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FIESTA JUNIOR RETROSPECTIVE – 2012 SEASON: PART 1

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Charlie Ladell secure the inaugural Fiesta Junior title - Photo: John Cooper

As we wait for on-track action to get back underway to allow us to begin the 2020 Fiesta Junior season, we’ve decided to look back through previous seasons and give you a detailed run through of every driver that competed in that respective year, how they got on and, where possible, where they ended up after they graduated from the championship. This in turn will showcase just how many talented drivers have passed through our paddock and on to racing success!

We start from the very beginning and the first Fiesta Junior Championship season in 2012. After the series performed demo runs at the previous year’s Formula Ford Festiva in 2011l, it began its first full campaign on a damp April afternoon at Silverstone before competing across a further seven weekends, ending back at the Festival in October at Brands Hatch to complete the season. Here’s Part 1 of a rundown of the championship table from top to bottom.
 

CHAMPION – CHARLIE LADELL – 228pts

The first ever Fiesta Junior champion started as he meant to go on by taking pole position for the inaugural race at Silverstone with WDE Motorsport and despite leading into Copse for the first time, he lost the lead to Freddie Lee before an early safety car closed the field up. After losing out to JJ Ross on the restart, Charlie repassed him for 2nd and tailed Lee to the flag for his first podium, finishing on his bumper but scoring the same amount of points thanks to pole and fastest lap. A front row start for race two allowed Ladell to take the lead halfway round the first lap and drove on to his first victory, once again scoring fastest lap. More wet conditions followed at Snetterton, but Charlie once again proved his pace in the adverse weather by almost taking a full score with two wins, two pole position points and the fastest lap from race one, relatively unchallenged in both races except for once again required to overhaul Lee in the opening laps of the second race.

Two more victories came his way at Donington Park supporting the International V8 Superstars race meeting on the GP circuit, leading both races from lights to flag but chased on both occasions by teammate Jack Mitchell as the pair became the main championship contenders. In fact, Ladell had to fend off a last-lap challenge from Mitchell in the second race, only just stealing the win by a mere 0.013 seconds! The rain returned for the trip north to Cadwell Park, where Ladell again went into combat with teammate and spent the entire first race on Mitchell’s rear bumper to take 2nd place. An early mistake in race two dropped him behind Mitchell again from the lead, before dropping out in retirement. A tough qualifying at Rockingham left him 6th on the grid, but an engine issue forced him out of race one, leaving the WDE team to change it in time for the second race which saw him salvage a 5th place.

A storming start at Brands Hatch from the second row helped him win race one at a canter, before chasing Aiden Moffat for most of race two and passing him into Paddock Hill Bend to take the lead. Despite late attention from JJ Ross, Ladell completed the double to maintain his points lead with just two meetings left. Another pole came Charlie’s way on the return to Snetterton in the dry, before surviving a mid-race safety car to win with the fastest lap. The second race again saw a challenge from Ross as well as Ben Wilcox, but neither could prevent him from doing the double to leave him in prime position for the title heading to the final rounds. At Brands Hatch, more damp conditions appeared but nothing could stop Charlie from charging to the win to clinch the championship title in the process. The final race saw him wrap up 2012 with a second place behind race winner Moffat.

Charlie stayed in Fiestas for 2013, moving into the senior championship where he completed the season with a sole pole position at Castle Combe and a best finish of 4th place at the opening rounds at Silverstone. Alongside a handful of Fiesta drives the next year, Ladell contested the second half of the Renault UK Clio Cup before tackling a full season in 2015 with multiple top 5 and top 10 finishes to finish 5th in points. Another full season in Clios came next in 2016 where he scored his first two podiums on the way to 9th in the standings, before a step up into the Ginetta GT4 SuperCup for 2017. Two third places and a second were his best finishes as he wound up 7th in points, but 2018 would see him bring it all together. He only finished off the podium twice all season, completed every race and scored ten wins to clinch the GT4 SuperCup crown. 2019 saw Charlie progress into European competition, racing in the VLN series in Germany in a Porsche Cayman where he scored a 3rd place in class in his third race. He also followed this up with a 4th in class at the Nurburgring 24 Hours driving a Ginetta.


