Round-up: Martin Donnelly part of new team, plus action from Snetterton
PUBLISHED: 17:37 19 February 2019 | UPDATED: 17:37 19 February 2019
Lewis Beales take his regular look at the world of motorsport, including the first Snetterton event of the season
Former Grand Prix driver Martin Donnelly and renowned Mini racer and team manager Jonathan Lewis, both from the Attleborough area, have set up a new team to contest the Ginetta Junior Championship for 2019.
Both partners have extensive experience of running racing teams, with Donnelly and Lewis having previously worked together running a Formula Vauxhall Junior team, and Lewis having also managed the ultra-successful Snetterton-based Van Diemen Formula Ford works team in the 1990s.
Lewis has recent success in racing and preparing historic Minis from his Snetterton Speedshop base, while Donnelly has been associated with the Lotus Driver development programme.
The pair, running under the Apollo Racing name, are hoping to run up to four cars in the Ginetta Junior series, for drivers between the ages of 14 and 17 years old on the support programme to the British Touring Car Championship.
“We’re the team that nobody has heard of, but everyone will know,” said Lewis. “Most of our success came before these drivers were born, so we’re determined to show a new generation what we can do and challenge at the front of the grid this season”.
“Both myself and Jonathan have been hugely impressed by what Ginetta has created with their motorsport ladder, which gives drivers the chance to go from their initiation in motorsport at 14 years of age through to LMP1 and Le Mans,” said Donnelly.
Ginetta Junior was the series which launched new McLaren Grand Prix driver Lando Norris in 2014 when he finished third in the championship, with four victories, edging out Dereham’s Dan Zelos for the position.
The new team have already signed up 15-year-old Ethan Brooks, who won the Ginetta Junior Scholarship by beating 66 other contestants in the three-day competition for the scholarship in his first experience of driving a racing car at the Blyton Park test track.
Their second driver, Alex Walker, also has had a successful karting career and has recently been testing prior to the opening event at Brands Hatch on the first weekend of April.
Closer to home, Chris West dominated the Snetterton Stages on Saturday to easily complete his hat-trick of wins at the Norfolk venue by posting fastest time on all eight stages.
“Over the moon to keep my perfect winning record at Snetterton intact,” said the victor.
West, running #1 on his Peugeot 306 Maxi, set a searing pace from the start which chief rival Mark Kelly tried to match, but the Ford Escort driver slid off the circuit at the fast Riches corner and lost 21 seconds to his rival.
Traffic problems for Kelly on stages three and four just compounded the time lost to West, who continued majestically to rule the Snetterton venue to complete a 45-second victory.
An intriguing battle was fought out over the final podium place, with Fakenham’s Stephen Tilburn fast out of the blocks to take the initiative on the open stage, but quickly pushed back down the order.
However, after the lunch break the local racer’s determination saw him push on with his Ford Escort and regain third place, despite the best efforts of Steve Finch, with his Ford Fiesta R5, which he defeated by five seconds.
“A fantastic result for us,” declared a jubilant Tilburn.
Aaron Rix, from Harleston, getting his first taste of the family’s Ford Escort Mk 1, lost 11th place after a late surge from Ray Read’s Audi Quattro with the local racer getting faster as the day progressed as he became more familiar with his mount.
Norwich’s Dale Lawson claimed second place in the Class A battle to cut into Craig Aston’s series lead as the latter could manage only fifth in the category dominated by Mark Blackmore’s well-driven Vauxhall Corsa.
Eighteenth for Long Stratton’s William Moore secured him the SCCON award while driveshaft problems knocked out Cromer’s Mark Annison and myriad issues saw Jon Scotlock from Norwich also post a retirement.