Croft Circuit: Round Two
Former JSCC Champion Lewis Saunders secured his second consecutive winning double, but Charlie Hand and Alex Solley both edged closer to threatening his supremacy.
Saunders was on pole for the first race, with Solley alongside, while Hand headed row two of the 24 car grid form Molly Dodd. As the lights went out Saunders led through Clervaux from Solley, Hand, Jake Weston, Dodd and Harry Caton. But there was chaos behind with numerous cars off after an initial spinner and out came the red flags. But Jacob Heap, Tommy Gilham and Archie Handy were unable to take the restart, while other battle scarred Saxo’s were more fortunate.
From restart Saunders made an even better start, to pull an immediate advantage as Hand and Solley went wheel to wheel for second. Dodd was in fourth, but Jake Weston’s early fifth ended with a spin at Tower, promoting Harvey Caton and Alfie Jeakins into the early top six.
Dodd managed to go clear in fourth on the second lap, which left Caton at the head of a growing train for fifth. Back at the front Saunders cruised home for win number three 6.796 secs clear. “I just kept the pressure on myself, as I knew they would still be fighting for second. Solley made his move for second at Tower on lap seven. “I saw Charlie had understeer, so waited for the gap as I seemed to have more grip on the exit,” he said. Hand remained a close and threatening third though, with Dodd retaining a clear fourth. “I didn’t try to look behind too much,” she said.
Behind though was a huge scrap, where Jeakins lost out during a yellow flag incident and was left chasing Caton, Ben Greenhill and Ruben Hage. Caton held onto fifth, despite a slight tap from Greenhill at the Complex, while their duel had Hage closing from seventh. Matthew Cripps, Harry Rice and the recovering Weston completed the top 10, after Jeakins was tapped at the Hairpin.
Hopefully lessons had been learned from the race one start, but there were red flags again with multiple cars off again at Clervaux. Rice, Heap, Caton, Greenhill and James Wallis were all out, while the crews quickly went to work to get Ashley Gregory, Gilham and Olivia Martin back on the grid.
Saunders again had the better of a confusing start, with Solley, Hand and Weston chasing.
Solley was forced to give best to Hand at the chicane, but as Weston went for the gap too there was contact and Weston received a post-race penalty. Weston then challenged Solley again at Tower, but lost out to Jeakins, while debutant Scholarship winner Deagen Fairclough was in sixth. Although Saunders and Hand were in the clear by the end of the second lap, Solley was being caught by Jeakins, while Dodd fought her way through to the head of the sixth place battle after taking Hage and Fairclough on consecutive laps. With Weston closing on Jeakins, third to fifth became a three-car train with Solley under pressure.
Dodd continued to close too, leaving Cripps, Fairclough and Hage in a huge scrap for seventh.
Into the second half of the race Hand started to make inroads on Saunders lead, but Solley had brief respite as Jeakins and Weston went side by side from the exit of Tower through to Sunny.
Weston emerged in fourth with Solley as his next target, successfully challenging into Sunny again a lap later.
As the flag came out it was Saunders win again, but the gap was only 0.795 secs over Hand, while Weston’s post-race penalty lost him a first podium. Solley therefore was classified third, having just held off Dodd’s last lap challenge at the Hairpin. Weston dropped to fourth, with Dodd and Jenkins the rest of the top six. Cripps held off Hage for seventh with Archie Tompson and Scott Sumpton the rest of the top 10 after Oliver Cottam was tapped out exiting the Hairpin on the final lap.
Published for the Junior Saloon Car Championship by Peter Scherer, July 13th 2020