2ND – JACK MITCHELL – 193pts

Jack progressed through Honda Cadet, Formula Kart Stars and Super One karting to make his circuit racing debut in 2012 with WDE Motorsport and began his FJC campaign tentatively with a 4th place in the opening Silverstone race, before going one better in the second to score his first podium with 2nd place. This helped set the tone for his fortunes in the rest of the year, as this was followed up by a hard fought 3rd in the first wet race at Snetterton after a race long battle with Ross and Lee, before dicing with Lee again early in Race 2 to steal 2nd place and chased down Ladell until the flag, also taking fastest lap. A front row start at the Donington Park GP rounds for Race 1 was converted into a 2nd place behind Ladell, but the second race could have been a different outcome as Jack once again reeled in Ladell and dived up the inside at the final corner to momentarily take the lead, before he was out-dragged to the line and beaten by just 0.013 seconds! Despite this, Mitchell took two more fastest laps and the points to go with them.

Mitchell scored his first pole at a wet Cadwell Park, converting it into a lead that he would never lose as he batted away constant attention from Ladell to eventually take his first win by a slender margin. Jack then capitalised on Ladell running wide in the early laps to steal back the lead after he lost it from pole, and when his teammate retired Mitchell was left out in front to complete an easy double and snatch the championship in the process. Next up was Rockingham, where Jack spent the entire race chasing eventual winner JJ Ross but still collected useful points in 2nd, while in the second race an early pass from the lead left him to defend hard from Ross for the remainder of the encounter. He survived a last lap attack to hold off Ross to the flag, taking his third win from the last four races.

Jack’s Brands Hatch meeting didn’t quite begin as he’d hoped as he jumped the start of Race 1 from the front row and drove a more subdued race to finish 6th and two laps down with a mechanical issue. His second race was equally quiet as he only managed to improve to 4th. A new orange colour scheme was hoped to be a return to form heading back to Snetterton, but another 4th place in Race 1 wasn’t ideal but still allowed him to retain the points lead on gross scores. Another tough race left him finishing back in 7th place, relinquishing the championship lead in the process to Ladell by just two points as the season finale at Brands Hatch loomed. At Kent, Mitchell made contact with Ben Wilcox early on forced him into the pits and the resulting 9th place finish forced him to concede the title to Ladell in the process.

After Fiesta Juniors, Jack moved into two seasons of Ginetta Juniors in which he managed to win the title in 2014, before moving into both MINI Challenge and the Renault UK Clio Cup for 2015. Jack made his first venture into the British GT Championship in 2016 alongside stepping up into Ginetta GT4 SuperCup, and competed in both the following year too. Then came the best year of his career to date as in 2018, Mitchell would not only win the China GT Championship but also took sole occupancy of the GT4 title in the British GT Championship with Century Motorsport and BMW. A switch to GT3 in the UK came in 2019, also with Century and BMW, where he managed to finish 10th in the class standings.


3rd – JAMES “JJ” ROSS – 184pts

After karting since the age of 8, JJ made his circuit racing debut in 2012 in the Fiesta Junior Championship and immediately made an impact at the opening Silverstone rounds as he battled hard to take a 3rd place in the first race, followed by a 4th place in the second. An exciting battle with Aidan Moffat in the first Snetterton race saw him fall foul of the wet conditions, as he spun off at Brundle while trying to pass the young Scot and had to settle for 7th place in the end. The second race in Norfolk saw him resume his duel with Moffat, but a collision with Louis Millar midway through once again left him taking the flag in 7th, far behind his rivals.

His fortunes didn’t quite improve at Donington as a rollover at the Old Hairpin in qualifying left the Daniels Motorsport squad with work to do to ensure he car as race ready again. Starting 5th for the first race, Ross drove a rather quiet race to finish where he began. A cracking start in the second race saw him in 3rd by the end of the opening lap, but then had to endure the attentions of Ben Wilcox for several laps until a mistake into Redgate put him back into a podium position. He would hold it until the flag to pick up his second rostrum visit of the season with the half way point approaching fast.

Ross missed the following rounds at Cadwell Park, reappearing at Rockingham with a vengeance as he took his first pole position in qualifying. In something of a flawless drive, JJ was virtually unchallenged and drove on to clinch his first Fiesta Junior win before a race long battle with Charlie Ladell in the second encounter eventually left him finishing in P2 after leading early on. Up next as Brands Hatch in the sunshine and an ambitious move to the outside of Moffat into Paddock Hill Bend left him catching a tankslapper of a slide before losing a drag race to the flag to score 3rd place. This was followed in race two by a strong pursuit of Moffat and Ladell in the lead group, which culminated in a superb pass into Druids to steal 2nd before hassling Ladell to the flag.

