1st Central racing driver Sebastian Priaulx battled through some set-up difficulties and a harsh track limits penalty to secure a best finish of sixth and maintain his Ginetta Junior Championship points lead during a difficult seventh meeting of the season at Knockhill.
Priaulx made the annual trip north of the border determined to bounce back in style from a tough visit to Snetterton earlier this month, and it would be a long week in Scotland as he took part in three days of testing in the run up to the meeting in his JHR Developments Ginetta G40.
The sixteen year old was focused on maximising the preparation time ahead of a pivotal time of the season, and after showing promising pace throughout testing, he was right in the mix for pole position as he worked well with his team-mates during an extremely close-fought qualifying session.
Priaulx would be left frustrated therefore to end the session sixth on the timesheets, despite his best effort of 1m 02.036s being less than two tenths of a second away from pole, however his second best time would be good enough for a front row start for race two.
The opening race on Sunday would begin in positive fashion for the Guernseyman as he rose to fourth in the opening couple of laps and immediately placed himself in a multi-car battle over the race lead with many of his main championship rivals.
A slick move on his JHR Developments team-mate Tom Gamble on lap eight moved him into third position, however soon after he would see his podium hopes dashed when he was handed a five second penalty for exceeding track limits.
After being harshly dealt the punishment when none of his close rivals were despite multiple excursions off circuit themselves, Priaulx’s hard-fought run to a brilliant third position at the finish would go unrewarded as he got demoted to seventh in the classified results.
The reigning Ginetta Junior Winter Series champion aimed to bounce back in front of the live ITV4 television cameras in race two, however after a positive early few laps saw him dicing for the race lead, a mid-race safety car period brought the chasing pack into contention.
From there, Priaulx would face an uphill struggle in the closing laps as a speed deficit and a lack of rear grip with his Ginetta G40 would leave him powerless to prevent himself getting shuffled back to sixth position at the chequered flag.
Despite the weekend’s difficulties, Priaulx remains in the championship lead heading into the eighth meeting of the season at Rockingham Motor Speedway in a fortnight’s time (16/17 September), albeit by a reduced deficit of three points with eight races remaining.
Sebastian Priaulx: “We’ve really been on the backfoot all weekend, as we haven’t had the speed in our car which some of our rivals have. We knew from testing that it was going to be a difficult weekend and our deficit really showed when it came to the close racing.
“Not only that, but I was the only driver at the front to be penalised for track limits when everybody around me was going off circuit, so that’s immensely frustrating as it cost me a podium finish.
“I’m happy with the way I drove and I really feel like I couldn’t have given any more this weekend. We’ve come away still in the championship lead which is key, and now I will go to Rockingham ready to give it everything again!”