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Hand grasps Junior Max glory

18 October 2010

After dominating the entire season Ash Hand only needed an eighth place finish in heat one to seal the title even if Jack Barlow had a perfect score but Hand made heavy work of his task, stopping on his out-lap in qualifying and having his brake cable ripped out on the first lap of the opening heat.

Barlow kept up his side of the bargain, winning heat one by half a second from polesitter Chad Ryan with Josh Parker third and Hand only 20th after spending the race switching his engine off into every corner to compensate for his lack of brakes.

Barlow dominated heat two, passing Ryan on lap one to seal a comfortable victory. Although his second win secured him the runner-up spot in the championship, a measured drive from Hand to fourth finally clinched the title for the CRG mounted driver.

Barlow and Ryan were a class apart in the 22-lap final, leading away from the start and building a safe gap back to third. Despite a fine effort from the maturing Ryan Barlow wasn't to be denied and took his third win of the year by a shade under two seconds.

From the middle of the grid Hand made steady progress to finish fourth, nearly ten seconds behind Barlow and three seconds behind first time FKS podium finisher Josh Gollin who overcame a turn one collision with Parker and Declan Jones that left the latter two in the tyres to take his best ever FKS result.

Barlow was absent on Sunday but Hand chose to race on in pursuit of a ninth win. The main points of interest was the battle for third overall between Parker and Jones and the fight for the fifth and final place on the Junior Ginetta scholarship shootout, which any one of five drivers could still claim.

Hand set the pace in qualifying by seven hundredths from Ryan, who started the day in the all-important fifth shootout place. Jones, Jessica Hawkins and Gollin completed the top five with Parker, trying to defend a 12-point lead over Jones, only 12th.

Heat one was business as usual for Hand, who won by four seconds from Jones with Ryan a stirring third after getting elbowed down to sixth on the opening lap and Parker a fighting seventh.

There was a similar story in heat two with Hand leading from the start to win by four seconds from Gollin and Charlie Turner in an excellent third. After getting 'binned' on the first lap for the second time Ryan could only recover to seventh behind Jones, Parker and Hawkins.

Chaos reined at the start of the final with Hand and Ryan the principle victims of a turn two melee although both were able to continue.

At the end of lap one it was Luke Whitworth who led although his exalted position lasted just three laps before Hawkins took control. However her days at the front were numbered when Jones caught and passed her on lap eight, the Dave Smith run driver extending his lead over the remaining laps to record his first FKS win.

But it wasn't enough to seal third in the standings as Parker also passed Hawkins to finish second, taking the place over Jones on a tiebreaker. The final podium place eventually went to a delighted Whitworth after Hawkins was penalised for driving out of bounds.



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