Published Monday, 12 November 2012
As this year they emerged as one of the sensations of the 2012 Ginetta Junior Championship. In their rookie year they have won the Team Championship and also became one of the most successful teams the championship has ever had by scoring podium finishes at almost every round.
Led by another Kirkistown favourite Wayne Douglas, himself a former British and Irish Formula Vauxhall Champion, the team ran Andrew Watson and Niall Murray in the British Ginetta Junior Championship, in a pair of Ginetta G40 Juniors. This high octane action packed championship is for 14-17 year old drivers and supports the very popular British Touring Car Championship whichreaches more than 19 million TV viewers annually.
The background to Douglas' young chargers is that Watson has been aided by Douglas Driver Development for the last two seasons where he was competing in the Ginetta Junior Ireland Championship and regularly ran at the front of the field. Murray is the 2010 Ginetta Junior Ireland Champion and competed in the British Ginetta Championship in 2011. He was one of the fastest drivers in the field, finishing the season fourth in the championship with two victories at Brands Hatch GP circuit and Silverstone.
The team's championship aspirations were not fully secure until the final weekend of the season in Brands Hatch. Qualifying was, as ever, a very close affair with Watson hoping to continue his superb Silverstone pace and Murray needing to ensure he was near the front to keep his championship aspirations alive. By the end of the dry session the top six was split by just 0.9 seconds but it was Watson who lead the way putting his car in second with championship contender Murray qualifying fourth along side his nearest rival Charlie Robertson.
Saturday afternoon's race one remained dry despite a cloudy sky looking rather ominous. When the lights went out it was Murray who got the best start to slip right up behind pole man Massot and by Druids was now into second just ahead of team mate Watson. Over the next sequence of laps Murray applied all his Ginetta Junior experience to find a way past the rookie driver. Watson in third was once again locked in battle with current championship leader Charlie Robertson and certainly wasn't phased by the pressure he was applying.
Back in front however it was Murray who, after a series of attempts to get into the lead now had a superb run on Massot out of the first corner and on the run up to Druids Murray threw it down the inside to move into the lead. Watson briefly found a way past into second on the following lap but Massot grabbed the place back on the following lap. At this point Murray was now in a convincing lead and as the chequered flag dropped Niall took a fine victory followed home by Watson in third.
A wet Brands Hatch GP circuit greeted the drivers for race two on Sunday morning. Murray and Watson lined up third and fourth on the grid, both keen to secure their respective positions in the championship. Despite both drivers getting a good start off the line bad luck would deny Murray any chance of moving up the order as contact from Pepe Massot left him down in tenth.
With cars now off in the gravel at Paddock Hill, the safety car came out which bunched up the group. The Safety car pulled off with just one lap to go so it was a one lap shoot out for the final positions. Sadly Watson's good run in fifth was denied as contact with Massot at Druids left him running on the grass but Murray was now in the mix to capitalise. As the flag dropped it was Murray who led the team home in fifth with Watson finishing seventh.
Team Manager Wayne Douglas expressed his delight at winning the Ginetta Junior Team Championship in their maiden season, "I'm absolutely delighted that in our rookie season in Ginetta Junior we have come out as Team Champions. Naturally we're really disappointed for Niall as he was easily one of the best drivers on the grid this season, but third is still a fantastic result in such a competitive championship. Andrew has come on leaps and bounds over the course of this season and proves that the combination of team and driver has really worked well for both our drivers given that we've been on the podium at almost every round this season."
Building on this success the Rockingham based team have recently announced their plans for 2013 and have become the latest team to commit to the new BRDC Formula 4 Championship with an initial order of two cars for the 2013 championship.
Speaking about their plans, Douglas expressed his immediate interest in this championship once it was announced. "Having spoken with Jonathan Palmer about this new championship, his vision for the series coupled with the fantastic support of his MSV Group was a key factor in our decision to join this championship for 2013. As a former McLaren Autosport BRDC Award nominee myself, I understand first hand just how significant the BRDC's support of this championship will be. With our vast experience in similar single seater race cars over the last number of years, we would aim to be leading from the front right from the off."