When Stuart Middleton won the Ginetta Junior Scholarship last year, the judges knew he had a talent, but the Quinton Hazell-backed driver’s performance in the first half of the KICK Start Energy Drink Ginetta Junior Championship has gone beyond all expectations.
At the season’s mid-point, Middleton, 15, is ranked ninth overall in the championship, and is the third rookie. He took pole positing in qualifying at Thuxton, stormed to third place in his first ever race, and took second in the rookie class in the same weekend at Brands Hatch.
Middleton’s calmness shows through in his racing style, which is smooth, mature and clinical. “I’m constantly getting used to the car,” says Middleton, who had only ever raced in karts before Ginetta. “I seem to be getting used to it a bit more now, and I’m able to work with the team to work on the setup. I feel a lot more confident about making changes.
“Ginetta’s are completely different to what I was used to. You’ve got to be much more settled, both because of the car and the type of racing. You’ve got to be settled and aware. It’s less about lunging for overtakes, and more about waiting for the person in front to make a mistake and to be smooth.”
Rather than being intimidated by a packed grid of other competitors, Middleton takes a relaxed approach to each race. He says: “On the grid I just try to plan my next move. I think about where I’m going to position my car. There are quite a few things you have got to be mindful of, and anticipate them.”
The Northumberland teenager doesn’t just enjoy the racing: “It’s been great, really good fun, something completely different. I get on well with all of the drivers, and I’m really enjoying working with the team – I have a good muck about with the mechanic. I really like the whole environment, and every race has been pretty much action-packed. The QH livery looks brilliant, too, and I want to say a massive thank-you to them for their support.”
Marium Ali, Marketing Director of Tetrosyl, the company which owns QH, says: ‘We have watched Stuart with both pride and awe over the course of the season. He’s excelling as both a driver and an ambassador. The QH dragon looks magnificent on the Ginetta G40, and we’re so pleased to see it roaring ahead towards the front of the pack in almost every race.’
Ashley Gallagher, Championships Manager for Ginetta Cars, added; “Stuart has made a brilliant start to the season, in what has arguably been one of the most competitive fields to date– and I am certain that Ginetta and QH made the right choice in choosing Stuart as our Ginetta Junior Scholarship winner.”
Stuart will be back on track on 8/9 August at Snetterton Circuit in Norfolk, and if you think you have what it takes to follow in his footsteps, entries are now open for the 2016 Ginetta Junior Scholarship, with all the information on how to enter HERE.