Updated: Jun 14
There just seems to be no stopping Lewis Saunders in this years Junior Saloon Car Championship.
Another double victory, his fifth so far this season was one of the few highlights among the chaos and red flags that plagued the visit to the Leicestershire Circuit.
It was a good clean start to race one, with Saunders leading from pole, as Deagen Fairclough, Ashley Gregory and
Charlie Hand made it a four car break by the end of lap two.
After Gregory had pushed for second at the Esses, she then had Hand challenging as they exited the Hairpin.
After a trip across the grass at the Esses a lap later Hand lost ground on his three rivals and with Alex Solley in fifth, the top five were evenly spread.
But Hand was over the grass at the Esses again on lap five which allowed Solley to close in, increasing his gap to the lead trio.
Matthew Cripps had run in sixth from the start, while behind him Harry Rice had been under pressure from Ben Greenhill.
On the ninth lap however, Rice’s front suspension collapsed exiting the Esses and he forced to park up. The red flags were out, but it was win number nine for Saunders and a first podium for both Fairclough and Gregory, having stayed in close formation throughout.
“I had been tapped a couple of times by Ben, but there was no warning when the suspension went,” Rice explained.
“I had a lot of pressure from Ashley and spent as much time looking in my mirrors as forward. She had a try at the Hairpin up the inside on one occasion and I had slight understeer and one touch with the grass at the Esses, but second place, great,” Fairclough enthused.
There was a big smile in the Gregory camp to, “good start, got a bit sideways challenging Deagen on the second lap at the Hairpin, so I had to back out. Great race though,” she explained.
Hand and Solley had closed again in fourth and fifth, with Cripps completing the top six.
Greenhill was seventh and the top 10 was completed was Molly Dodd, Alfie Jeakins and Archie Tompson.
Hand was satisified with his fourth place. “I had understeer from the start, but overdrove to compensate and went over the grass at the Esses twice. I had one chance to challenge Ashley and then Alex Solley had a go at me,” he said.
“I missed fourth gear a couple of times through Devils Elbow, good race though,” Solley added.
The second race was again Saunders leading the way into Gerards, as Gregory and Greenhill joined a three-car break on the second lap.
But yellow flags were out which soon became red. “I was turned into the inside wall at the Hairpin and pitched into the air after contact with someone. It broke the front suspension and I couldn’t get clear,” said Jeakins after being stranded on the racing line at Devils Elbow.
Tommy Gilham lost control of his car as he took avoiding action, glanced the left hand barrier, before going across the track to the opposite side, taking out James Wallis too.
So the restart was initially clean again, with Saunders heading Gregory, but Hand was into third at Greenhill’s expense.
Fairclough had dropped from fifth with a sideways moment exiting Gerards, but exiting the Hairpin for the third time, Scott Sumpton and Aaron Walker wanted the same piece of track, which turned Sumpton sharp right into the wall, and took out the following Ruben Hage too.
Hand also crashed out heavily when he was unsighted at the red flag.
One more attempt to run the race at the end of the day lasted a matter of seconds, when Gregory stalled on the front row, with Cripps rolling and Archie Handy hitting the barrier to.
The race was hen declared at two laps completed earlier, so it was win number 10 for Saunders, from Gregory, Greenhill, Solley, Rice and Cripps.
Words: Peter Scherer
Images: Peter Scherer