16-year-old Leeds racing driver Joel Pearson came away from the opening round of the Ginetta Junior championship at Donington Park this weekend with a solid second place in the championship in his R Racing prepared machine. Two top-five finishes on Saturday and a second-place on Sunday saw the teenager in serious title contention from the off.
Qualifying was the usual hectic 15-minute session as the youngsters all lapped to secure their two fastest times of the session to count towards their starting positions for race 1 and race 2. Pearson and his R Racing teammates all tried to work as a team and the session ended with Pearson a strong fifth place.
Race 1 saw a fantastic start from Pearson and he headed straight into third place as the pack jostled for position. With his elbows out Pearson soon found himself leading the field of 20 cars but in true Ginetta Junior fashion the tow soon became the deciding factor and the slipstream would aid in the cars behind passing Pearson for the lead. Now in fourth Pearson settled in and was in a constant tussle with his team-mate Josh Rattican and rival Tom Lebbon. As the flag dropped Pearson crossed the line in a solid fourth place and also the fastest lap of the race.
A quick turn around from race 1 saw Pearson again starting race 2 from fifth. As the lights went out Pearson again got a brilliant start and after the opening lap was again in third. A brief spell in second then saw Pearson’s R Racing teammates, Rattican and Millar join in the action which would see Pearson drop down the order to fifth place. A constant battle for position, nose to tail, then saw him cross the line in fifth.
Race 3 would see Pearson line up in fifth once again. As the 20 Ginetta Junior’s set off on the first lap Pearson again got a great start and slotted into fourth. A six-car train for the lead then started to break away from the pack and by lap 5 Pearson was in the lead with some fantastic race craft, carving his way through the traffic. With constant pressure from behind Pearson drove a mature race but on lap 9 had to yield to the hard-charging Georgi Dimitrov and would cross the line in second place.
A strong weekend of solid results saw the 16-year-old leave Donington Park second place in the championship standings.
Pearson commented, “Overall I’m delighted with how the first weekend went, the team did a fantastic job and the car was great all weekend. It would have been great to have taken the win in the last race of the weekend but I’m thinking long term about the championship, and points mean prizes! We are now heading into Brands Hatch second in the championship so I’m really happy about that.”
The next round of the Ginetta Junior Championship takes place on the weekend of 7-9 August at Brands Hatch GP.
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All Images: Jakob Ebrey Photography