After his first podium finish at Oulton Park at the beginning of the month, Alex's target was to head the rookie drivers again at last weekend’s Ginetta Junior Championship races at Croft in Yorkshire.
Not being able to test his Carlube and MIS Motorsport sponsored Ginetta Junior car prior to the race meeting, due to completing his GCSE assessments, Alex had to instead learn the circuit during the two free practice sessions on Friday. With help from his team, JHR Developments, he ended up at the end of the first session setting the 9th fastest time.
Free practice on Saturday prior to qualifying, saw Alex go faster and set the 8th fastest time, which he repeated in qualifying, securing a fourth row start as the fourth fastest rookie driver.
“I am really pleased with this time, as this is the first time I have driven this circuit and all the other drivers have completed a number of test days, so not bad for a first timer,” remarked Alex.
Twenty drivers lined up on the grid for the first 8 lap race on Saturday. A strong start from the fourth row saw Alex make up two places as the cars completed the first lap. As the six leading cars pulled away from the rest of the pack, the places changed lap by lap until, at the flag, Alex crossed the line in 6th place overall and as the 2nd place rookie driver, six seconds ahead of the next placed car.
“The race was great fun and I tried everything to get past the drivers in front but their experience showed as they made their cars as wide as possible and I could not get through. I am, however, really pleased with the result,” commented Alex.
Overnight rain showers looked like they might spice up the second 8 lap race on Sunday, but the sun appeared over the track as the cars lined up, drying the track. Starting again on the fourth row, this time the start was very congested as all the drivers jostled for position. Alex was forced back to ninth place as the cars squeezed through the chicane for the first lap. As the laps clicked off ten cars were all fighting for 4th place and Alex was in the thick of the battle. The cars continued to lap nose to tail and provided the thousands of fans lining the edge of the circuit, with one of the best Ginetta Junior races ever. The young drivers swapped places time after time and on the 6th lap, Alex was in 6th place. As the cars raced through the Jim Clark Esses, the fastest part of the track, two cars came together and to avoid them Alex had to run wide and slipped back to 12th place. As he entered the last lap, he fought his way back up the order to cross the line in a hard earned 10th place overall and 6th placed rookie driver. The racing had been so close that only seconds split the ten battling cars as they all crossed the line.
“That was the hardest race so far, I was in 6th place as we raced into the Jim Clark Esses but the car in front of me slowed as he touched another car and I had to brake to avoid him. This allowed the other cars to push their way through on my inside as I avoided them. I managed to make up two places on the final lap. It is disappointing as, without the incident in the Esses, I could have finished much higher up the order, but that’s racing,” reflected Alex.
Now Alex has a short break before the next race at Snetterton in August.