Will Martin produced one of the drives of the year to end his 2019 Michelin Ginetta Junior Championship season in perfect fashion with victory at Brands Hatch (12/13 October).
Martin headed into the season finale in confident mood following a race win last time out at Silverstone, with the East Sussex racer keen to end his 2019 campaign on a similar note as he returned to Brands Hatch for the second time this season.
In a similar situation to Silverstone, poor weather conditions coupled with a number of red flags meant the Lining Division backed racer saw his track time heavily disrupted during official free practice on Friday.
The final 15-minute qualifying session of 2019 began in greasy conditions and was red flagged after just five minutes. Another red flag followed shortly after, but fortunately Martin got a clear lap in right at the end and went fifth fastest.
The first race of the weekend started in very slippery conditions, but Martin was able to make a decent start and avoided first lap drama at Paddock Hill Bend. A lock-up under braking at the next corner pushed him wide though and he slipped to seventh.
A fantastic drive from there saw him battle back through to the front of the field. Behind the wheel of his Cobra Insurance backed Ginetta G40, Martin made a last gasp effort to overtake Ethan Brooks on the final lap to secure third place at the finish.
The 16 year old started a lowly 16th for race two courtesy of his second best qualifying time and unfortunately saw multiple safety car periods limit his chance to make progress during a very wet and dark Saturday evening in Kent.
Getting his way through to sixth on the penultimate lap, it was a nightmare end on the final tour as a tap from one of his opponents at Paddock Hill Bend led to him spinning and being collected heavily by another driver. Fortunately he emerged physically unscathed.
The same couldn’t be said for his car however and after initially believing he wouldn’t be making it to the grid for the final race of the season, the Richardson Racing team worked flat out and got him out on track.
This proved to be an inspired decision as in front of the live ITV4 television cameras, Martin went on a charge. From 19th on the grid, he was up to fifth position after only four racing laps and gained two more spots next time around.
Heading onto lap seven, a stunning move around the outside of one driver at Paddock Hill and then another down in the inside at Druids secured him the race lead. Almost immediately the safety car appeared on track and eventually the race was red flagged.
Martin therefore secured a sensational ninth win of the season from 19th on the grid, ensuring he ends the season with two more victories than anybody else and a top three championship finish.
Will Martin: “It’s crazy to think that’s the 2019 Michelin Ginetta Junior Championship over and done with. It feels like just yesterday when the season started. I came into the finale weekend in positive spirits and the aim to end the season on a high.
“On Friday, it felt like being back at Silverstone. The weather wasn’t great and we had a number of red flags which meant the sessions were a bit stop, start. I felt really good in the car though and I was looking forward to the weekend.
“Qualifying was so frustrating. Every time I was on a lap, the red flag came out. I was glad I could get a time in so that for race one I was at least starting in fifth position, though I was on the backfoot for race two.
“I was quite lost for words after the opening race. It was a very tricky start to navigate, I just kept calm and battled my way through the field and snatched third place on the last lap which was great.
“The second race was unbelievable. We shouldn’t have raced in those conditions, it was too dark at the end of the race and with no front headlights it was very tricky to see. I got a tap at the rear at Paddock Hill, tried to correct it, and the car just snapped and sent me right into the path of an oncoming car.
“On Sunday morning, we didn’t see the point in running but my sponsor Darren Morgan Owen from Lining Division really wanted me to make sure that I took part in the race. It turned out we turned what could have been a low into an amazing high, so thank you to him.
“I took advantage of everyone battling in front of me through the race, kept calm and took the opportunities that came my way. To win the race from 19th on the grid was completely unexpected but I’m over the moon.
“Overall it’s been a brilliant weekend to end a phenomenal year. I’m so happy with how it’s gone. Nine wins, 11 podiums and third in the championship has surpassed my expectations and it’s been my best season in racing so far for sure.”
Image from Jakob Ebrey Photography.