GOOD THINGS COME TO WAITE AT BRANDS OPENER

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Despite giving chase, none of Waite's rivals could keep pace all weekend - Photo: Jon Elsey

Brands Hatch in Kent saw the opening rounds of the new season for the BRSCC Fiesta Junior Championship racing with MRF Tyres, where the new tyre supplier wasn’t the only thing making its first appearance. Amongst the returning drivers of James Waite, Josh Steed, Olly Turner and Magnus Kriklywi, came the new boys aiming to begin their circuit racing career in the best possible way. Isaac Smith, Todd Garner, Nathanael Hodgkiss and Alfie Glenie were the new kids on the block as they entered their first race weekend.

Qualifying was somewhat straightforward if your name was James Waite – having topped both practice sessions, the JamSport youngster proceeded to head the time sheets again in Saturday afternoon’s session to set the grid for Race 1. Young Danish racer Kriklywi would take up the front row spot alongside him, while on the second row Isaac Smith would start his first ever race from third next to JamSport teammate Olly Turner. Nathanael Hodgkiss and Alfie Glenie were on Row 3, ahead of Todd Garner and a frustrated Josh Steed, who had to deal with a power issue on his engine that had to be fixed overnight, forcing him to start from the back of the grid.

Waite wasted no time in immediately asserting his authority on the field, as he led from pole and opened out a 1.8 second gap by the time the opening lap was over. Kriklywi hadn’t picked up such a good launch and had slipped to 6th by the end of lap 1, as both Turner and Smith made it a JamSport 1-2-3 behind Waite. At the same time, Steed’s engine issues from Saturday seemed to be a thing of the past as a rocket of a start helped him up to 4th by the end of the first tour of the Indy Circuit.

The safety car was called upon on towards the end of Lap 4 when Kriklywi’s luck ran out, as he skidded off the road at Paddock Hill Bend and into the gravel. On the restart 3 laps later, Waite quickly reopened his gap to 2nd place to 2.2 seconds which he would then continue to grow for the remainder of the race. By the time the chequered flag came out and Waite captured his first win of the season, his advantage had increased to almost 5 seconds, already leaving him in some people’s minds as an odds on favourite to claim the title. Behind him, Isaac Smith was overjoyed with a 2nd place on his debut, while 3rd place was decided just after the restart. Josh Steed managed to pounce on Turner at just the right moment to take the final podium spot for himself and was able to secure it by a second at the flag. Turner would hold on for a solid P4, ahead of Hodgkiss, Glenie and Garner.

With the race 2 grid a reflection of Race 1’s result, Waite again started on pole with Smith for company alongside. Steed was much happier starting 3rd next to Turner on the second row, ahead of Hodgkiss and Glenie on Row 3 and Garner and the now recovered Kriklywi on the fourth and final row.

Again, Waite showed he wasn’t one to hang around as pole position became a lead he wouldn’t be set to lose. Managing to gap the cars behind him by 1.4 seconds at the end of Lap 1, he continuously lapped at least 0.8 seconds quicker than the rest to eventually build up a winning margin of more than 6 seconds. It was more than a comfortable victory and one that helped cement what had become the perfect start to his FJC season. In second place, Smith again held his own and showed sufficient pace to create an advantage big enough to leave him unchallenged for 2nd place. Due to his rookie status, not only had be performed a perfect start in the Rookie Cup contest, but also earned himself the Driver of the Meeting Award for being the best of the new competitors. Olly Turner scored a popular 3rd place finish to take his second career FJC podium visit, meaning that JamSport completely swept all three podium places in rather ominous fashion.

Magnus Kriklywi scored his first points of the year in 4th place ahead of Hodgkiss, Steed and Garner, while Alfie Glenie sadly wouldn’t make the flag after a mechanical issue on his Specialized Motorsport Fiesta ST forced him out of the race around half distance.

There’s something of a gap now between Brands Hatch and the next rounds of the 2018 championship at Cadwell Park in Lincolnshire, a real driver’s circuit that will test their knowledge and development of car setup, race craft and overall driver skill. James Waite looks as though he’s undoubtedly the man to beat, but will any of his rivals have anything to say about that come the beginning of June?

You can find the full breakdown of the weekend’s TSL Timing results HERE.

Scott Woodwiss

Next Race

Cadwell Park - 2nd - 3rd Jun 2018

Last Race

Brands Hatch 24th - 25th Mar 2018

Current Standings

Driver Accrued Points Adjusted Total
1 James Waite 105 105
2 Isaac Smith 92 92
3 Olly Turner 80 80