Connor Grady produced a superb season-best performance for Total Control Racing during only his second race meeting in the Ginetta Junior Championship over the weekend, 8th/9th August – the young rookie taking a well-deserved 14th place in round 11 at Snetterton 300 Circuit in Norfolk.
In only his third race in the ultra-competitive category, the 14-year-old delivered a drive displaying maturity beyond his years in the opening encounter on Saturday to claw his way through the order from 22nd at the start into 14th position for the Wednesbury team.
In similar fashion to Grady, team-mates Matt Chapman and Cameron Roberts both had to fight through in round 12 on Sunday with the former scything his way from the rear of the grid, 24th position, to claim 11th place at the finish – only 0.023 seconds shy of the top 10.
Roberts, meanwhile, finished just behind Chapman in 12th position in the second contest after a great drive from 21st on the grid, with both competitors bouncing back well from unfortunate non finishes on Saturday. Dave Wooder, meanwhile, had to battle problems with a down-on-power engine all weekend and had to settle for a best of 14th in race two, having been 16th in race one.
“It’s been quite a tough weekend again for the lads which is all the more frustrating after being fastest with Matt in testing on Friday”, said TCR team boss Lee Brookes, “We couldn’t believe his bad luck in race one but his drive through from the back in Sunday’s race was fantastic, and Cameron did a similar job too which was great to see after some bad luck of his own in the first race.
“Connor’s coming on in leaps and bounds, race one was great from him and he made sure he stayed out of trouble to get his best finish yet. We’ve all been really frustrated for Dave, we think he’s got a duff engine as we changed absolutely everything, all of the parts linked to the engine, but he was still down on power. Somehow he managed to get two points scores, which was good going.”
Chapman started the weekend very impressively for TCR during officially timed testing on Friday, 7th August, with the teenager posting the fastest time of the day for the West Midlands squad and then going on to just miss out on the quickest lap in Saturday’s practice – a mere 0.050 seconds shy.
In qualifying, though, Roberts came to the fore as the fastest of the TCR quartet with the seventh best lap but due to a 10 place grid penalty from the previous race meeting at Croft, he had to line-up in 17th position on the grid.
Chapman, who ended up with the ninth fastest time in qualifying having had his best lap deleted due to a track limits infringement, moved up to eighth place on the grid due to Roberts' penalty, while Grady and Wooder started 22nd and 23rd respectively.
Despite his excellent beginning to the weekend, Chapman’s rotten luck reared its head again on the first lap of round 11 at Montreal Hairpin when a concertina effect behind the teenager resulted in an impact to the rear of his car – ruling the Oxfordshire driver out on the spot.
Following a brief Safety Car period the action resumed on lap three with Roberts up into 11th place, having delivered a superb opening lap initially, and with Grady and Wooder both into the top 20. Making quick work of Seb Perez to break into the top 10, Roberts closed-up behind William Tregurtha but an unfortunate excursion on the sixth and final tour resulted in a disappointing non-finish.
Grady and Wooder, meanwhile, managed to pick up a number of positions as they stayed out of trouble and the TCR pairing ultimately ended the contest in 14th and 16th positions respectively – the result marking Grady’s best yet, by far, on only his second weekend in Ginetta Junior.
Wooder, of course, had to battle his down-on-power engine all weekend and despite the TCR mechanics changing every component to try and trace the source of the issue nothing could be resolved and the lack of pace continued into race two for the first year driver. Even so, he was able to finish in 14th position having started in 16th place
From the seventh row of the grid in race two, Grady was the one to get caught-up in early drama at the hairpin and after being edged out wide on the grass after contact, he dropped down the order to 22nd position and eventually battled back through into the top 20.
Roberts lined-up three places ahead of Chapman for race two, in 21st and 24th respectively, but it was the latter who made the best of the first lap to catapult into the top 15. Roberts climbed into 18th initially but, into lap three, the TCR duo held 14th and 15th with Chapman still leading the way.
After a fantastic battle at Riches on lap four involving three cars, Chapman managed to see off Roberts to retain 12th position but the latter did move up into 13th place himself to continue hot on his team-mate’s heels. With Wooder’s power-sapped car next up the road, Chapman and Roberts reeled him in at a rapid rate and moved through to 11th and 12th respectively.
Knockhill in Scotland is the next destination for the Ginetta Junior Championship just a fortnight from now on 22nd/23rd August. On the same weekend, TCR’s title-chasing Ginetta GT5 Challenge squad will be back in action at Snetterton.
Provisional Ginetta Junior Championship Driver Standings (after Rd12):
12th Matt Chapman, 97pts; 19th Dave Wooder, 51pts;
20th Cameron Roberts, 41pts; 25th Connor Grady, 12pts
Provisional Ginetta Junior Championship Team Standings (after Rd12):
4th Total Control Racing, 209pts