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FIESTA JUNIOR RETROSPECTIVE - 2012 SEASON: PART 2

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Freddie Lee and Ben Wilcox were among the drivers to contest the first Fiesta Junior season in 2012 - Photo: Kevin Shortis

Last time, we covered the first part of our Fiesta Junior Retrospective of the 2012 season. Here, we conclude that look back at the rest of the field, start from 5th place onwards!

5TH - BEN WILCOX - 154pts
Ben’s first season of car racing began in less than ideal fashion as his first-ever raced ended prematurely in the gravel just before the Wellington Straight, but redeemed himself in the second race with his first points on the board by finishing in 7th place. A steady drive in the wet at Snetterton allowed him to score a 5th place in Race 1, and keeping out of trouble in the second race later that day allowed him to finish one place better in 4th, despite the tricky wet conditions. 

Donington Park would start something of a friendly season-long rivalry with Aiden Moffat, as the two first came into combat in Race 1 briefly before Wilcox lost out to Jack Mitchell early on and ended up quietly delivering another 4th place. The second race saw him chasing after JJ Ross in the early laps, but battle lines were eventually drawn between himself and Moffat as the scrap began when a challenge from the young Scot forced Ben to cut across the gravel at the Esses heading onto the GP loop. This battle was put on hold when Wilcox managed to slip past Ross at the Old Hairpin, but running wide at Redgate to lose the place back again and then sliding sideways back at the Old Hairpin allowed Moffat to get back in front. A side-by-side battle between the pair was rejoined as they bravely diced through the Craner Curves, and after a hairy moment heading onto the GP loop, he would be forced to settle for another top 5 finish with 5th place. However, the seeds had been sown for a season-long duel.

Cadwell Park’s wet conditions didn’t quite suit Ben initially as he could only muster a 6th place in the first encounter, but the second race once more saw Wilcox and Moffat go toe to toe for position with both Freddie Lee and Bobby Thompson. The pair ran nose-to-tail for a number of laps before and even swapped places midway through before the collision we mentioned in Part 1 left Moffat reversing out of the tyres and Wilcox just holding off Lee in a drag race to the flag to score his first podium with 2nd place, his best result to date. Rockingham brought more skirmishes as Wilcox picked off Lee before again rubbing panels with on-track best friend Moffat on his way to another podium finish with 3rd, and replicated that performance in Race 2 to round off one of his strongest weekends to date.

 

With just three meetings left to go, the two drivers were poised to do battle for 4th in the points standings. Wilcox chased Moffat for the entirety of Race 1 at the first visit to Brands Hatch until an attempt to pass around the outside at Paddock on the final lap left him running wide across the gravel as a result, leaving him 4th at the flag. A strong start to the second race kept him in the lead group and he was briefly able to move up to 3rd past Ross before losing the place back, but Ben then benefitted from Moffat’s steering damage to add a fourth podium finish of the season with another 3rd place. Wilcox had been running in 4th place at Snetterton when he made a pass on Moffat outside of Riches in Race 1, but Moffat’s eagerness to repass left Ben rejoining with a damaged car but still able to take a 3rd place finish and a mistake in the second race lost him what could have been 2nd but he was still able to take to the rostrum.

A tough season finale at Brands Hatch left him suffering contact from both Mitchell and Alex Reed in the first race in what turned out to be a lonely 5th position, while his championship came to an end in the second race after recovering from a trip into the gravel on the opening lap and then getting tagged exiting Druids and spearing into the tyre wall. Nonetheless, 5th in the final points standings was a superb achievement for his first season of racing. After another year competing in 2013, Ben seemingly chose to hang up his driving gloves but was still present in the motorsport paddocks, trading the steering wheel for the wrench as he went on to work as a mechanic for teams such as Carlin and his current outfit, HHC Motorsport.

6TH - FREDDIE LEE - 87pts
The son of the incredibly successful and legendary Barry Lee, a champion in many disciplines of British motorsport, Freddie graduated from karting and Ministox to the circuits for the first time in 2012. He only drove his Daniels Motorsport prepared Fiesta Junior race car a week before the opening round at Silverstone, but that didn’t seem to faze him as he became the first-ever race winner in Fiesta Junior history on a damp track. The drier conditions seemed to work against him in the second race as he dropped from the lead to 4th place in a handful of corners but managed to fight back and clinch a 3rd place to leave his first meeting towards the top of the points table.

A front-row start at Snetterton was converted into an excellent 2nd place in Race 1 despite a late challenge from Jack Mitchell, who then proceeded to pass him early in the second race to leave him in a distant 3rd place, but maintaining his 100% podium finishing record from the opening two meetings. Freddie would miss a meeting before returning in more wet conditions at Cadwell Park, putting a calm and careful drive to take 5th place in very adverse weather, and a strong start to Race 2 allowed him to grab 4th place in the opening corner and become embroiled in the scrap for 2nd place with Wilcox and Moffat. In the end, he settled for 3rd place, although he came incredibly close to snatching 2nd at the flag after Wilcox’s contact with Moffat in the last corners. However, Freddie’s car was found to have a technical infringement after the race and the points from his result were stripped from him. Lee’s final appearance of 2012 came at Rockingham where despite a front row start, he struggled to get away quickly and spent the first race once again battling with Moffat and Wilcox, losing out to both of them and taking the chequered flag in 5th position, followed by a 7th place finish in his final race, which was disappointing by his standards.

