1st Central racing driver Sebastian Priaulx has continued his title challenge in the Simpson Race Products Ginetta Junior Championship with a hard-fought podium hat-trick during the latest triple-header meeting of the season at Rockingham this past weekend (26/27 August).
Priaulx would head into the meeting in new surroundings as following the previous rounds at Knockhill a fortnight prior, the sixteen year old was placed in the difficult position of having to change teams from JHR Developments to HHC Motorsport for the remainder of the season.
It would fortunately prove to be a smooth transition for the Guernseyman however, who got the Rockingham meeting off to a hugely positive start as he topped the timesheets in Friday’s second free practice session and finished the day in a strong third position overall.
Priaulx would kick off a busy Saturday with a fantastic performance in qualifying, narrowly missing out on pole position by just thirty-two thousandths of a second as he placed his Ginetta G40 second and fourth on the grid for the two races later that day.
A fantastic launch off the line in the opening encounter would move the reigning Winter Series champion into the race lead as they headed around the infamous Rockingham banking for the first time, however he would slip back to second through the Deene hairpin.
Holding the position into an early safety car period, Priaulx would unfortunately lose out when the action restarted as a robust move from a rival at the hairpin pushed him back to third place and left him defending his podium standing from a group of cars behind.
With his Ginetta suffering a speed deficit around the high-speed sections compared to his rivals, only some fantastic defensive driving ensured Priaulx took the chequered flag in third, before being promoted to second post-race as the driver ahead received a penalty for their contact.
A strong start to race two would see Priaulx maintain fourth position until lap three, when a great move into the Tarzan hairpin would secure him third. From there, he pushed hard to pressure the driver ahead, but couldn’t create a clear overtaking chance and maintained third to the flag.
The sixteen year old would start from the same position for the final race on Sunday and in front of the live ITV4 television cameras, he would enjoy a positive start to proceedings as he stormed down the inside around the turn one banking to grab second position.
That would begin a thrilling battle for the place over the next few laps, with Priaulx giving his all as he traded places with Daniel Harper a couple of times before settling in third position, with a clear gap to the pack behind meaning he could focus on keeping tabs with the top two.
Priaulx’s persistence was almost rewarded as he made it a three-way battle for the lead heading into the final two laps of the race, however despite his best efforts he would take the chequered flag in third position, his eleventh podium finish of the season so far.
The podium hat-trick for the weekend keeps Priaulx right in the championship hunt heading into the final two meetings of the season, with just seven points separating him from the summit of the standings heading to Silverstone (16/17 September).
Sebastian Priaulx: “We didn’t have the straight-line speed this weekend to really challenge for the race victories, so the focus was on making sure we kept our nose clean and maximising our opportunities to get a strong points haul, which is exactly what we achieved with the three podium finishes.
“It was a difficult experience leading into the weekend with the change of teams, but HHC Motorsport have been fantastic to me and my family, we’ve settled in really quickly and I’m pleased I was able to reward their hard work with some silverware this weekend.
“As a driver I want to be out there winning races so it’s naturally frustrating not to have climbed onto the top step of the podium, but the top threes have kept us right in the championship battle and we’re going to push for more success at Silverstone.”