The Simpson Race Products Ginetta Junior Winter Series took place at Brands Hatch at the weekend (November 12-13). Rookie of the 2016 championshhp year, Dan Harper, impressed with his pace all weekend and finished in 3rd place in the overall Winter series, with Seb Priaulx claiming the title ahead of Dave Wooder. Douglas Motorsport’s newest recruit for the Winter series weekend, Connor Grady, also impressed with 3 race finishes inside the top 8 and unfortunately was a victim of the weather in race 2 when he spun out.
The weather was always expected to play a big part over the weekend, as it always does during the Winter Series, and those expectations were met on day 1. The track was wet, but that didn’t stop Dan Harper from posting the fastest time early on in Saturday’s qualifying sesson, a time which he continued to beat as the session went on. In the end Dan took pole by the largest margin of 2016 – .731 seconds. It was that same wet track that caused Dan to spin his wheels when starting race 1 and unfortunately he wasn’t able to capitalise on his well earned pole spot. However, a red flag meant the safety car was scrambled and a restart. After the restart Harper was in second place to Harry King when the two made contact, which ended Dan’s chance of a race win. He did however recover to finish 4th, with Connor Grady in 5th, both drivers having made up a place after the race due to a penalyy imposed on Harry King who dropped to 6th place from 4th.
The rain was not as heavy for race 2, but the track was still slippery and it claimed Connor Grady on lap one. Daniel Harper made up some places from his starting position and in the last few laps managed to take 3rd position, and fought for second place but there were not enough laps remaining for Dan to improve on an already impressive 3rd place. The 3rd place finish kept Dan in the mix for the overall title with a qualifying session and two races left to run on Sunday.
Harper was fighting it out at the top of the qualifying table during Sunday’s qualifying session and looked set to take pole before Seb Priaulx snatched pole with only a few minutes left in the session. It was an important result for Seb as he managed to maintain his first position throughout the race with Dan Harper taking second, a five second time penalty imposed on both drivers was still enough to keep them ahead of the chasing pack. Connor Grady, who was part of that chasing pack finished in 7th, this time losing a place due to a 5 five second penalty, a good result nevertheless.
The final race of the series saw Dan, in fourth place, battling with Dave Wooder for third place, but Dan wasn’t able to get the better of Wooder, who was also fighting to win the overall Series. Dan’s fourth place finish gave him a clear 3rd overall in the Winter Series, behind Dave Wooder in 2nd and Seb Priaulx who took the title. An eight place finish for Connor Grady meant he finished with 3 top 8 finishes, a good consistent performance from Connor, with the off in race 2 in tricky conditions the only dampener for him.
Overall it was a good result for the team and important for the drivers to get as many races under their belts, especially in tricky conditions, as they begin preparations for the 2017 season.