The return to Snetterton saw JJ reach 2nd place before a safety car in race one kept him on Ladell’s tail, but Ross dropped back on the restart and had to settle for 2nd again. An early challenge for the lead in the second race left him battling with Wilcox, losing a place to him before an issue for Ben dropped him back and handed the place back to JJ. A slightly eventful opening lap to the first race at the Brands Hatch finale led to a fairly subdued drive to 4th place, before a two-part second race after a red flag left Ross to make a slow start and battle his way up to a podium finish with 3rd.

2013 was a superb year for JJ as he would charge to the Fiesta Junior title and become the series’ second champion, before moving up into the senior ranks of the Fiesta Championship for two and a half seasons which included winning the Class C and overall titles in 2015. A move into the Clio Cup came next in 2017, seeing JJ contest championships in the UK, France and Spain and even reaching the Clio Cup Finale Internationale at Paul Ricard in 2018.

 

4TH - AIDEN MOFFAT - 157pts

Aiden’s 2012 season started with a battle with JJ Ross at Silverstone that eventually saw him lose out and pick up 4th place on his circuit racing debut, followed up by a race long scrap with Ben Wilcox in the second race that day that resulted in 8th. After a tentative start in the opening races, Aiden was able to get up to speed in the wet at the first Snetterton visit with a brilliant battle with Ross in the early stages until JJ spun off the road at Nelson, before he was forced out of the race with an issue. In equally treacherous conditions in the second race, Moffat dealt with both Ross and Louis Millar but was unable to make the flag when the two aforementioned drivers came together with Aiden getting caught up as an innocent party.

With a double DNF, Moffat was keen to bounce back at Donington and a superb qualifying put him on the second row for the first race. Once again, he found himself in an early battle with Wilcox but once he’d settled down into a rhythm he was able to drive away from the cars behind him and pick up an unchallenged 3rd place, his first podium of the season and of his burgeoning circuit racing career. His main adversary for the season, Ben Wilcox, would yet again feature in the second race as after dropping back in the early stages, Moffat capitalised on a mistake to snatch 4th place, before the pair went wheel to wheel for the position including banging doors side by side through the Craner Curves! He would go on to hold 4th for the remainder of the race to round off his best weekend to date.

The weather played its part at Cadwell Park as the season reached the halfway stage and Moffat battled through the rain to take a 3rd place in the first race after pressure from Bobby Thompson, while he had to survive a rallycross-style moment in Race 2 when he flew sideways across the grass at the entrance to The Mountain, leaving him to dice with that man Wilcox and Freddie Lee over what would have been 2nd place had Wilcox’s last gasp attempt to pass at the final corners left Moffat bouncing off the barrier and ending up 5th instead. The trio would meet again in on-track combat next time out at Rockingham, submitting to Wilcox’s attacks but managing to resist Lee in Race 1, followed by the same result in the second race.

The ongoing Moffat-Wilcox rivalry moved on to the first Brands Hatch visit of the season with Moffat impressing with 2nd place in the first race before leading most of the way in the second encounter until contact broke his steering and forced him to retire. More strife came at Snetterton when late braking left him clattering into the side of Wilcox and retiring on the spot, but he was able to pick his way back through the field in the second race to collect a top-five finish. However, Aiden was able to end his year on a high at the Brands Hatch finale, as after clinching a 2nd place to begin the weekend, he followed it up with his first win in circuit racing in the final race of the year, learning from his previous visit to keep Ladell and Ross at bay to reach the top step of the podium.

Amazingly less than a year later, Aiden would become the youngest driver ever to make their BTCC debut, a championship he’s competed in ever since and has seen him grow stronger and stronger every year. He has three career race wins to date courtesy of his own family-run Laser Tools Racing team and is getting set to contest the amended 2020 season alongside 2017 champion Ash Sutton in an Infiniti Q50.

Join us next time when Part 2 will see us delve into the next few drivers from the 2012 season!

Next Race

Donington Park - 17th - 18th Oct 2020

Last Race

Silverstone National 13th Sep 2020

Current Standings

Driver Accrued Points Adjusted Total
1 Joseph Loake 206 206
2 William Orton 186 186
3 Albert Webster 138 138