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Round-up: Thruxton a tough test for local team racers

PUBLISHED: 17:16 21 May 2019 | UPDATED: 17:16 21 May 2019

Sam Osborne driving the EXCELR8-prepared MG6 at Thruxton to a best place of 21st in the latest round of the British Touring Car Championship Picture: Adam Pigott

Sam Osborne driving the EXCELR8-prepared MG6 at Thruxton to a best place of 21st in the latest round of the British Touring Car Championship Picture: Adam Pigott

Adam Pigott

The locally-based EXCELR8 Motorsport squad endured a tough time at the Thruxton round of the British Touring Car Championship - but had the satisfaction of getting both of its MG6s to the finish in all three races.

The Draper Tools-supported EXCELR8 MG6 driven by Rob Smith to a best result of 20th at Thruxton Picture: Jakob Ebrey PhotographyThe Draper Tools-supported EXCELR8 MG6 driven by Rob Smith to a best result of 20th at Thruxton Picture: Jakob Ebrey Photography

The Hampshire circuit is extremely fast and unforgiving with drivers Rob Smith and Sam Osborne aware that finishing races was more important than bringing home a wreck.

In the first practice session, Smith recorded the 18th fastest time, but that was as good as it got as he fell to 26th in session two, while Osborne was 30th and last, with the former qualifying in 26th place and Osborne two positions behind.

In the opening race, both kept out of trouble, with Smith finishing 25th and his team-mate 28th, while in race two the former posted the best result of the day with 20th, with Osborne 27th.

Osborne saved his best for the final race and posted a 21st-place finish, two positions better than his team-mate who had a mid-race clash with Ipswich's Carl Boardley.

James Hedley holding off the challenge of Zax O’Sullivan in the second Ginetta Junior race at Thruxton Picture: Jakob Ebrey PhotographyJames Hedley holding off the challenge of Zax O’Sullivan in the second Ginetta Junior race at Thruxton Picture: Jakob Ebrey Photography

"The main thing is that we are progressing," said Osborne. "We are lacking a bit of confidence in the high speed stuff and hopeful we can get a bit of testing in before the next round at Croft."

James Hedley still leads the Ginetta Junior Championship after the latest races at Thruxton, but his team, Elite Motorsport, based at Shipdham, have lost their lead in the teams' title race.

The weekend started off brilliantly for Hedley, with the youngster grabbing pole position for both races in the qualifying session, his first of the season.

However, Hedley completed the opening lap of race one in eighth place, having been swamped by the grid to the detriment of the series leader.

Elite Motorsport’s James Hedley celebrating his third Ginetta Junior victory of the season for the Shipdham based team in the second race at Thruxton Picture: Jakob Ebrey PhotographyElite Motorsport’s James Hedley celebrating his third Ginetta Junior victory of the season for the Shipdham based team in the second race at Thruxton Picture: Jakob Ebrey Photography

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Thereafter, Hedley fought hard to move forwards and finally claimed fourth place on the final lap of the race.

Race two was in stark contrast as Hedley left the grid behind, building an advantage until title rival Zax O'Sullivan closed in and from half distance made the Elite team leader work hard to maintain his grip on the lead, before claiming his third victory of the campaign.

Oliver Clarke endured an eventful opening race in the USA F4 Championship at Road Atlanta before bouncing back with his best-ever finish in race three.

Besthorpe’'s Tom Griffiths will be aiming for a podium place in the BMW Compact Cup races on his home track of Snetterton this weekend Picture: D MariesBesthorpe’'s Tom Griffiths will be aiming for a podium place in the BMW Compact Cup races on his home track of Snetterton this weekend Picture: D Maries

The Downham Market 16-year-old returned to the States for his second season and started race one from ninth place, but an engine fire knocked him out of the race.

It took an all-nighter from the pit crew to repair his car so Clarke could start race two from the pit lane, from which he scythed through the grid to finish in 12th place, which gave him pole for race three.

"Wheel spin off the line scuppered our progress but we bounced back and brought the car home in fifth," said Clarke on his third race and best result in the series.

"Sadly the engine fire put paid to our chances of making an impact. I'm confident that we will be firmly in the mix at the next round."

Downham Market schoolboy Oliver Clarke claimed a best ever result of fifthi n the opening round of the USA F4 Championship Picture: Gavin BakerDownham Market schoolboy Oliver Clarke claimed a best ever result of fifthi n the opening round of the USA F4 Championship Picture: Gavin Baker

Tom Griffiths will be hoping that racing on his home track of Snetterton will give the Besthorpe BMW Compact Cup racer an advantage allowing the relative newcomer to challenge for a podium place, while Ian Jones and Steven Dailly, who are tied for the series lead, continue their struggle for supremacy.

Doug Nye is fresh from a pair of victories in the Ford Fiesta Championship at Cadwell Park and aims to continue that form while Oliver Turner was a double winner in the Junior events.

The OSS series start their season off with a variety of different two-seater sports prototypes making for a colourful spectacle, with racing starting on Saturday at 2.10pm and continuing the following day from 9.30am.

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