1st Central racing driver Sebastian Priaulx salvaged some crucial championship points from a trying second meeting of the 2017 Simpson Race Products Ginetta Junior Championship season at Donington Park over Easter weekend (15/16 April).
Priaulx headed to Leicestershire as the championship leader following a superb season opener at Brands Hatch two weeks prior, when he secured a double pole position and a race victory, but the Guernseyman would unfortunately see luck desert him during the first triple-header meeting of the campaign.
The 16 year old got his race weekend off to a positive start during official pre-event testing on Thursday, with some productive running across the two thirty minute sessions ending with him sitting a promising third on the timesheets, before he got more crucial track time under his belt on Friday morning.
It wouldn’t go his way during a close-fought qualifying session on Saturday however, with a best effort of 1m 24.620s putting him seventh on the grid for the opening race, with just 0.130s splitting him from third position, while his second best effort earnt him fourth on the grid for race two.
Priaulx would produce a fantastic start to the opening encounter later that day, gaining two positions on the opening lap before the safety car emerged on track, with the reigning Ginetta Junior Winter Series champion finding himself right in the thick of the action again when the racing resumed.
With his JHR Developments-prepared Ginetta G40 struggling for straight-line speed though, an issue made worse by a flapping front bonnet after early contact, Priaulx wouldn’t be able to continue his attack as hoped and would bring his car home in sixth position at the chequered flag.
That would unfortunately prove to be Priaulx’s best finish of the weekend. An early challenge for the podium positions in Sunday’s opening race would unravel when contact to his rear pitched him into the car in-front and off circuit, leaving him to impressively nurse his damaged car home in seventh.
There would be further disappointment in the weekend’s final encounter, with Priaulx left with nowhere to go when a car span in front of him at the Old Hairpin on lap one, with heavy contact to the driver’s door and rear wheel of his G40 leading to an instant retirement in the pit lane.
The weekend’s troubles have dropped Priaulx to fifth in the championship standings after the opening six races of the year, but he’s ready to bounce back and fight for the race wins next time out at Thruxton in Hampshire next month (6/7 May).
Sebastian Priaulx: “We headed into the meeting with confidence high after Brands Hatch, so it’s been really disappointing the way it’s played out in all honesty. The car hasn’t really had the pace all weekend, which has left us right in the middle of the battles and we just haven’t had the luck with contact.
“JHR Developments did a fantastic job to fix the car after race two, so it’s really frustrating to have been caught up in another accident in race three. We’re determined to come back stronger at Thruxton next time out though and push to get back on the top step of the podium.”