GREGORY & JEAKINS TAKE THE TOP STEP
The Junior Saloon Car Championship double header at Knockhill usually provides both action and unpredictable results and this year’s visit was no exception.
Only 0.335 secs covered the top three after qualifying for race one, which used the Anti Clockwise format of the circuit. Championship leader Charlie Hand was on pole, closely followed by Harvey Caton and Ruben Hage, with Ashley Gregory completing the second row.
It was red flags straightway when Chloe Grant stalled and was collected by Scott Sumpton and Travis Chapman.
Hand had got away well from pole, with Caton and Gregory side by side. Caton was tapped into a spin, but Alfie Jeakins was less fortunate as he hit the spinning Caton. “I think I came off worse and had to pit. They just ripped bits off and got me out again to score some points,” he explained.
From the restart it was Hand, Caton, Hage and Gregory to the fore, but as Gregory went for the inside it was three abreast with Hage, “it was three wide onto the straight too, which gave Ruben the inside for Turn 2,” said Hand. But Gregory was late into the chicane and as Hand braked there was contact, sending him into the gravel trap.
Gregory emerged as the new leader, but the safety car was out. “I went into the Turn three three abreast with Hand and Hage, I got some damage but it was Ok,” she said.
So it was five laps behind the safety car with Gregory followed by Hage, Matthew Cripps, Harry Rice, Caton and Tommy Gilham, before a three lap sprint to the flag.
“I managed to get away as they were fighting behind. I did take a glance in my mirror but not much, but just thought I have finally done it as I took the flag. All that hard work finally paid off,” said the victorious Gregory.
Cripps managed to find his way past Hage from the green flag, while behind them the fight for fourth saw Caton edge out Rice. Gilham completed the top six, with Harry Hickton seventh and top rookie. Despite his damage Jeakins was still eighth, with Loui Hounsell and Jamie Goode rounding off the top 10.
Hand had been recovered from the gravel and rejoined, but due to the shortness of the race, was unclassified, three laps down.
It was Clockwise for Sunday’s races, with another terrifically close battle at the front.
Hand had the lead from Jeakins and Caton, with Hage, Rice and Cripps all in contention too.
Two laps of safety car intervention followed, before it went green from lap five. That was the signal for Jeakins to pile the pressure on Hand’s lead. “I had managed to gap Alfie, but then of course the safety car bunched it all up again,” Hand explained.
The lead trio remained locked in combat, with inches to spare and for four laps Hand’s defence held firm. “I had got past Harvey at the second corner, he got me back and then I got him on switchback, but all on the first lap,” Jeakins explained.
The race was on for victory and Jeakins got closer and closer. “I got him at the last hairpin on lap nine, just went for him,” he said. Caton soon followed and suddenly Hand was down to third. “I could see Alfie was defending from Harvey in my mirrors, then he had an overshoot and tapped me as I turned in, I was into the gravel again and down to third,” said Hand
So it was Caton piling the pressure on for the final lap, taking the flag just 0.140 secs down, with Hand in his wheeltracks too. “I just felt great, as I have had to wait for this win,” Jeakins concluded, with only 0.285 secs covering all three.
Having taken Hage for fourth on lap six, Rice consolidated his place in the second half of the race, leaving Cripps and Aaron Walker to complete the top six, after Hage lost ground.
Cottam was eighth, while Hickton and Jacob Heap completed the top 10, after Gregory’s engine finally blew, after she had first lap contact with Walker.
Words by Peter Scherer
Photos by FlatOut Photography