Adam Smalley won the Ginetta Junior Championship title at Brands Hatch GP, where a podium, a victory and a 5th position was enough for him to seal the title in a tense end to a brilliant season.
Smalley headed into the Brands Hatch finale ahead of nearest rival Louis Foster on dropped scores going into the final three races of the year.
Fired up to take the initiative, the Total Rail Solution and Reflex Vans backed Elite Motorsport Driver, topped the opening practice session and was 2nd in the second session.
He carried this pace into qualifying, setting the 2nd fastest lap of the season to line-up P2 on the grid for the opening race, with his second-best time enough to give him pole position for Race 3 of the weekend.
The opening race of the weekend saw Smalley get away well from the outside of the front-row, taking the lead into Turn 1. The racing was short-lived after an incident in the pack prompted the Safety Car to be deployed.
A lengthy delay left only three minutes of race action left in the race as Smalley got the race underway again. Luke Browning managed to squeeze past Smalley to take the lead back.
Smalley followed him home close to the chequered flag, taking the fastest lap in the process, on his way to finishing a strong 2nd - extending his advantage over nearest rival Foster, who finished the race in 5th position.
Race 2 was postponed until Sunday after a lengthy stoppage in one of the Renault Clio Cup races on Saturday afternoon.
Starting from pole position, Smalley maintained his advantage out front over nearest rival James Hedley, who was closely followed by his teammate Browning and Ruben Del Sarthe.
Smalley managed to keep his rivals behind him in the opening stages, but was unable to break the powerful slipstream down the back straight – meaning he had to resist serious pressure from his rivals behind.
Late in the race, a collision between Hedley and Browning allowed Foster through into 2nd position, when the Safety Car was then deployed to recover a stranded car on circuit.
The race would finish under the Safety Car due to the extent of the delay, leaving Smalley to cross the line and take his 7th victory of the season and once again extend his lead to Foster in the championship standings.
Heading into the final race of the season, Smalley required to finish in 8th position to seal the championship title. Once again starting from pole position, Smalley got a great getaway while Foster bogged down off the line and fell to 4th position.
Smalley led the opening lap of the race, before Foster barged his way through to the front of the pack, taking Browning with him as Smalley didn’t fight them too hard, knowing what he needed to do in order to take the championship title.
The Safety Car was deployed on Lap 4, following an on-track incident which neutralised the field for a couple of laps before it was restarted.
A furious battle out-front between Foster and Browning saw the pack remain close, as a train of 8 cars began to develop for the lead of the race. Smalley dropped back to 5th position in the train, keeping himself in touch incase anything happened out front, but safely in championship winning position.
As the laps ticked down, the tension continued to grow as the pack bunched up in the final laps, Smalley briefly fell to 6th and was under pressure from behind, but he retook 5th and held on to the chequered flag, crossing the line to claim the 2018 Ginetta Junior Championship and cap off a fantastic season – which saw him take 7 victories and 10 further podium finishes on his way to an emotional title victory.
Adam Smalley “From the moment of entering the scholarship I never thought any of this would have been possible. It’s the best feeling in the world to have come out on top and won the championship. After the heartbreak at Silverstone I knew I needed to get in the right place and focus on getting the job done at the final round. I did everything I needed to do and it all paid off in the end. All of Elite Motorsport have done a fantastic job this year to give me the car I needed to win the championship. I would like to say a massive thank you to my sponsors, Total Rail Solutions, Dan Morley Snap-On, Reflex Vans, Madame Tussaud’s Blackpool and F1 alloys. Without them none of this would have been possible. "
Smalley adds this title to the Ginetta Winter Series Championship he won at the end of the 2017 season, following his Ginetta Junior Scholarship Award win at the start of the 2017 season, which brought him into the championship originally.
After claiming the 2018 Ginetta Junior Championship, the attention will soon turn to the 2019 season, where Smalley’s plans will be announced online and on his social media channels in due course.