Murray ready to “hit the ground running” ahead of new seasonPosted: March 30, 2012
With the new season literally a day away, Irish youngster Niall Murray enters the 2012 Ginetta Junior championship as one of the favourites for the title, and says he feels he has a great chance with new team Douglas Motorsport.
Murray finished an impressive runner-up to eventual runaway Junior champion Seb Morris in 2011, and is already focused on the new season ahead of him as the opening round at Brands Hatch gets underway.
“I can’t wait to get back into it,” he said. “Over the winter I was mainly working on my fitness and car control by doing some Autotest Precision Driving, in my soon to be road going Toyota Starlet!
“Last season was a learning season and I didn’t do any testing before the race weekends. However this season we have a good testing plan in place and it’s our aim to hit the ground running to try and keep my run of 6 podiums in a row going.”
Murray will form an all-irish pairing with rookie Andrew Watson at former single seater racer Wayne Douglas’ newly-formed Douglas Motorsport team, and after a solid pre-season testing, has already sung his praises about his new team.
“I’m really thrilled about the move to Douglas Motorsport. I’ve known Wayne from around the Irish Motorsport scene for a couple of years and he runs a great team! One of the biggest benefits will be the fact that I’ve got a team mate, Andrew Watson, and he’s quick too. This will give me someone to work with during practice and qualifying.
“My Brother Eoin has competed in numerous UK Championships and knows what it takes to win at these circuits. His guidance as my driver coach in 2011 was a huge asset. However, I am glad to say that he is competing in 2 European Renault Clio championships this year, so won’t be able to attend many of my races this season. Joining Wayne’s Driver Development programme will ensure that I still have the best guidance available to me throughout the season.”
The 2010 Irish Ginetta Junior champion stepped up to the UK series last year, and was quick to show flashes of speed during the early stages of the season while effectively still learning circuits and a Ginetta G40 that were new to him.
“It was very difficult at the beginning of 2011, especially due to the fact that of the 10 tracks we raced at, I was only able to do minimal testing at two of them before the season got underway. The new team and new car was a big jump from what I was familiar with in Ireland, and almost everyone else on the grid knew their cars from the 2010 season.
“It took us a while to get to grips with it, but in the latter half of the season we really got a good grasp of how to work with the setup and I felt very comfortable with the car and my driving.”
With champion Morris now racing in Formula Renault BARC, Murray’s success in the second half of 2011 marks him out as a serious title contender, but he is not taking anything for granted in a series known for producing great racing.
“My two main rivals will be Charlie Robertson and George Gamble”, believes Murray.
“The three of us were second, third and fourth in the championship last season and the winner isn’t competing with us anymore. Also the JHR Team will be strong this year with Ollie Chadwick being very fast towards the end of last season and Sennan Fielding a race winner last year.”
The opening pair of BTCC-supporting Ginetta Junior races at Brands Hatch will get underway on Sunday, a circuit that Murray enjoys having tasted success last year.
“I think the Brands Hatch GP track is probably my favourite overall. Being quickest in some of the testing without ever being there before the Friday really gave me good confidence on track.”