After a mid-season switch to Ginetta Juniors, Freddie moved on to compete in the Pickup Truck Racing Series at the end of 2013 when he turned 16, committing to his first full season in 2014 in the Pro2 class, where he won the title and became the youngest ever driver in the championship’s history to do so. Lee then moved up to the Pro1 class for two seasons, claiming the crown in 2016, before stepping up to the MINI Challenge for half a season in 2017 where he managed a best result of 6th place.

7TH - ALFONSO SKRICZKA - 68pts
Alfonso’s experience in karting in the years leading up to his Fiesta Junior debut came mainly in the Cadet classes, contesting championship in Super 1 and even finishing a season of the BRDC Stars of Tomorrow Cadet series in 6th place in the points. When he began his circuit racing career at the opening round at Silverstone, he probably didn’t anticipate ending up in the gravel after just two corners, along with Ben Wilcox who went off in sympathy! Despite this, he rebounded for the second race and came away with a respectable 6th place to open his points account. A crash during practice at Snetterton forced him onto the sidelines for the rest of the weekend and there were initial doubts that he’d be able to get back on track for the remainder of the season, but thankfully the damaged sustained was repairable and Alfonso was unharmed.

Skriczka wouldn’t reappear until the first visit to Brands Hatch later in the year, and enjoyed some battles with Jack Mitchell on his way to a pair of 5th place finishes, before slowly beginning to improve over the last two race weekends. Snetterton would see much better fortunes than his previous visit as he picked up another 5th place in the first race and improved to go one better later in the day with 4th place in Race 2, before he appeared at the final two races at Brands Hatch and finished the season with a 4th place and then his one and only Fiesta Junior podium in the final race of the inaugural campaign.

Budget restraints forced Alfonso to put racing on the backburner for a couple of years while he studied at Brooklands College to become a mechanic and eventually work at McLaren to help build their road cars. He rejoined the Fiesta grid in the senior level Fiesta Championship in 2016 in a Fiesta ST150 rebuilt by himself and his dad and ended up scoring some impressive results on his way to a very strong 3rd place in the Class C standings.

8TH - JAMES MANNING - 58pts
James had an incredible number of races under his belt when he stepped up to the Fiesta Junior Championship for three meetings, as across at least six years of competition he made more than 1000 starts. When he eventually did debut in 2012, his first meeting was at the International V8 Superstars meeting at Donington Park, where he managed to qualify a superb 6th. Keeping out of trouble in both encounters netted him a pair of 6th place finishes to get his first points on the board.

His lack of circuit racing experience came back to bite him while qualifying for Cadwell Park, but the damage was quickly fixed and he was able to get on track for the two wet races, where he scored 7th and 6th place respectively. His last two races came at the next rounds at Rockingham where he once again kept his nose clean and finished both times, taking 6th and 7th to finish his one and only season of competition.

After his racing career finished in order to prioritise his education, James went on to train as a mechanic at Stratton Motorsport and worked on their cars as the team competed in both the British GT Championship and AMOC race, as well as also working with them at events such as the Creventic 24 Hour race in Barcelona, Britcar and GT Cup. James now runs his own team, Mannpower Motorsport, which regularly races in the C1 Racing Club and the MINI Challenge. In 2019, James’ efforts allowed father Paul Manning to not only finish 2nd in the Cooper Class, but also take home the end of season Directors Cup and the Sports Person Driver Award.

9TH - BOBBY THOMPSON - 45pts
From 2006 to 2012, Bobby was a regular on the karting scene like most Fiesta Junior racers, starting at the Bayford Kart Club, and progressing to Super 1, Formula Kart Stars and the BRDC Stars of Tomorrow. While he contested the 2012 Formula Kart Stars season in the Junior Max class, Bobby made his first of two entries to the Fiesta Junior Championship when he joined the regular competitors at the second rounds at Snetterton. 

Despite the damp conditions, Thompson adapted to circuit racing fairly well as his first weekend saw net a 6th place in Race 1 followed by his first top 5 finish with 5th in the second race later that day. The weather being worse at Cadwell Park next time out, Bobby appeared to take the rain on the chin and coped pretty well to pick up his best results with two 4th places, but in the end that would turn out to be his last race on a Fiesta Junior grid. While he would indeed qualify at the following meeting at Rockingham, mechanical issues prevented him from taking part in either race.

