Robertson shows his quality for first Ginetta Junior winPosted: June 21, 2011
14 year-old Charlie Robertson finally picked up his first pole position and race victory in Ginetta Juniors, while championship leader Seb Morris struggled at Croft.
Qualifying was a disaster for Morris in tricky conditions as he could not get any higher than 11th place on the grid for the first race on Sunday afternoon, as Robertson snatched the pole position from George Gamble with a great sequence of quick laps.
However when the first race got underway, it was Gamble who made a blistering getaway when the lights went out to take the lead as the field went into Clervaux for the first time, where carnage broke out as Brad Bailey bounced over to kerbs trying to pass Robertson for second and spun in the middle of the pack and into the gravel, forcing Jake Giddings and Oliver Chadwick through the gravel in avoidance.
Behind them Tom Howard did exactly the same as Bailey and lost control over the kerb, forcing Niall Murray across the grass on the inside of the track where he rejoined and spun across the track at Hawthorn, almost wiping out a number of drivers including the fast-starting Morris who had avoided all the carnage to come through the chicane in fourth place.
Morris then quickly made a pass on William Foster for third before catching up to the lead pair of Gamble and Robertson. On lap four, Morris made a very late lunge on Robertson coming into the hairpin, clattering into the side of the HHC Motorsport driver who then fought back and regained his second place as he held the inside line into the next corner, Clervaux.
As Morris had a big lock-up heading into Tower bend, Robertson started to up the pace and closed up to the back of leader Gamble as they started the last lap. Foster had caught the third place man Morris, and made a good late-braking pass at Clervaux to take third from the championship leader.
The battle for the lead turned into a one-lap thriller with Gamble defending his lead, and Robertson drew alongside Gamble on the approach to the Jim Clark Esses. The pair then made contact going through flat-out corner before Robertson emerged in the lead, before unbelievably losing the back end of the car and half-spinning heading into the next corner at the approach to Sunny, handing the lead and a hard-fought second win of the year back to Gamble.
Robertson somehow managed to recover his spin and hold on to take second place despite Foster’s efforts to pass through the final three corners, while Morris finished behind them in fourth place. Privateer Max Coates finished fifth at his home circuit ahead of Howard and Giddings. Eighth place went to Hillspeed’s Struan Moore ahead of Patrick McClughan – who also spun on lap one – and Sennan Fielding completing the top ten.
The front row of the grid was the same for the second race, with Robertson on pole and Gamble alongside him. Both drivers got a good start, but were caught by surprise as a superb start by Howard saw him outbrake the pair of them around the outside into Clervaux to take the lead. Robertson slotted into second ahead of Gamble, while Foster grabbed fourth position having nudged Bailey wide through the gravel at the first corner.
Losing out on the opening lap was Coates, who dropped to the back of the field after being hit by a spinning Declan Jones coming into Sunny In, while on the second lap there was drama as Gamble started to drop down the order to seventh place from third, behind championship leader Morris.
Having charged from 14th up to sixth in one lap, the Hillspeed driver made an aggressive move on Giddings heading into the complex towards the end of lap two to steal fifth place, but Giddings had the line for the second part of the complex and wouldn’t take no for an answer and the pair made contact, sending Morris into a spin and down to tenth, while Giddings slipped to seventh. This put the TJ Motorsport team-mates of Gamble and Bailey into fifth and sixth places respectively, before Bailey overtook his team-mate at Tower.
On lap five there was a new leader as Robertson lunged up the inside of Howard going into Tower, while further behind them Foster was grimly hanging on to third place ahead of Murray.
Lap six saw Gamble find a way past Bailey in an intense scrap for fifth, but his work was undone when Giddings braked too late at the hairpin trying to pass Bailey and ran into the back of Gamble, spinning the Nottingham driver around while Giddings and Bailey took to the grass in avoidance, all this allowing Myles Collins – another local driver – into fifth.
Robertson up front started to feel more at ease and managed to shake off Howard to take a popular maiden by 1.5s, becoming the third different driver – and youngest in the field – to win a Junior race this season. Foster held off Murray for third to claim his fourth podium appearance of the season, while Morris recovered to fifth place ahead of Collins in a solid sixth.
Championship standings after rounds 9/10:
1: Seb Morris, 318
2: George Gamble, 230
3: Charlie Robertson, 211
4: William Foster, 207
5: Tom Howard, 185
6: Max Coates, 171