Greg Johnson produced a remarkable drive from tenth on the grid to a brilliant second podium finish of the season so far during the latest rounds of the 2018 Ginetta Junior Championship at Oulton Park this past weekend (09/10 June).
With only one previous race meeting at Oulton under his belt and no running at the circuit during pre-season, a test day in Cheshire in the weeks leading up to the event would prove vital for Johnson to get back up to speed with the unique 2.27 mile circuit.
The Fanatical backed driver would get some more crucial mileage under his belt during official pre-event testing on Friday, with a productive day of running seeing him finish sixth fastest overall as he worked with the Elite Motorsport team on their set-up for the weekend.
Unfortunately some tweaks to the Ginetta G40 ahead of qualifying on Saturday afternoon would not pay off for Johnson, as issues with the balance of the car left him unable to replicate his Friday pace, leaving him eleventh and tenth fastest for the two races.
A grid penalty for another driver ensured Johnson would line up tenth for the opening encounter later that day, with a fantastic getaway seeing him storm past a number of cars heading through Old Hall corner for the first time to get towards the tail of the top six.
Unfortunately his charge would be hampered only two corners later as contact at the Island hairpin pushed him back to ninth position and left him with damage to his Ginetta, which made the rest of the race a real challenge for the Rugeley-based racer.
With his tracking having been knocked out, Johnson was unable to commit fully through the high-speed corners, which left him under threat from the drivers behind. A great drive would see him keep them at bay though to take the finish in eighth.
Johnson headed into Sunday’s race in positive spirits and in front of a huge trackside crowd and the live ITV4 television cameras, another fantastic launch off the line ensured he made immediate progress as he picked his way through some incidents ahead to take sixth.
That put Johnson on the tail of a fierce four-way battle which ended up coming to blows at the chicane on lap four, with an intelligent piece of driving from the sixteen year old seeing him avoid the chaos and seize the moment to emerge in second place.
While he would unfortunately slip to third a couple of laps later, a composed drive saw him maintain a clear gap to the pack behind on his way to the chequered flag and a superb third place finish in his Driving Test Success and Staffordshire Car Care backed Ginetta.
Johnson’s second podium finish of the season has put him sixth in the points standings as he prepares to head to North Yorkshire in two weeks’ time (23/24 June) for the next three rounds of the 2018 Ginetta Junior Championship at Croft.
Greg Johnson: “After qualifying, I really didn’t expect to come away from the weekend with a podium finish, so to get this result is a fantastic feeling and I feel it’s a great reward for all mine and the team’s efforts across the meeting.
“We made some good improvements over the course of free practice and I felt confident in our pace for the weekend, so it was frustrating that it didn’t go our way in qualifying and that certainly put us on the backfoot for the races.
“I was pleased with my start in the opening race, but sadly I couldn’t do much more after the contact. We came back stronger for race two though and it all seemed to fall into place for us. I focused on keeping out of trouble and it worked out well.
“It’s a nice feeling to have had my head down low and then end the weekend on such a high. I now head to Croft in good spirits and following a positive test there recently, I’m confident we can be challenging for the podium once again.”
Images from Jakob Ebrey Photography.