Hard work and determination saw Alex bounce back from a disappointing first race to take the rookie cup at Oulton Park.
The BTCC supporting 2014 Ginetta Junior Championship took place last weekend at Oulton Park in Cheshire. 21 of the UK’s leading junior drivers lined up on the grid to take on the challenging international layout, which had not been used for the BTCC since 1996.
Friday’s practice sessions provided the drivers with the chance to learn the circuit and immediately Alex set some very competitive times. A heavy rain storm shortly before the qualifying session on Saturday provided an extra twist to the proceedings. As the track started to dry, Alex set quicker and quicker lap times and started his last lap in 9th. As the flag came out to end the session, Alex crossed the finishing line setting the fourth fastest time and as the top-placed Rookie driver. This time earned him a second row start for Sunday’s televised race, just half a second off pole position.
Alex lined up on the second row of the grid for Sunday’s first 7 lap race in front the thousands of BTCC fans lining the circuit. As the start lights went out, he got a good start and held 4th place as the cars raced into the second corner. As the cars braked for the corner, the driver behind him hit Alex’s car and spun him off the circuit. As all the other cars raced off, Alex managed to get the car back onto the circuit just as the safety car was deployed for another incident. During the next two laps, he chased down the other cars and as the safety car pulled off, he was right behind the last car. With only 4 laps remaining, he fought his way through the pack, setting the 3rd fastest overall lap time and earning a hard fought 12th place at the flag.
“It was not the result I had hoped for and, without the safety car incident, I would have probably not been able to catch the pack. After being forced off the track all I could think about was getting back on and chasing down the other cars,” commented Alex.
Prior to the start of the second race, a heavy rain shower hit the circuit making the track conditions very difficult. As the cars lined up on the grid for the 7 lap race, the rain stopped and the sun appeared. Too much wheel spin at the start dropped Alex down to 8th place as the cars raced into the second corner but this time Alex exited the corner without any incidents. Lap by lap, Alex steadily moved through the field and when the checkered flag finally came out Alex crossed the line in 6th place.
Pleased with 6th place after the disappointment of race 1, the ups and downs of the weekend were to take another turn for Alex. A collision caused by the fifth place driver during the race was ruled to be unfair by the Clerk of the Course and the driver was excluded from the race, moving Alex up into 5th place. Finishing 5th also made Alex the top Rookie driver and he left Oulton Park with his first car racing silverware – The Rookie Cup.
“A big thank you to my team JHR and my mechanic Mark, my sponsors Carlube and MIS Motorsport. After the disappointment of the first race, I was determined to fight back and get the best result I could. Avoiding the collision towards the end of the race lost me a place and on the last lap I set my fastest lap and had caught the car in front just as the checkered flag came out. Winning the Rookie Cup was a nice reward for everybody’s hard work. Now we have to build on this for the next round at Croft at the end of the month,” remarked Alex.