Ginetta Junior Championship leader Charlie Robertson enhanced his cushion at the top of the driver standings to 23 points at Rockingham over the weekend, 22nd/23rd September, after racing to a pair of second place finishes – boosting his tally of podiums for the year to 11 from 16 races.
Dominating qualifying by taking pole position for both outings, robust action in each encounter meant the 15-year-old was unfortunately prevented from adding to his recent run of wins. He did, though, out-score all of his rivals and also posted a new lap record – bettering his own benchmark – with a time of 1m33.807 seconds (74.45mph).
“Overall it’s been a good weekend, collecting as many points as possible is the aim and we’ve done that”, said the HHC Motorsport driver, “We had the pace to take a win this weekend, so I am a bit disappointed about that, but hopefully we can carry on the momentum of being on the podium at Silverstone and the final round at Brands.”
Beginning the weekend strongly in practice, Whyteleafe-based Charlie was in a league of his own in qualifying and took the top spot on the grid for round 15 by a full 0.4 seconds before adding the round 16 pole position, 0.2 seconds clear of chief rival Sennan Fielding.
Making a good start to Saturday afternoon’s race, the Investigo and Ria Capital Markets-supported racer held the inside line through Turn One of the Rockingham Oval but at Deene he was shuffled down the order to fifth as several drivers cut across the dirt on the inside of the hairpin.
Instantly setting about regaining the lost ground, Charlie took fourth place at Tarzan mid-lap and then piled on the pressure to Harry Woodhead in third. On lap two though, at the exit of Tarzan, contact occurred between Charlie and the recovering Fielding which dropped the HHC racer to sixth.
Reeling off some sensational laps, determined to get back into the podium placings, Charlie was into the top three by lap six and closed down second placed Keith Donegan’s 1.5 second advantage to nothing before passing the Irishman on the penultimate lap. Over the final couple of miles, the series leader closed down Ollie Chadwick but just missed out on the win by a mere 0.3 seconds.
“I got a pretty decent start but I’m not sure what happened at the hairpin – in the driver briefing we were told you couldn’t use four wheels off the track there but some of them did so I ended up back in fifth”, said Charlie, “On lap two I tried to pass [Harry] Woodhead into Tarzan and then Sennan [Fielding] got the cut back behind, but on the exit he ran me out of road and clipped my wheel.
“That put me back to about sixth, so I had to focus on the front and just try and work my way back through. I could see Ollie [Chadwick] ahead so I just pushed as hard as I could. With maybe another couple of laps I could have had the win, congratulations to Ollie though, he drove really well.”
In round 16, the Caterham School pupil maintained the advantage of pole and led until lap three when Fielding launched an attack up the inside at Deene. Charlie, wanting to avoid all contact, didn’t dispute the move but on the exit his car was leant on quite heavily. Even so, he was able to hold second and remained in close company to the finish – again missing the win by only 0.3 seconds.
The MSA Academy driver, who has confirmed he will graduate to single-seater racing in 2013 in the newly announced BRDC Formula 4 Championship, will be back in Ginetta Junior action just a couple of weeks from now at Silverstone National Circuit over the weekend 6th/7th October.
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2012 Ginetta Junior Championship Driver Standings (after Rd16):
1st Charlie Robertson, 432pts