It was from here that Bobby made progress from the junior racing ranks to the senior level. Using the same Fiesta ST150, Thompson moved into the Fiesta Championship in Class C in the same season and drove in two races before completing a full season in 2013, picking up a podium finish along the way and then just running a further two races in 2014. That same year, Bobby got his first taste of single-seater racing and the ToCA package as he ran six races with Meridian Motorsport in the Dunlop MSA Formula Ford Championship (now known as British F4) and never finished outside of the top 10 as he finished every single one. From here, he decided to head back to tin-tops by joining the Volkswagen Racing Cup, spend three seasons between Power Maxed Racing and Team HARD, the latter helping him deliver a championship win in 2017 with six race wins, ten podiums, three pole positions and nine fastest laps. His biggest break came in 2018 when he made the breakthrough to the BTCC, staying with Team HARD to drive one of their VW Passat CCs. In 2020, he has made the switch to Trade Price Cars Racing and is set to drive one of their Audi S3s for the duration of the season alongside James Gornall.

10TH - LOUIS MILLAR - 23pts
Louis was only on the grid for two race weekends at the start of the season, and he was another driver that was caught out by the slightly damp conditions at the Silverstone opener. Running as high as 2nd after the early safety car, Millar lost traction on the approach to Maggotts and Becketts and ended up sliding off the road and into the gravel. He survived a hairy moment heading onto the Wellington straight on the opening lap of Race 2 and was able to drive cleanly to a 5th place finish to score his first points. An improvement in form in slightly worse conditions came at Snetterton when he capitalised on the errors of others around him to finish 4th in the first race, but contact while attempting to pass JJ Ross led to a second hit from Moffat that put him out on the spot.

From here it appears that Louis’ racing career came to something of an unfortunate halt (although we’re happy to be proven otherwise!) and nowadays spins records rather than wheels as a DJ under the name Louis M!

ALEX REED
Alex joined the Fiesta Junior grid late in the year with a view to competing in the following season, and tested the waters in the final two weekends of the season at Snetterton and Brands Hatch, although he would be invisible to scoring points due to the regulation requiring drivers to compete in any of the first six meetings. Due to a tech infringement after qualifying, he would be one of two drivers that would start at the back of the field for Race 1 at Snetterton but a safety car helped him to close up to the pack and finished in 6th. A rapid start helped him get ahead of title contender Jack Mitchell and maintained a steady pace throughout to take another 6th place finish. 

With a slightly larger field, 9th place was all he could manage in qualifying at Brands Hatch but was unable to make the finish in Race 1, and despite getting to the end of Race 2 he was involved in more strife when he made contact with Ben Wilcox, forcing him into the tyres as a result; after a red flag restart, he would finish the final race of the season in 5th place. He would appear again on the grid in 2013, and then progressed into senior-level racing in the Lotus Cup UK as well as a one-off appearance in the Michelin Clio Cup. Beyond this came two seasons racing in GT4 in the British GT Championship, scoring two wins across two seasons and a further four podiums and coming 3rd in class in the standings in 2017.

 

RORY COLLINGBOURNE
Like Alex Reed, Rory was another driver that dipped his toe into Fiesta Juniors for the last two race meetings of the season. He too had to start at the back of the grid due to a tech infringement in qualifying, and issues in the race forced him out in Race 1 at Snetterton but did manage to make it to the flag in the second race by taking 7th place, although he too would be ineligible to score points. Rory then went to the Formula Ford Festival meeting for the final two races where he collected 6th place in the first race and then managed to rise as high as 4th before the red flag in the final race and then went on to maintain the place.

Rory would join the grid again in 2013 and then move to the senior Fiesta Championship a year later, before progressing into the Renault Clio Cup UK for 2015 and finishing 6th in points. The second season in 2016 could only net him 12th at the end of the year, but his career then went into overdrive when he elected to compete in the Lamborghini Super Trofeo Asia series and the subsequent World Final at Imola in 2017. A selection of races in Porsche Carrera Cup GB in 2018 included two wins, six podiums, a pole and a fastest lap to put him 6th in the Pro-Am standings, and made a single appearance on track in 2019 at Magny-Cours in France in a Ligier JSP3 LMP3 prototype racer in the Ultimate Cup Series.

NATASHA HUSSAIN
Natasha made history as the first-ever female competitor in Fiesta Junior history, making her debut at the final rounds at Brands Hatch at the Formula Ford Festival in October 2012. Driving with WDE Motorsport, she finished both races with a respectable 8th in Race 1 and then 7th in the second race to round off a fine first attempt all round. Natasha would also compete in the 2013 FJC season before moving into the senior series to race across the next two years. Her younger brother Sikander would also become a Fiesta Junior racer too.

JAMES BOURNE
James was only ever recorded as making one single appearance in the Fiesta Junior Championship at the 2012 finale. Another driver invisible to scoring points, his two races were trouble-free and he finished 7th and 6th respectively. Nothing much is really known of James’ racing career from 2013 onwards, but if anyone has any information, then feel free to let us know!

That’s our look at the 2012 season wrapped up, and we’ll be taking a look at the 2013 season in due course!

Scott Woodwiss

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