On Wednesday the 23rd of September Silverstone put on two 25 minutes practice sessions for the Ginetta Junior drivers to take part in. When they arrived they found out that junior drivers over the age of 16 could partake in the general closed wheel sessions as long as an instructor was present. However, the speeds of the Ginetta G55s and Porsche Carerra Cup cars compared to a junior car speed meant they didn’t miss much by opting to not partake in the sessions. There was at least one incident between a G55 and a junior during the general closed wheel sessions.
Geri’s driver coach Chris jumped in with him for the first ten minutes, then Geri went out alone but kept in contact via the radio. By the second session the passenger seat was removed and the ballast put in to ensure Geri was running at the representative weight he would have on a race weekend. They found out that comparing lap times with other drivers was a waste of time as there was no one monitoring track limits so most of the other drivers were ignoring the track limits at Copse. The gravel trap at Copse had been replaced a few years ago, there is now enough tarmac that you can keep the car flat in 6th gear if you run wide enough and you manage to carry more speed than if you braked and stayed within the limits. The team were confident that with Geri staying in the track limits he could be competitive and be able to run in the 61s.
Geri and the team returned to take part in the two practice sessions on Friday afternoon. In the first session Geri straight away looked quick, although again track limits weren’t being monitored. After six laps of the session Geri was in fourth with a time of 61.2, just three of the HHC cars had gone quicker. The team were satisfied that Geri could run quickly, so they swapped him to new tyres. Geri was still able to set lap times of 61.6, the team were happy that both times were within the track limits too. At the end of the session Geri had only dropped to 8th on the live timing screens, just 0.33 off of the fastest
Session two came around, it didn’t go so well for Geri. Although he did manage a 61.5, he was the only driver out of 24 not to go faster than the previous session. At the end of the session he finished a disappointing 22nd. His time from session one was enough to bump him up to 14th fastest in the overall classification. Geri then told the team that the voltage was down, when they checked an alternator wire had frayed and once it was repaired the voltage was straight back to where it should be.
Geri out at Silverstone. (Credit: Tilley Photography.)
Saturday came around and it was time for the Ginetta Juniors free practice session. Two laps in and Geri was running 5th with a 61.6 on brand new tyres. This time the Clerk of the Course was monitoring track limits and was handing out warnings. Then Geri started to slip down the order. He found himself running with Jonathan Hadfield, who seemed more interested in screwing Geri’s laps up rather than focusing on his own. Any time Geri was about to set decent times in the first sector Jonathan would cut across him as they went into Brooklands and prevent Geri from setting his best times. Geri managed to improve to 61.5 but it was only good enough for 19th place. The team weren’t as concerned about this as they usually would be because they knew that Geri had good pace, he was 8th fastest going through both speed traps. As long as he could get a clear lap in qualifying they knew Geri could qualify well.
Later in the day it was time for qualifying, Geri was among the last cars to line up to go out and qualify. By being towards the back this could ruin Geri’s chances. As the cars went out two of the HHC cars almost stopped on track to join up with the other pair at the back. Geri spent the out lap running with them before they slowed to force him out of their tow line. The gap forwards was already large and he spent most of the session trying to catch someone to get a tow. His second lap was good enough for 9th running in open air, but improving on this was proving to be rather difficult for the Elite Motorsport driver. He went a little quicker, he managed a 61.3 on lap six but this was only going to be good enough for 12th. He matched the time identically to what Devlin Defrancesco did for 11th place. Late in the session Geri became entangled with Jonathan Hadfield again. On Geri’s best first sector Jonathan Hadfield cut across him into Brooklands to ruin Geri’s chances of setting a faster lap. When the flag came out Geri had qualified in 12th place, only .35 off of a front row slot.
A little later in the day it was time for race one, Geri went out and lined up in 12th on the grid ready for the race. He was alongside Devlin Defrancesco and behind Cameron Roberts. A good start by Geri meant he was on the inside line right on the bumper of Cameron Roberts. Roberts ran wider than Geri through Copse but Geri couldn’t take advantage of the mistake. After starting further before Billy Monger was able to take advantage of Roberts’ mistake by running up the inside of Geri and then cutting inside Roberts on the run down to Becketts. At the end of the lap Geri was still in 12th, one place lost to Monger, but one gained from Defrancesco. Lap two and Geri gained a few hundredths on Roberts, he was 0.17 closer to Caroline and Hornby who were battling for the lead of the race.
Geri out racing at Silverstone. (Credit: Tilley Photography)
Another lap in and Geri lost a hundredth to Roberts, but gained another 4 tenths on the leader. The gap to the leaders was only 2.7 seconds! Roberts was defending with pure determination as they went into Copse and Brooklands, Geri managed to get his nose past Roberts at Becketts on lap four, but Roberts carried more speed with the wide line. This meant Roberts could take his place back again. Monger spun at Brooklands, Geri lost speed after avoiding the spinning Monger. This allowed Alex Day to get through on the run out of Woodcote. Another place gained at the expense of one lost, still running in twelfth. Alex Day was running down the middle of the straight defending from Geri, Geri couldn’t carry the sufficient speed through Copse to stop Hadfield from putting his nose inside and then getting past in the braking zone or Becketts. Geri was now down to 13th after five laps but only 5 seconds covered the first 18 cars.
