Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship team Motorbase Performance’s new Driver Academy has celebrated a very successful start to 2022, with race wins and further podium glory achieved across no fewer than three categories – Ginetta Junior, MINI CHALLENGE and Porsche Carrera Cup GB.
All three championships began their respective campaigns at Donington Park a couple of weeks ago, where Motorbase also got its BTCC season underway, and in the Ginetta Junior Championship 15-year-old Harri Reynolds starred with a magnificent series of performances to lead the standings.
Driving for Assetto Motorsport, with whom Motorbase has partnered, Reynolds was quick throughout practice and qualified second for round one and on pole position for round two. Taking third place in the opening race, he emerged from a tremendous battle in race two with his maiden victory in cars and then led from lights-to-flag in round three to make it a superb double success.
In MINI CHALLENGE, three competitors from the Academy got their season underway with partner team JWB Motorsport. Jack Mitchell arrived in at the deep end after signing an eleventh hour deal, but he impressed from the outset by qualifying second fastest.
Only missing a round one podium by 0.4 seconds, Mitchell confirmed his prowess after hardly any practice running in the MINI JCW and stormed to third place in both rounds two and three to end the event third in the points – a big early warning shot for the 2022 title contenders.
Jamie Osborne put together a brilliant debut weekend, qualifying sixth quickest – only 0.4 seconds shy of pole – and then taking ninth overall and second in the Rookie Cup in race one. Finishing ninth again in round two, Osborne – son of Motorbase team owner Pete – charged to his maiden Rookie Cup victory with a superb drive.
Although race three delivered an unfortunate non-finish, Osborne concluded the weekend second in the Rookie Cup standings. Like his older brother Sam, who races with Motorbase in the BTCC, Jamie is running as No.77 in MINI CHALLENGE in memory of late racing driver Tom Walker.
In the third JWB car, Scottish driver Ru Clark produced a strong weekend and was delighted to qualify fifth fastest. Although a stall at the start of race one dropped him to 16th place, Clark battled back to be in the fight for seventh before settling for 10th after a tyre issue.
His weekend best came in round two, moving up from 10th on the grid to finish in the top eight after Safety Car interventions limited the opportunity for more progress. In round three he finished in 12th position and departed Donington third in the Graduate Cup standings.
Driving the NAPA Racing UK liveried JTR-run car in the Porsche Carrera Cup GB Championship, racing returnee Hugo Ellis qualified sixth fastest in the Pro-Am class and charged to a superb podium finish in his maiden outing, third in Pro-Am and 12th overall. In the second contest, Ellis was fourth in Pro-Am and 13th overall to end the weekend third in the Pro-Am standings.
One week earlier, across Easter weekend at Oulton Park International Circuit in Cheshire, Matthew Wilson started his season in the TCR UK Championship with JWB Motorsport. Putting together a consistent showing, only his third time at the wheel of the new Cupra Leon Competicion, Wilson achieved his aim of a top 10 finish in race two – having earlier finished 11th in round one.
In addition to the circuit racers who are part of the Motorbase Driver Academy, support is also being provided for two young rising stars in the karting world – 2021 Junior TKM British Karting Champion Alfie Garford and Daniel Ricciardo Series racer Bryn Calder
Garford made a strong start to his first season in the Junior X30 Championship, being named the ‘Wera Tools Driver of the Day’ during round one at Shenington Kart Club. Racing against some of the best karters in Europe, he was quick during practice – top four pace – but in qualifying he was stuck behind another driver on his hot laps and ended up a frustrating 27th overall from 48 competitors.
Racing to a 13th place finish in Heat One, from 18th on the grid, he battled for the top 10 in Heat Two until a debatable move from a rival on the last lap dropped him to 14th place. In the Final he stormed from 19th on the grid into the top 12 on the first lap alone and progressed into ninth. Into the latter stages, two rivals ahead collided and Garford had to take avoiding action – finishing 10th.
Calder got the opening round of the DRS100 championship underway this past weekend at Clay Pigeon Kart Circuit and the 14-year-old delivered strong pace. Lapping a superb second fastest in practice, a slow puncture in qualifying limited him to 11th in his session.
Rain arrived for raceday where Calder fought through to seventh in Heat One, before an incident dropped him to 10th place. Making great progress in the Pre-Final, he finished seventh and the combined points at that stage meant a 19th place start for the Grand Final. Producing pace a match for the front-runners, Calder raced impressively to end the encounter in 11th position.
Pete Osborne – Motorbase Performance Team Owner and Team Principal:
“What a start to the year for our Motorbase Driver Academy stars, each of them performed very impressively. Obviously, Harri absolutely starred in Juniors with two wins and Jack did a fantastic job in MINI. It was a very proud moment for me to see Jamie take his first Rookie class win in only the second MINI race, all three guys in MINI did a great job with Ru showing very strong pace as well.
“Hugo’s first outing in Porsche was impressive, taking a Pro-Am podium, and Matt showed there is much more to come from him after a consistently strong start to the TCR UK season. Alfie and Bryn are two very talented young kart racers and we’ve been delighted to extend some support to them as well. It all looks set to be a very strong first year for the Motorbase Driver Academy.”