|TWO WINS FROM FOUR HELP SEAL VICE-CHAMPION|
Total Control Racing's Dave Wooder only just missed out on the Ginetta Junior Winter Series title at Brands Hatch Indy Circuit over the weekend, 12th/13th November, during a highly-charged final race at his 'home' track on Sunday afternoon.
Only completing a true eleventh hour deal to return to the Wednesbury squad during the build-up to the end-of-year race meeting, Wooder – who finished fourth in the main Ginetta Junior Championship with TCR – won the first two races on Saturday and went on to add two further podiums on Sunday.
Jordan Collard, who made big strides during his maiden season of car racing this year in Ginettas, starred with some excellent race performances but misfortune along the way limited him to a top 10 series finish. Morgan Quinn, meanwhile, made an impressive transition from Ginetta Junior Ireland to secure the Rookie victory in his maiden race on English soil, before ending the campaign eighth.
"It's been a good weekend for the team, we came so close to winning the championship with Dave [Wooder] but it wasn't to be unfortunately", said TCR's Lee Brookes, "We didn't know Dave would be racing until the last minute and he wasn't in his regular car, the handling was all good but we just lacked a bit of power. He still took a couple of great wins though and raced very strongly.
"Jordan and Morgan both did a great job, Jordan's pace is there and his racecraft is improving all the time – there's a huge amount of potential. It was great working with Morgan for the first time, he's come into the championship fresh and proven he's a quick and talented young driver."
For round one on Saturday, which took place on a very wet track just like the earlier qualifying session, Wooder lined-up fourth on the grid with Quinn starting eighth – highest placed Rookie – but Collard had to start from the back, in 17th place, after an excursion in the grid-determining session.
Wooder maintained fourth for the first couple of laps before the Safety Car made the first of two appearances. When the action resumed on lap six, the TCR racer challenged for third place and then duly moved into the lead the next time around with some great driving.
Following another Safety Car period which was triggered on lap eight, racing resumed again on lap 11 for a two-lap dash to the flag and Wooder didn't put a wheel wrong in the tricky wet conditions to get his title bid off to a perfect start.
Team-mates Quinn and Collard also impressed. The former fought back well after losing a couple of positions on the first lap, climbing back into ninth by the end of lap two but an enhanced eighth on the road due to a time penalty for Tom Gamble. Maintaining eighth, and the Rookie lead, Quinn went on to pip Charlie Digby for seventh at the flag and also took away the fastest Rookie lap.
Collard delivered an absolutely sensational first lap to hoist himself into contention, scorching through the pack to rocket from 17th place into 11th position. Moving into the top 10 before the first Safety Car period, ninth on corrected times, Collard remained there to the conclusion.
Thanks to his opening round victory Wooder lined-up on pole position for race two and although edged back to second off the line by Sebastian Priaulx, the TCR man swiftly hit-back to regain the lead before the Safety Car was deployed due to a car in the Paddock Hill Bend gravel.
When racing got back underway on lap four, Wooder came under increasing pressure from Priaulx but he didn't put a wheel wrong in the wet conditions and with an impeccable performance went on to seal his second victory of the day to reach the halfway point of the Winter Series unbeaten.
From seventh on the grid, and the Rookie pole-position, Quinn was initially edged back to ninth place overall but maintained the lead of his class. Moving back up into the top eight on lap four, three laps later he was edged back to ninth and second in class by Rookie rival Harry Dyson but Quinn moved back into eighth overall before the finish after a spin for team-mate Collard.
The moment on lap nine for Collard was particularly cruel as he had, once again, delivered a superb performance to that point. Slicing through from ninth at the start into fifth on lap one alone, he maintained position just outside the top four until lap nine. As he exited Druids, the rear of the car got away and he made contact with barriers – although did manage to recover into 10th place.
Sunday morning's qualifying also took place on a wet track with Wooder ending up with the third fastest time, Collard eighth and Quinn 12th quickest – third in the Rookie class. Wooder, who went into the second day of action with a 10-point championship lead, maintained third on the first lap of round three and remained there to mid-distance when edged back to fourth and, soon after, fifth.
Determined to recover back into the podium placings, and minimise the threat to his title hopes, Wooder superbly managed to steal third on the final lap during a dramatic dash to the line – pipping Dyson and Gamble by fractions.
Collard, too, had to mount a recovery after slipping down to 10th place on the ninth tour. Running behind Quinn at that point, who himself had to fight-back from 12th spot early on, Collard moved back into the top eight with eight laps to run – the pair finishing eighth and ninth respectively.
For the all-important fourth and final round on Sunday afternoon, Wooder again had to settle for the final step on the rostrum and only missed out on the championship victory by 10 points as a result. Holding third place during the early exchanges, he grabbed second on lap six but was edged back to third again at the halfway point during a huge battle with Gamble.
Collard made one of his customary good starts and put together a strong first lap, rising into sixth place and then breaking into the top five on lap four. Despite being shuffled back to 10th position late on, Collard battled back into an eventual finish of ninth.
From the fifth row of the grid, Quinn was initially nudged down to 12th place and then lost three more places on the second tour. With a mountain to climb, he impressively worked his way back into second in the Rookie class and 11th place overall to cap a strong weekend.