Lap six and Geri was putting a lot of pressure on Jonathan Hadfield, Hadfield ran wide out of Luffield and fell back to 17th. Geri was back into twelfth place and just over a tenth behind Day and still only 3.1 seconds behind the leader. On lap eight Middleton came through on the inside at Becketts, at Brooklands Matt Chapman, Esmee Hawkey and Kyle Hornby all went off. Hornby just came back on in front of Geri and again Geri had to take evasive action which allowed Defrancesco to pass. Geri had gained two places from Chapman and Hawkey but lost too to Hornby and Defrancesco, Geri was still in twelfth. Hadfield came back through coming out of Becketts after giving Geri a few bumps as they ran up the straight. Geri kept his foot in and held him off as they went in to Brooklands, but losing time on Defrancesco. Hadfield attempted to get alongside Geri down the Wellington Straight but Geri held him off. Hadfield attempted to have another run at Geri coming out of Copse on the final lap, this time he made the move stick into Becketts, but Geri got a much better exit out of Woodcote but unfortunately it was too late as Hadfield crossed the line an eighth of a second ahead of Geri. The finishing position of 13th could so easily have been higher had Geri had not lost places by having to take avoiding action when cars were spinning. If he hadn’t had to avoid the spinners and cars not been able to take the advantage of this, Geri could have easily finished in the top ten.
Sunday brought ‘race day’, the Ginetta Juniors had one more race to do. Geri finished race one in 13th but due to a grid penalty handed to Kyle Hornby meant Geri would start from 12th again. This time with Jonathan Hadfield alongside and Devlin Defrancesco in front. Geri got an okay start, Hadfield came round the outside through Copse, one place down but Geri was not prepared to give up. Defrancesco cut across the grass at Becketts spinning right in front of Hadfield, Geri lost a place to Kyle Hornby by avoiding the spinning car. Geri was up to 11th, the highest he’d been all weekend. Lap two saw Geri and Will Tregurtha closing up on the train ahead of them, as they came into Brooklands on lap three Geri was right behind Hornby and Middleton, who were side by side. As they approached the end of the lap, Hornby suddenly moved right causing Middleton to either back out or be put in the wall. Geri crossed the line just one hundredth ahead and now in 10th place, only two tenths behind Hornby. Middleton managed to pass Geri at the end of the straight, Tregurtha also managed to get past. Day was hesitant to pass Geri, then had a big exiting Copse. Geri was back into 12th just in time for the safety car to come out, Devlin Defrancesco needed to be retrieved from Becketts where he went off on lap one.
They had two laps behind the safety car, strangely Geri was further back from the leader, but he was running out in clean air to bring his engine temperature down whereas most other drivers were running nose to tail behind the safety car. At the restart Geri got an average run, by the end of lap 7 he was still 12th but just 3.3 seconds behind the leader. Coming up the Wellington Straight on lap 8 Tregurtha, Middleton and Day were three abreast directly ahead of Geri, with Grady behind. Tregurtha momentarily passed them both before almost running in to the back of Dan Zelos. Middleton got back through with Alex Day sitting between Tregurtha and Geri as they turned into Brooklands. Tregurtha spun coming out of Luffield and did a 360 degrees spin. Geri went to the left and Day to the right. Charlie Fagg managed to catch back up and was bumping the rear of Geri’s car. Alex Day ran wide through Copse allowing Geri through, which at the same time helped Geri to lose Fagg off his bumper. Now there was a 9 car train ahead with a couple of seconds gap and Geri in tenth was leading a 5 car train with Grady, Fagg Chapman, Stacey and Bailey making up the second pack. Grady was now bumping Geri as they entered Becketts and along the Wellington Straight but still ended lap nine in 10th place. On lap ten as they entered Becketts Fagg and Grady were alongside one another behind Geri. Geri received an almighty bump from Grady which sent him wide, allowing Grady and Chapman through. Charlie Fagg also managed to get past as they went round Becketts and Will Stacey also managed to get through. Geri had lost four places in one corner. Up ahead Jamie Caroline had taken a big hit and had smoke pouring from the car’s rear bodywork, he fell to the back of the leading pack before the finish line with another two laps of the race still remaining. Matt Chapman had broken free and was closing down his gap on the lead pack. Geri got past Stacey at Copse and on the final lap he was closing in on Grady and Fagg. As they turned into Becketts Jamie Caroline drove into the back of Cameron Roberts which resulted in them both going off track. Geri came out tight, trying his hardest to pass Grady as they went along the Wellington Straight, but unfortunately was unable to do so, meaning he lost half a car length over the whole straight. When the flag came out Geri crossed the line in 11th place, just 0.11 behind Grady. Another race Geri could’ve got a top ten finish but due to other driver’s actions meant it didn’t happen.
© Fay Tilley 28th September 2015.