Battling Morris puts one hand on the title, sharing Rockingham spoils with Robertson

Seb Morris and Charlie Robertson both took wins in rounds 15 and 16 of the 2011 Ginetta Junior championship last weekend at Rockingham, Morris edging closer to the championship title.

Hillspeed driver Morris battled with Niall Murray and George Gamble to take victory in Round 15 of the series, before fighting through the field in round 16 after an incident on lap one while Robertson went on to take his second victory of the year.

Saturday’s qualifying session saw HHC driver Robertson snatch pole position from Morris and Brad Bailey, but his start when the lights went out for round 15 was a slow one and handed Morris the lead through the turn one banking, but the 15 year-old was then caught napping by fourth place starter Murray, the Irishman driving around the outside at Deene hairpin to take the lead.

It was only the start for Robertson’s troubles as the Scot was boxed in the melee at the hairpin, before being spun out later in the lap which put him down to the back of the field.

On the next lap the lead positions swapped again as Morris got a run heading into Yentwood and muscled Murray onto the grass while making his move, the loss of momentum dropping Murray behind George Gamble who had made good early progress from fifth.

At the front, Gamble closed on Morris and took the lead on lap seven at the hairpin, but – after fending off brief pressure from Murray – Morris e at lap later, but Gamble managed to stay ahead.

A spin for Declan Jones caused a brief safety car period, after which Morris drafted neatly past Gamble around the first corner to take the lead, with Murray following through into second.

Gamble was then knocked off the podium by TJ Motorsport team-mate Sennan Fielding at Chapman later in the lap, and the Nottingham driver’s race came to a disappointing end when he outbraked himself at Deene hairpin and ended up in the barriers in his attempt to fight back on the final lap.

Morris meanwhile took his 11th win of the season by a 0.6s margain, with reigning Irish Ginetta Junior champion Murray taking his third podium of the season in second ahead of Fielding making the podium for the first time in a well-deserved third place.

Max Coates and Myles Collins got past William Foster to take fourth and fifth places, Coates having driven a storming race from 11th place and putting crucial overtakes on Jake Giddings and Collins earlier in the race. Paddy McClughan, the recovering Robertson, Bailey and Giddings completed the top 10.

Race two was again eventful, but this time it was for championship leader Morris as he and his Hillspeed team-mate Struan Moore were both involved in contact at turn three that sent cars scattering, dropping Morris to 11th place while Robertson again lost out from pole to Murray, who lead the field throught the opening lap.

Robertson was all over the back of Murray’s Ginetta on lap two and tried unsuccessfully a pass around the outside at the hairpin, before making it stick into the final chicane after a great exit from Tarzan.

The pair then pulled away from Collins, who had managed to get past Gamble, and it was his team-mate Robertson, the youngest man in the field, who held off a late charge from Murray to win his second race of the year by less than half a second, Irishman Murray taking his second podium of the weekend in certainly his best weekend of the year.

The intended recovery drive from Morris was slow to take place, but at mid-distance he began to attack and made his way up to eighth by lap six, before relentlessly picking off his rivals starting with Tom Howard and then Jones in quick proximity.

By the final lap he had closed on the battle for third, which then exploded as Fielding made a late lunge on Collins at Deene Hairpin that ran them wide and allowed Gamble to sneak past the pair of them for third, until Fielding grabbed back a second podium from the TJ Motorsport driver later in the lap that allowed Morris – who had passed Collins earlier in the lap – to sneak through into fourth place.

Yorkshireman Collins therefore finished an unlucky sixth having entered the final lap in third place, on a great weekend for the Scholarship winner and his HHC team-mate Robertson.

Morris now holds an almost unasailable lead of 131 points over nearest rival Robertson who has moved ahead of Gamble for second in the championship, and Morris will be thinking of wrapping the title up at Brands Hatch in two weeks time.

Championship standings after rounds 15/16:

1: Seb Morris, 494

2: Charlie Robertson, 363

3: George Gamble, 357

4: William Foster, 284

5: Max Coates, 255

6: Tom Howard, 241


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