Greg Johnson fought back from a difficult qualifying session to record a brilliant top five finish around the fastest circuit in the UK, Thruxton, during the third meeting of the 2018 Ginetta Junior Championship this past weekend (19/20 May).
The Fanatical backed driver headed into the meeting in positive spirits after securing a breakthrough podium finish three weeks’ prior at Donington Park, and he got his weekend off to a strong start as he posted the fourth fastest time during Saturday’s free practice session.
Basking in the Hampshire sunshine, Johnson was unlucky not to repeat that level of performance in qualifying. With the hot temperatures causing challenges for the Michelin tyres, he knew he only had one shot at securing a quick lap-time.
Unfortunately traffic in front of him heading around the high-speed Noble corner meant that Johnson couldn’t show his full potential on his best lap, which left him eighth on the grid for both of Sunday’s races in his Driving Test Success and Staffordshire Car Care supported Ginetta G40.
The opening encounter would prove to be one of the most entertaining races of the season so far, with Johnson immediately getting into the thick of the action as he rose to sixth early on, which placed him right in the middle of what developed into a seven car battle for the race lead.
Taking full advantage of the slipstreaming nature of the circuit to keep pressure on the drivers ahead, the sixteen year old would produce some fantastic wheel-to-wheel racing as he fought though to fifth position by the chequered flag.
Encouraged by that result, Johnson headed into race two eager to put on a strong display in front of the live ITV4 television cameras, and a brilliant start to proceedings saw him work his way into fourth place by the end of lap three in his Elite Motorsport machine.
The Staffordshire-based racer would briefly move into the final podium position, however unfortunate contact with a car who was trying to avoid an incident ahead had left him with a damaged front-end, which proved critical as the race developed.
With the damage causing the bonnet to flap open, the resulting loss of aero meant that Johnson was losing speed around the back of the circuit compared to his rivals, leaving him powerless to prevent himself from slipping to ninth at the finish.
The two top ten finishes ensure that Johnson has only finished lower than tenth once so far this year, with that consistency leaving him seventh in the points standings heading into the next rounds at Oulton Park in Cheshire in three weeks’ time (09/10 June).
Greg Johnson: “The weekend started strongly in free practice and that gave us positive vibes for the action ahead, however unfortunately qualifying didn’t go to plan with traffic costing me my best lap and that put us on the backfoot for the races.
“The opening race was exciting and I enjoyed being right in the thick of the lead battle, going wheel-to-wheel around the high-speed corners. We carried that momentum into the start of race two, however unfortunately the incident stopped our progress.
“We come away with plenty of positives though, the pace was clearly there and I raced well in the pack, and hopefully we can carry that on at Oulton Park. We showed promising pace in testing there during pre-season and we’ll be pushing hard to get back on the overall podium.”
Images from Jakob Ebrey Photography.