FIESTA JUNIORS READY TO COMPLETE MEMORABLE 2020 AT CROFT
Joseph Loake took another step closer to the 2020 BRSCC Fiesta Junior Championship title at the latest rounds at Donington Park in Leicestershire with another pair of race wins, although this time he was kept under pressure all the way in both encounters.
The chasing pack of 14 cars couldn’t knock Loake off the top spot in either free practice or qualifying on Saturday, as Loake took pole with Jenson Brickley alongside him for Race 1, switching to 20Ten Racing and putting in his best performance so far. William Orton and Bradley Beavers came next followed by Dylan Hotchin and Joseph Knight, then Alex Ley, Jake Triggs, Albert Webster and Jake Weston completing the top 10.
Brickley initially got the better launch off the line and for a moment the National Ministox champion had his nose in front, but Loake held the inside line into Redgate and stayed firm to maintain the lead. But behind them, the melee kicked off as Knight tagged Triggs into a spin and as cars scattered to avoid him, Webster was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. The contact pitched Webster into a slow single rollover, thankfully landing on his wheels and remaining unharmed. Just moments later, Dylan Hotchin and George Smith went side by side into the Craner Curves, but Smith lost the back end and ended up bounding across the grass and gravel at high speed, eventually charging back onto the circuit at the Old Hairpin where he was unfortunate enough to clip Hotchin as a result.
All of this brought out an early safety car, with Loake leading from Orton, with Brickley dropping back through the first lap fracas, ahead of Knight and the fast starting pair of Weston and Ley, with Alex Sprange up to an impressive 6th place. Racing got back underway a couple of laps later and Loake tried to make a quick break with Orton and Knight looking to give chase, the former of his two pursuers managing to set the fastest lap and begin to apply some pressure for the race lead. He kept up the pace to ensure that Loake had to continue working for the win during the last few laps, but ultimately it was Joseph who held track position and therefore took his fifth consecutive win, with Orton also keeping up his run of 2nd places too. A first time podium went the way of Knight, while Alex Ley drove superbly in only his second weekend in the championship to claim 4th place in only his third circuit race ever, but had to survive late attention from Weston before Jake ended up running wide and dropping to 6th. Bradley Beavers put on a good charge to move up to 5th position, taking advantage of Weston’s last lap mistake, while Sid Smith, Alex Sprange, Mitch Marie and Briannie Davis rounded off the top 10 finishers.
Incredibly, thanks to the community spirit and effort of the entire FJC paddock ensured that Triggs, Webster and Hotchin all got back out with the rest of the field for the second race. Loake again started on pole thanks to his win in Race 1 with Orton alongside, followed by Knight, Ley and Beavers in the top five. Thankfully, everyone made it through Redgate for the first time cleanly this time, with Orton and Knight following leader Loake through, while behind them incredible starts for George Smith, Dylan Hotchin and Jenson Brickley helped them to rise up to 6th, 5th and 7th respectively by the end of the opening lap. Hotchin was shuffled back a few spots after a mishap at the Old Hairpin where he slid wide, but didn’t take long to start picking off cars around him once again. Back in the lead, it was Loake and Orton heading the pack with Knight in 3rd again, but the hard charging Beavers and Brickley were attempting to close him down throughout the first half of the race.
Orton’s strengths through certain corners were evident as he crept on to the rear bumper of Loake, giving him his strongest challenge yet this year, but it just appeared as though Loake had a little extra in reserve that allowed him to keep Orton at bay. Meanwhile, Brickley’s pace was strong enough to catch and pass Beavers and managed to claim 4th place with a third of the race to go. With just a couple of minutes left, a mechanical failure for Sprange left him stranded in the gravel exiting Roberts Chicane and with the car in a precarious position, it was decided to cover the area with yellow flags for the remainder of the encounter. This meant Loake was still unbeaten with his 6th victory from as many races, with Orton again claiming ownership of 2nd. Brickley was able to collect 3rd in the closing laps from Knight to take his first podium with 3rd, with Beavers completing the top five again. Hotchin survived a race that saw him yo-yo up and down the midfield to take 6th, while a last lap off at the Old Hairpin for Weston gave Triggs, Ley, George Davis and Smith top 10 places, leaving Jake to trundle home in 11th.
The final two races of the shortened 2020 season now take place at Croft Circuit in North Yorkshire, where the championship will be decided. Is Joseph Loake going to finish the year with an unblemished win record, or will someone deny him that satisfying achievement?