Poulton-le-Fylde’s Adam Smalley has served noticed of his undoubted motor racing potential by winning the Ginetta Junior Championship.
The 16-year-old earned two wins on Sunday at Brands Hatch to clinch the final meeting of the winter series.
He set a 57.062 lap time in the morning’s qualifying session to take the top grid slot, but had to settle for second in the opening race of the championship.
Kiern Jewiss took the lead and defended valiantly to keep a charging Smalley behind him in race one.
Race two saw Smalley’s teammate Greg Johnson lead the early stages, before the race once again turned into a duel between Jewiss and Smalley.
They traded places for the lead throughout the contest, which was played out in fading light and made for a dramatic closing to Saturday’s racing.
Smalley went around the outside at Graham Hill Bend to take the lead on the 10th lap, but Douglas Motorsport’s Jewiss didn’t sit second for long, and replicated Smalley’s move at Graham Hill to re-take the lead.
From there, Jewiss on the defence, held on until the flag came out.
After finishing second to hiis title rival on the Saturday, Smalley – in the #54 Elite Motorsport G40 – struck back in the third race on Sunday afternoon, taking his first win of the event in dramatic fashion.
Smalley started from pole position after a 1:05.045 in the tricky conditions trackside in the morning’s qualifying session, but his lead didn’t last long.
He was passed by Greg Johnson, inhis #7 Elite Motorsport G40, dropping to third.
The Safety Car was quickly called into action though, after Fin Green had an off at Clearways, neutralising the field.
At the restart Johnson dropped down the order and out of contention, creating a two-way duel for the win between Jewiss – who inherited the lead and Smalley.
The pair fought hard for the rest of the race, Jewiss unable to hold on this time, Smalley running nose-to-tail with the Maidstone-born racer, eventually taking the lead on the penultimate lap of the race at the famous Druids hairpin.
After finishing behind Jewiss in both Saturday races, the victory kept his title chances alive heading into the finale.
Then, a few hours later, Smalley took his second win in the #54 Elite Motorsport G40, in what turned out to be a disastrous final race of the weekend for Jewiss, who heading into Sunday’s races had a 10 point lead over his rival.
However, a costly spin on the opening lap of the race, saw him drop to 14th position, forcing him to fight through the field in an attempt to claim the title.
He managed to climb back up to sixth place, but it wasn’t enough, the Douglas Motorsport driver needing a second place finish to have any chance of taking the spoils.
Smalley, who was out in front, edged away from his rivals, building a steady lead to manage the race on his way to the championship.
In the end Smalley’s winning margin was just 0.826, but he was rarely challenged directly by the other runners – as he crossed the line to take his second win of the weekend and his first Championship since graduating to car racing.
Smalley said: “It was a bit of a hectic race three!
“I started on pole, it was wet and I got a horrendous start, but in the end I made the most of the opportunity at the end and came out on top.”To win that brought me back into the championship.
“The final race I managed to get my head down and just go for the win – luckily it went our way.
“I am very proud to take the 2017 Ginetta Junior Winter Series Championship
“It is a fantastic way to end the season, my first in cars and with the Ginetta Family.
“Huge thanks to all my partners, sponsors and everyone else who has helped me have a brilliant 2017 season!”
It was the second title for the Elite Motorsport team which Smalley joined for the Winter Series, going alongside the main Ginetta Junior Championship title won by Tom Gamble earlier in October.
Smalley’s racing carreer started in 2011, as Adam made his debut in the Comer Cadet class.
In his first season he became vice-Welsh Champion at the Glan-Y-Gors Kart Circuit.
The following season in 2012 – he took the MBKC Club Championships, the MBKC Autumn Championship, the MBKC Winter Championship and the Welsh Championship in Comer Cadet.
After moving up to Junior Karting in 2013, he took part in the Minimax class competing in the Super One British Karting Championship against 41 other competitors.
He managed to take two podiums at National level – with a second place finish at Glan-Y-Gors and a third place finish at PF International.
This led to him winning the Minimax Rookie of the Year Award.
He continued to improve the year after in the British Minimax Championship – this time placing fourh overall after consistent podium finishes throughout the year.
Smalley moved into Junior Rotax Max for 2015 and became the inaugural English Champion in the class at the Superprix.
After a bright start to the season, a mid season lack of reliability and mechanical issues plagued his season.
Last season was Smalley’s first season at European Championship level – making a dream start by winning on his debut in the Junior Rotax Winter Cup.
A strong season against a bumper grid of 36 other drivers saw him take a a couple of podiums, on his way to seventh overall in the Junior Rotax European Championship.