Greg Johnson fought back from a difficult qualifying session to record a superb pair of top six finishes in the Ginetta Junior Championship at Snetterton this past weekend (28/29 July), results that have moved him into the top six of the championship standings.
Johnson, who passed his driving test in the week leading up to the event, would take everything learnt from a test at the Norfolk circuit earlier in the month and start the meeting with a strong day of running in official Friday practice, finishing up fourth on the timesheets in the second session.
That would come in the peak of the summer heatwave with temperatures reaching nearly 34 degrees Celsius, however there would be a dramatic change of conditions overnight and torrential rain greeted Johnson as he headed out for qualifying on Saturday morning.
Unfortunately the Staffordshire racer’s chances of a strong session were hampered by a broken wiper motor, with vastly reduced visibility in the spray meaning that Johnson would only be able to secure ninth and twelfth on the grid for races one and two that afternoon.
With the sunshine bursting through the clouds shortly after qualifying finished, the track was completely dry again by the time Johnson took to the grid in his Fanatical-backed Ginetta G40 to start the opening encounter.
It proved to be a tough first couple of laps for the Elite Motorsport driver as he got shuffled back to twelfth position, however a good battling performance from there saw him pick his way through to ninth place at the chequered flag.
The second race started in much more positive fashion for Johnson though as he gained four places to seventh on the opening lap, before climbing up to third place briefly on lap two before he was sadly the victim of contact.
Spun back to fifteenth, Johnson was a man on a mission to regain the lost ground and a sensational comeback saw him rise seven places in the next lap alone to settle in the top ten, before further progress over the remainder of the race netted him a superb sixth place finish.
That result filled the Driving Test Success and Staffordshire Car Care supported driver with confidence heading into the final race of the weekend on Sunday, which would be televised live on ITV4 and take place in front of a big crowd in Norfolk.
With the track drying following heavy morning rainfall, staying on the wet line would be crucial to maintain grip on the greasy surface, and Johnson kicked off proceedings in style with a fantastic launch off the line moving him up to third.
That was short-lived unfortunately as he slipped back to fifth through the first corner, however he would regain a spot on the next lap as he got himself straight into the thick of the action within a multi-car battle for the final podium position.
Slipping back to fifth a couple of laps later, Johnson would settle into a great rhythm in the tricky conditions to maintain the position to the chequered flag, with his seventh top six finish of the season so far moving him up to sixth in the points standings.
Greg Johnson: “The issue with the wipers in qualifying was a real shame and that put us on the back foot for the opening two races, with the first race being particularly frustrating as I was hoping to make some more progress up the field.
“I was able to do that in race two though, and not once but twice. Without the contact, I feel we could have been on for a podium position with the pace we showed fighting back through from fifteenth to sixth at the finish.
“To then be battling around the top three in different conditions on Sunday was another positive sign for us. Coming away from the weekend with two top six finishes is a great result, and now we have to build on it and challenge for the podium next time out.”
Next up for the 2018 Ginetta Junior Championship is a visit to Rockingham in Corby for Rounds 16, 17 and 18 in two weeks’ time (11/12 August).
Image from Jakob Ebrey Photography