1st Central racing driver Sebastian Priaulx has secured vice-champion honours in the Ginetta Junior Championship after bringing his superb 2017 campaign to a close with a brilliant pole position and race win in the season finale at Brands Hatch.
The Guernseyman produced a sublime performance around the Kent circuit’s iconic Grand Prix layout to take victory in the opening race of the weekend, before battling to a pair of top six finishes in the final two outings of the year to cement a richly deserved second position in the final points standings.
The race meeting kicked off in positive fashion as Priaulx produced competitive lap times in both wet and dry conditions during Friday practice, which set him up for the all-important qualifying session which started a busy day of action on Saturday.
The final qualifying of the season would produce the same result for Priaulx as the opening one six months prior, with the sixteen year old topping the timesheets with a tremendous lap of 1m 48.186s to take an eighth pole position of the season by over a quarter of a second.
Converting his pole into an early race lead in the opening encounter, Priaulx would slip back to second in a close-fought duel with Harry King, but he kept tabs with the new leader throughout and would eventually go on the attack on the final lap of the race.
A fantastic run out of Surtees allowed him to draw alongside the leader in his HHC Motorsport G40, with a fearless move through the high-speed Westfield corner seeing him dive down the inside and grab the race lead three corners from the finish.
From there, Priaulx positioned his car perfectly to fend off an attempted fightback and take the chequered flag for a breath-taking seventh win of the campaign, which filled him confidence heading into the second race of the weekend later that afternoon.
With a delay in the timetable prior to the race, it would eventually take place as dusk fell over Brands Hatch, with the IHG Rewards Club supported driver unfortunately losing out on the opening lap to slip from third on the grid to fifth position.
Sitting in the middle of an eight car train battling for the podium positions, Priaulx would trade fourth position a couple of times as the race progressed and looked on course to take that place at the finish, however a robust move from a rival would result in him being shuffled back to sixth on the final lap.
With the race two result setting the grid for race three, Priaulx would start on the third row for the final race of the season on Sunday afternoon, which would take place in front of the live ITV4 television cameras and a huge trackside crowd around the 2.4 mile circuit.
At the second time of asking following a red flag restart, the reigning Winter Series champion would produce a tremendous launch off the line to immediately rise to third position, before a great run out of Clearways at the end of the lap moved him up to second.
With the chance of victory in his sights, Priaulx gave it everything to try and take the race lead and drew side-by-side with the leader heading into Sheene on lap four, however an unfortunate wide moment through the gravel would drop him back to sixth position.
Priaulx fought back superbly though and gained a couple of places over the next couple of laps to put himself back into podium contention, however despite his best efforts he was unable to forge a last lap move and took the chequered flag in fourth.
The weekend’s results bring to a close a season that has been full of twists and turns for the teenage racer, who showed tremendous resilience and fighting spirit to continue battling at the front of the field throughout, taking podium finishes during eight of the ten meetings across the year.
His thirteen top three finishes included seven victories, with a sensational spell of four wins in five races across the Oulton Park and Croft meetings showing him at his dominant best, whilst he also ends the year with an unmatched eight pole positions to his name in his 1st Central Ginetta G40.
Sebastian Priaulx: “We came to Brands Hatch ready to fight until the very end and that’s exactly what we did. I took the championship down to the penultimate race of the season and came away as the vice-champion, which I’m really pleased with.
“I’m delighted to have ended the season with a pole position and race win in the final meeting. I felt like a different person this weekend, there was no pressure on me and I felt really feisty. Something just clicked and I was able to really enjoy my racing.
“There have been lots of ups and down this season, but it’s been fantastic and I’ve learnt so much. I can’t thank my family, my teams and crucially my sponsors enough for all their support throughout the year, and now I’m focusing on some exciting plans for next season.”