Things are tight at the race start - photo by Phil LaughtonJust over a year ago, Katie Milner had her circuit racing debut as she competed in the Junior Saloon car championship (JSCC) for the first time at Rockingham.

An unlucky accident in qualifying nearly ended her debut before it had barely started but, Merlin International got her car fixed in time for her to compete in the final race where she climbed to eleventh by the chequered flag. At the time we said imagine what she could have done if she hadn’t crashed. Well last weekend at Rockingham we found out!

Katie’s weekend was especially busy as she also had a school exam on Friday to do on top of the test session. This meant she missed the morning session and had to drive straight down after the exam finished. Missing the morning wasn’t too big of a probem with it being a circuit that Katie is familiar with already.

She had some extra help in testing as her driver coach, Adriano Medeiros was racing at Brands hatch later in the weekend and so he bought his team boss, Alex Ribeiro along to Katie’s test session. If you think you recognise the name, it’s because he was once in Formula one.

Things went very well and Katie felt she was up to speed by the end of the day despite only having half the running time of her rivals. Onto Saturday and they first had a practice session.

There was a bit of a tyre shortage this weekend and so Katie ran on very old tyres for this session finishing fifth. This was extremely positive as new tyres would bring big gains.

Into qualifying and as everyone predicted the new tyres did improve Katie’s lap times a lot. She narrowly missed out on pole by 0.086 seconds and took pole for race two. The races were both held on Sunday. Katie’s confidence was on a high and last year’s accident was forgotten!

The first race was early on Sunday, meaning lower track temperatures but Katie was now confident in her abilities around the track, whatever the conditions! She got a good start off the line as race one got underway and the field raced as one pack around the banking, all trying to leave as late as possible braking into the hairpin. Katie was third approaching the braking area but someone behind her left their braking a little too late and Katie was pushed onto the grass on the exit of the corner. She immediately got back on track but the loss of momentum saw her drop to eighth. Perhaps fired up still further by this incident, Katie now put on an incredible charge back up the pack overtaking six cars on the next few laps to cross the line back in second place. If the race had been a lap longer, a win may have been possible as Katie was less than a car length back from rival Charlie Kennedy as they took the flag.

Katie was flying - photo by Phil Laughton Winner in parc Ferme - Photo by Phil Laughton A hug from dad - photo by Phil Laughton

 

 

 

Race two was warmer and with Katie starting on pole things looked very positive. Katie got an even better start this time to comfortable lead into the hairpin. She then gradually pulled away, while being careful to manage her tyres in the warmer temperatures. Matteo Zanetti was her nearest rival but Katie was able to keep far enough ahead that she could concentrate on driving the perfect line without having to keep checking her mirrors for passing attempts. She crossed the line just under two seconds ahead and also took the fastest lap of the race.

It had been a great weekend and Katie was very pleased;

“Overall, it’s been an incredible weekend for me and by my calculations I am joint second in the championship with Edward Moore and George Sutton with Charlie Kennedy in first, but he is just three points ahead. Now a very quick turnaround to head down to Donnington on Thursday morning for the 5th round. Thanks as usual to all my team and my sponsors, Nimbus Motorsport, Autocool radiators, Merlin international, Myprotein and Richardson transport.”

So we got our answer to the question of what could Katie do at Rockingham without any setbacks; She’d take a second place and a win!

Donington Park, as Katie Mentioned is this coming weekend, on the 4th and 5th June. Katie will be looking for more strong results in her battle for the championship. By Marc Waller



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