Murray and Fielding come through the carnage to win at Donington

Accidents were the main talking point of last weekend’s pair of races in the Ginetta Junior championship after rounds three and four at Donington Park, Niall Murray claiming his second win of the season in a chaotic opener before Sennan Fielding took race two honours and the series lead.

The first race on Saturday was a thriller between Murray and George Gamble, but in the end was marred by a pile-up in the closing stages of the race which saw numerous cars damaged heavily in the accident after the lead pair came together.

Hillspeed drivers locked out the front row with Gamble claiming pole position ahead of Nathan Harrison, and the pair both got good starts away from the line, but were immediately under pressure into Redgate from row two starters Murray and Charlie Robertson. As the Hillspeed drivers parted, Murray braked late and slipped through the gap and into second place.

Harrison lost further ground to Robertson and Oliver Chadwick at Craner Curves, while Murray took the lead heading into Coppice, Chadwick following the pair after disposing of Robertson also.

Gamble held off Chadwick and quickly set his sights back on Murray, reclaiming the lead with a forceful lunge on the Douglas Motorsport man to take top spot, before the race was neutralised by a safety car period caused by Finlay Ratcliffe at Old Hairpin on lap five.

Gamble got off to a clean restart, but a mistake at the final chicane a lap later cost him when he clattered the kerbs hard, the loss of momentum allowing Robertson and Fielding to get a run on them as it forced Murray wide also in avoidance. Heading into Redgate, Robertson stole the lead of the race, with Fielding following him through to drop Gamble and Murray down to third and fourth.

Chadwick and Pepe Massot’s battle for fifth had also hit trouble at the same chicane when contact between the pair sent Massot into a half-spin, the bottleneck resulting in Oliver Basey-Fisher and Harrison collecting them and retiring with heavy front end damage.

The big drama then occurred at Coppice, when Murray attacked Gamble for third. Unlike lap one the move ended in contact, spinning Gamble who rejoined into the path of oncoming cars; Massot, William Palmer and Elliot Paterson just some involved that sustained heavy damage.

All drivers emerged okay, though Gamble was taken to hospital as a precaution with back pains, and the race was stopped with cars strewn over the racetrack. The win was awarded after much deliberation to Murray on countback, from Robertson and Fielding. Chadwick was fourth, Harry Woodhead fifth, ahead of Irishmen Andrew Watson and Keith Donegan, Tom Jackson completing the eight finishers.

The second race saw Gamble elect not to start from pole in the spare car, leaving team-mate Harrison to lead the field through turn one. Murray made the best start up to second from a lowly eighth, which became third as Fielding passed Robertson and Murray in one move on the inside at Coppice and into the chicane.

Harrison had the pack breathing down his neck on lap two, and Fielding took the lead with a great move on the outside of him under braking for the chicane.

Massot was forced wide at Redgate a corner later, and made contact with JHR’s Chadwick at Craner that sent the latter into a lurid spin which he recovered from, while Murray and Robertson both passed Harrison with a good exit from Coppice.

Lap four saw a pile-up at the chicane when Robertson tried to go for a gap on Murray for second, spinning him around and forcing Woodhead to head straight for the tyrewall in avoidance, Massot and Basey-Fisher taking over second and third before Harrison and Watson moved past the latter at Coppice.

With Fielding holding a huge lead now, Watson then grabbed a podium spot with a move at Coppice again, bringing Basey-Fisher with him past Harrison. On lap eight, Ratcliffe spun after a grassy moment at Redgate, before Murray ran into the back of Robertson under braking for Old Hairpin, the HHC driver heading off at speed into the gravel.

Fielding took a dominant first win of the season by over seven seconds in the end from Spainiard Massot and Irishman Watson both taking well-deserved first Junior podiums of their career. Basey-Fisher just missed out by 0.284s, Harrison fifth ahead of Donegan, Jackson and Chadwick.

Fielding was delighted with his win, saying: “We had a good race yesterday after all the chaos I suppose. Today I just wanted to go out and win, because we’ve had the pace all weekend. I’m just speechless really!

“I managed to avoid it (the race one accident) so I’m staying out of it.”

The incidents throughout both races were what made the headlines however, Murray picking up seven penalty points and losing a total of 39 championship points that now sees him slip to second in the championship behind Fielding, although he keeps his round three win.

Championship standings after rounds 3-4:

1. Sennan Fielding – 102 points

2. Niall Murray – 79 points

3. Andrew Watson – 78 points

4. Charlie Robertson – 70 points

5. Ollie Chadwick – 60 points

6. Nathan Harrison – 56 points

7. Keith Donegan – 55 points

8. Oliver Basey-Fisher – 51 points

9. George Gamble – 50 points

10. Harry Woodhead – 50 points


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