Ginettas: Paddy McClughan adds to tally at Donington
20 April 2011
Patrick McClughan put in a determined performance and notched up more points at Donington Park last weekend, in rounds three and four of the 2011 Ginetta Junior Championship.
Paddy, who is taking in his second season in the Ginetta Junior Championship for 14-17 year-olds this year and who equalled his best result of 2010 at the season opener at Brands Hatch two weeks ago, was eleventh in practice in his Kelvin Jones Motorsport-run car.
He then proceeded to take an encouraging eighth place in qualifying, his best Q performance to date: “We didn't get the maximum out of the car but we still qualified eighth,” said Paddy, who attends Campbell College in Belfast. “We know there is so much more to come.
“But it was still extremely positive to see that we have definitely made improvements and I have made improvements in terms of my driving. It was very good and we were very happy.”
The 15-year-old then came through to take ninth in the opening race at the Leicestershire-based venue, persevering despite a number of skirmishes that left his Ginetta G40J in less than pristine condition.
“It was another very action packed race. There was lots of carnage and battles going on. But unfortunately I got taken out quite a lot by a lot of different cars,” Paddy recalled. “The car was in a very bad state by the end. It was damage limitation basically. But we still finished in P9 and got some points and I was happy to be able to bring the car home.”
The second race was a similar tale, but once again another resolute performance netted the Cimpina Ltd-backed youngster a top-ten and his second ninth place of the weekend.
“We got a really good start, but then at the end of the first lap there was an accident and the safety car came out. At this point I was running seventh or eighth,” he continued.
“Then the safety car went in and at the chicane, at the end of lap 5, someone spun and to avoid it I had to go over a massive kerb. I think I actually bent the steering arm on the car [as a result]. The car was undriveable after that. It was unfortunate as I was right in the thick of the action and could have ended up with another good result. But again, like the first race, it was a case of damage limitation and I just wanted to get the car home.”
Despite all that though, Paddy was still happy with his weekend and was particularly encouraged by his form in qualifying: “Overall it was very good. We made even more steps than we did at Brands and did well in qualifying. That we were able to get so easily into the top ten and we knew we could have got more from the car was very positive,” he added.
“But it was just unfortunate about the races because we did have some good pace to show. However unfortunately we couldn't maximise on that because of the damage. That is racing though. We will just have to go to the next round and hopefully have more luck.”
Paddy will head to Thruxton in two weeks time now with 38 points on the board and he is keen to try and get a top-five finish there, when once again the Ginetta Juniors will take their place on the support bill for the MSA British Touring Car Championship.
“I had my first race weekend at Thruxton last year,” Paddy recalled. “We started off quite well in both test sessions on the Friday. It was very positive considering I had so little experience. But unfortunately in free practice I made a tiny error. It was wet and I touched the kerb and the car speared off. Things like that happen though and I have no fears about going back - not at all in fact.
“I will go hard at it. A top-five finish would be nice, or possibly a podium. You never know we could go for a win too. But I have to be realistic. I think we can easily get a top-five, without a doubt.”
Team owner Kelvin Jones meanwhile believes Paddy has made definite progress in the two Ginetta Junior events so far this year.
“Paddy qualified well at Donington and but for a mistake, which I think cost him around four or five tenths, he probably could have been fifth or sixth on the grid,” Kelvin stated. “I comfortably feel that is where he is now. He has just got to start stringing laps and results together because, as I have said before, the speed is there.
“Looking to Thruxton, Paddy knows the track and while he had a big accident last year, I am still expecting him to qualify comfortably in the top ten and to be at least sixth or seventh on the grid. I think the more time I work with him, the better he seems to be getting. He is getting some very good results now compared to what he had last year and is moving up the grid.”