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BRDC Stars of Tomorrow
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Despite the addition of Philip Haworth to the fold, several absences had reduced the number of Junior Rotax competitors to a still very healthy 26 with all eyes on Scottish duo Robert Gilmour and Ross Dougan, who entered the weekend sitting 1-2 in the championship standings. But with just 41 points separating the top six drivers both Gilmour and Dougan knew that they had a fight on their hands to keep their overall advantage.
The opening heat saw a relatively untroubled win for Kenneth Andrews, the driver closest to Gilmour and Dougan in the standings, as the Orsett based driver capitalised on a front row grid slot to pass polesitter Tom Ingram on lap one. Ingram also found himself passed by an aggressive Gemma Stephenson on the opening lap but Andrews had an answer for all challengers on this occasion.
The fight for second spot was intense with Stephenson, Ingram, Daniel Lloyd and Dougan all scrapping away merrily throughout the 12-lap distance. Dougan eventually broke free to take second from Lloyd, Stephenson, Ingram and Gilmour, who started as far back as 18th.
Heat two was all about Max Hawkins, who finished eighth in the first race and made quick work of polesitter Matthew Gibson to lead all 12 laps and take the win by a comfortable two and a half seconds. Not stymied by a poor grid position on this occasion Gilmore had an equally trouble-free run to second although was somewhat surprised as his inability to catch the inch perfect Hawkins.
The first real scrap of the race came over third position, a scrap involving Andrews and Kalvin Quinn. Andrews finally prevailed, passing the Whitehaven based driver on lap ten although Quinn had enough in hand to keep hold of fourth from Ingram.
Matthew Mason and Aaron Woods both enjoyed their best runs for some time en-route to sixth and seventh places respectively as Stephenson, Dougan and Lloyd among others failed to get through the traffic from low starting positions. Stephenson and Dougan both salvaged top ten results, finishing eighth and ninth but Lloyd had to settle for twelfth after an opening lap excursion saw him drop as low as 20th.
Poleman Jack Goff led 11 of the 12 laps in heat three but not the one that matters as Chris Smiley atoned for a heat one DNF with a fantastic last lap lunge to snatch the victory. Lloyd was catching them both at the chequered flag after emerging from a great scrap for third between himself, Dougan and Craig Stirling while the plucky Stirling had to make do with fifth in a race where he held Lloyd and Dougan at bay until three laps from the end. Hawkins claimed sixth followed by Andrews, Gilmour, Quinn and Stephenson.
After a very evenly matched set of heats the stage was set for the final with Andrews on pole from Hawkins, Dougan, Gilmour, Lloyd, Ingram, Stephenson and Quinn with any one of up to a dozen drivers having proved that they had the capability to win.
The race itself didn’t disappoint as Dougan made the best start from row two to take the early lead from Hawkins and a slow starting Andrews while Lloyd and Ingram clashed on the run into turn one and both lost valuable momentum. Gilmour also made a poor getaway and slipped as low as ninth before fighting back to fifth at the end.
Up front Andrews quickly moved back into second place and, on lap ten following a steady chase, made his move for the lead. Andrews’ first strike signalled the start of several laps of spellbinding racing as Dougan fought back on lap 11 only to concede the lead once again a lap later. Suitably fired up the Scotsman retook the lead on lap 13 before Andrews finally retook the lead for good going into turn seven on lap 14. Andrews was then able to keep his nose ahead for the final two laps to win by six tenths with Lloyd passing Stephenson and Hawkins in the final three laps to claim the final podium position just over one second behind the leaders.
Hawkins, Gilmour and Stephenson completed the top six with
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