkable maiden win during only his, and the Hillspeed team’s, second race in the category.
Graduating with the Hathersage squad from the Ginetta Junior sister series, where he made his car racing debut in 2012, the 17-year-old from Barcelona really has taken no time at all to master the infinitely more powerful Ginetta G55.
“Pepe did a fantastic job this weekend, we couldn’t have asked for more from him”, said Hillspeed team principal Richard Ollerenshaw, “He’s been on the pace from the off, he was very competitive in qualifying and to win in only our second ever race in this championship was just incredible really.
“Everyone at the team has worked incredibly hard as well and they deserve a lot of credit. To have competed against, and beaten, well established Ginetta GT Supercup teams on our debut is as much as we could have hoped for.”
Impressing in his first Ginetta GT Supercup qualifying session on Saturday morning with the fifth quickest time, a mere 0.3 seconds shy of pole position, Massot climbed as high as fifth in the opening encounter and raced strongly before having to settle for sixth five laps from the finish.
Round two, though, was where the Hillspeed youngster really made his mark, first slicing through from sixth on the grid into fourth and then taking third on lap three. Following an early Safety Car period, Massot set about challenging reigning champion Carl Breeze and on lap 12 he made the breakthrough to move into second place.
Then, only two laps later, the Spaniard got alongside race leader Jamie Orton and moved ahead to take a memorable lead. Pulling a second clear by lap 17, Massot did come under increasing pressure during the closing stages but delivered a drive showing maturity beyond his years to fend off the chasing pack and sail to a remarkable debut victory.
Round three, on Sunday afternoon, produced another great performance from Massot and early on he was well on course to make it two podiums in as many races. Lining up fourth on the grid, the teenager carved his way through to second and was just 0.6 seconds behind former Hillspeed driver Tom Ingram – who won the 2010 Ginetta Junior title for the team – into lap two.
At Graham Hill Bend though, an attempted pass by Breeze pushed Massot out onto the grass and the loss of momentum dropped him to fifth. Up into fourth prior to the appearance of the Safety Car at the start of lap four, when racing resumed Massot held station but was bundled back to seventh before the conclusion.
Double points finish for Ginetta Junior rookie White
The weekend’s action at Brands Hatch Indy Circuit also marked the car racing debut of Hillspeed newcomer Josh White, the 16-year-old karting graduate making his Ginetta Junior Championship bow after winning a scholarship established in connection with the Derbyshire team.
Qualifying 12th fastest for the first race, just 0.4 seconds shy of the top 10, the Ilkley youngster’s second best time was consistently strong and placed him on the sixth row again for round two of the season – this time little more than 0.1 seconds outside the top 10.
In the season opener on Saturday afternoon, which took place in slippery conditions, White dropped to the tail of the field at the start but recovered to battle over 12th place by mid-distance before settling for 13th position. In the televised second round on Sunday, he posted an improved 11th place finish to cap an encouraging first weekend.
“Josh had a huge amount to learn at Brands Hatch but he didn’t disgrace himself at all, he listened to everything we told him and he made some positive steps forward”, said Ollerenshaw, “He kept out of trouble and, importantly, finished both races which is the target we set before the weekend.”
Hillspeed’s Michelin Ginetta GT Supercup and Ginetta Junior squads will be back in action three weeks from now, over the weekend 20th/21st April, at Donington Park in Leicestershire. Before then, the team’s Protyre Formula Renault Championship outfit will make its first race appearance of the year for the opening two rounds of its 2013 campaign – also at Donington Park – on Sunday, 14th April.
2013 Michelin Ginetta GT Supercup Driver Standings (after Rd3)
3rd Pepe Massot, 69pts
2013 Ginetta Junior Championship Driver Standings (after Rd2)
12th Josh White, 18pts
Photo by Jakob Ebrey Photography.