Jake Cook made a perfect start to his 2009 campaign at Brands Hatch Indy Circuit during the opening round of the Ginetta Junior Championship with Henderson Insurance; the 15-year-old taking a hard-fought victory ahead of fellow category returnee Aaron Williamson.
Serving up action aplenty, as is the way when the exciting Ginetta Junior runners visit Kent's world-famous 1.2-mile track, the story of the first race of the year was a titanic battle between pole-sitter Cook, rookie namesake Jake Hill and the rapid Alex Austin.
Qualifying on pole position with a time of 58.127 seconds, two tenths of a second clear of his closest rival, the TJ Motorsport racer was beaten away from the line at the beginning of round one by the fast-starting Hill who rocketed from second on the grid into a commanding early lead.
Austin maintained third in his Tockwith Motorsport machine with team-mate David Moore, younger brother of fellow Ginetta Junior competitor Sarah and also of reigning Ginetta G50 champion Nigel, making a superb start to his car racing debut.
Qualifying an excellent fourth on the grid, Moore slipped to fifth at the start behind Mitchell Hale but the latter had a slide at Graham Hill Bend part-way through lap one which enabled the youngest of the Moore siblings to nip back through.
Into lap two, Hill and Cook ran side-by-side through the fearsome Paddock Hill Bend with Cook soon moving back ahead into the lead. In the meantime, an unfortunate problem for Moore resulted in the youngster pulling off the circuit. He did rejoin moments later but ended up in 15th place – a disappointing end to an otherwise positive debut.
Williamson, who started the race in sixth position, was by now up into the top four and beginning to close on the trio of front-runners. As the race approached mid-distance, Cook held an advantage of just under a second from Austin in second place with Hill now back in third and Williamson edging ever nearer.
Cook's lead doubled by the start of lap seven with Hill moving back ahead of Austin but the outcome of the latter's race was determined by an incident involving a backmarker at Surtees on lap eight – Jake Giddings making contact with Austin as the front-runners lapped him. Knocking Austin down to sixth place, Giddings had also unwittingly delayed Hill moments earlier as he fought with the leader.
With five laps to go, Cook looked to have the race in the bag with a 2.5 second cushion over Hill with Williamson two seconds further back in the final podium placing. However, the leader hadn't bargained for a moment for Chris Swanwick at Clearways which resulted in the youngster ending his race in the gravel trap.