Unstoppable Murray dominates Junior thrillers at Oulton ParkPosted: June 11, 2012
Douglas Motorsport’s Niall Murray stormed into the Ginetta Junior championship lead with a double win at Oulton Park last weekend in two action-packed races at the Cheshire circuit.
Charlie Robertson went into the weekend leading the championship, and the HHC Motorsport driver was dominant in qualifying on Saturday by claiming both pole positions, while the surprise package of the day was Spain’s Pepe Massot who joined him up front for both encounters.
A slow getaway in race one for the pole sitter handed Massot the early lead in race one with Murray and Ollie Chadwick following them through the first corner, but Chadwick’s good showing ended faster than he had hoped with a big off into the barriers, the safety car being scrambled to clear up the G40.
On the restart, third-placed Murray provided the show as he went to the attack of Robertson’s second place and more crucial championship points, the Irishman making his move stick on the fifth lap of the race before setting off in pursuit of leader Massot.
The rapid Spainiard was reeled in quickly by Murray and soon surrendered his lead under braking for the Knickerbrook chicane on lap eight, while Robertson dropped further ground to Sennan Fielding and dropped to fourth with a beaten-up front end.
Murray’s Douglas Motorsport team-mate Andrew Watson then had an off and created another safety car period, whereafter Murray controlled the race to win by a 1.5s cushion back to Massot, having his best run of the season.
Robertson bumped and nibbled at the back of Fielding’s JHR car for third but could not quite get by for a podium spot, while Oliver Basey-Fisher was fifth ahead of Beacon Racing’s Harry Woodhead and Keith Donegan.
Race two saw Robertson and Massot go through turn one side-by-side, but the 15-year-old hung on to lead a four-car train with Massot, Woodhead and Murray all in hot pursuit ahead of Fielding and Donegan having their own scrap on the first lap.
Ricky Collard, son of BTCC racer Rob Collard, was having a very solid start to his second ever Ginetta Junior race with a great start up to seventh, but he suffered a huge accident on lap two at Old Hall when he lost the back end of the Tollbar Racing with WIRED car and speared backwards into – more dramatically landed on top of – the tyre barriers.
Collard was unhurt, but the red flags were soon waving as more carnage broke out when Woodhead was squeezed onto the grass braking for the hairpin by Massot and they clattered into one other, while Donegan then lost control of his car over the grass on the exit and hit the tyres, the race becoming a restarted six-lap race.
This was bad news for Robertson on the restart, as he made a poor getaway from the pole position and was beaten into Old Hall by Massot and then Murray, Massot’s lead only lasting half a lap as Murray made the move into Knickerbrook for the lead and dropped Massot down to fourth behind Robertson and Fielding.
The race then became a thrilling four-car dice for the rest of the race as Murray defended his lead, Robertson bravely trying a move up the inside heading up Clay Hill which left him on the outside heading into Druids, Murray braking late enough to hang onto the lead while Fielding took advantage and sneaked inside Robertson to push him down to third.
Massot was next to attack as the top three were glued together all the way around the circuit, and on lap five of six, Massot made a big lunge inside Robertson – taking a little bit of grass even – to snatch third place at the hairpin.
The move wasn’t done yet however as Robertson got the cutback, but as they reached the braking area for Knickerbrook, Robertson moved across slightly on Massot, spinning himself left into the brarriers and dropping to ninth place, although he continued to the finish.
Up front Murray defended superbly, and fended off the attentions of Fielding and Massot by blocking every opportunity to overtake on his way to completing a double victory at Oulton Park, extending a healthy 20-point championship lead as a result.
Woodhead took advantage of the late incident to take fourth ahead of the battered car of Donegan, while Chadwick took a solid sixth after his race one accident ahead of the frustrated Robertson.
Championship standings after rounds 7/8:
1) Niall Murray – 210 points
2) Sennan Fielding – 190 points
3) Charlie Robertson – 185 points
4) Harry Woodhead – 142 points
5) Pepe Massot – 120 points
6) Andrew Watson – 120 points
7) Keith Donegan – 115 points
8) Ollie Chadwick – 109 points