Ashington racer Stuart Middleton heads Ginetta Junior Championship standings
Ashington's Ginetta Junior Championship leader Stuart Middleton maintained his place at the head of the series standings following the third event of the season at ultra-fast Thruxton over the weekend.
His success was largely thanks to a massively entertaining victory in round six on Sunday.
In truth, the 16-year-old could have been celebrating a double win at the challenging Hampshire venue – the fastest track on the calendar – but after being edged out onto the grass, while disputing the lead, he ultimately ended the second race in ninth position.
Nonetheless, he battled back strongly and confirmed his sheer speed with the fastest lap of race two on the final tour – a time of 1m 31.849s (92.34mph).
Going into the fourth race meeting of the season four weeks from now at Oulton Park in Cheshire, Middleton has a lead of 11 points.
“It’s obviously great to have won again and to be leading the championship still, but we should’ve been challenging again for the win in race two”, reflected the Douglas Motorsport driver.
“We had the pace to win the race and I proved that with fastest lap at the end.
“Oulton is next and another good circuit for us, we had good pace there last year and I was on for third until I had an unfortunate spin.
“It’s another track I enjoy driving so I’m looking forward to it and aiming to do well.”
Lapping in the top five in free practice on Saturday, Middleton went on to run impressively in qualifying and only missed out on the round six pole position by the smallest possible margin – a mere 0.001 seconds.
Starting Sunday morning’s race from the front row of the grid, Middleton got a good start and moved into the lead through the complex before opening an advantage of close to a second over the first 2.35 miles of racing.
Within a couple more laps, William Tregurtha began to apply pressure but Middleton fended off his rival absolutely superbly.
By lap seven, the Douglas driver was under threat for the lead and was attacked into Goodwood but he swiftly hit back on the exit.
Fighting unbelievably hard to retain the lead, Middleton ran door handle-to-door handle with Tregurtha and after trading first place at the fastest part of the track on lap eight he managed to stay ahead into the final tour.
Challenged again at Noble and Goodwood, Middleton kept his foot buried on the throttle and managed to protect the all-important inside line on the run up Woodham Hill into the chicane – taking the win on the line by 0.168 seconds.
For round seven, Middleton lined-up on pole position and led away well but the action fell under safety car conditions very quickly after a multi-car tangle at the exit of the complex.
Racing resumed on lap four and although edged back to second at the quickest part of the track, Middleton displayed maximum commitment through Church despite dropping a wheel on the grass.
Looking to re-challenge for the lead, the youngster was edged back to third by Dave Wooder on the fifth tour on the run into the chicane.
Two laps later, Middleton was making another bid for the lead as he, Wooder and Tregurtha ran three abreast through the incredibly fast sweeps at the back of the circuit.
Edged out wide onto the grass, Middleton did re-join safely but eventually finished ninth.
There is now a four week break in the Ginetta Junior Championship calendar with the next event of the 2016 season taking place at Oulton Park in Cheshire over the weekend June 4 and 5.