Charlie Robertson consolidated his coveted top three placing in the Ginetta Junior Championship standings at Snetterton 300 Circuit on Sunday by securing his fifth podium of the year in round 11 and backing the result up with a very hard-fought fourth place in round 12.
Realistically, the ultra-talented 14-year-old could well have departed Norfolk with two more wins to add to his maiden success at Croft in North Yorkshire last time out. The opening race, in particular, was a close affair and Whyteleafe-based Charlie almost pipped points leader Seb Morris on the line.
In the second encounter at the new 2.97-mile track, the HHC Motorsport driver was again in a prime position to challenge for victory but contact at the Esses with fellow title rival George Gamble led to a momentary excursion for Charlie which dropped him just outside the podium placings.
With another strong haul of points this weekend though, including bonus points for pole position and fastest race lap in round 11, the Scottish-raised youngster is now just five behind Gamble in the championship with eight races remaining this season. Furthermore, Charlie’s fastest lap in the opening Snetterton encounter established a new lap record.
In qualifying on Saturday, 6th August, Charlie led the way impressively and took pole position for the first race with a best lap of 2m18.268 seconds (77.29mph) – his second best time of the session was good enough for the front row in race two as well.
Getting away well at the start of the opening encounter, Charlie held the inside line and defended nicely but into the infield section he was pushed back to second place and then third as Morris and Gamble moved ahead. At the hairpin on lap two, third place became second for Charlie as Gamble spun out of the lead and he set about applying as much pressure as he could to new leader Morris.
Running just a couple of 10ths of a second apart, the slightest mistake from either driver would prove critical. At the chicane on the final lap, Charlie got good drive out of the corner and up the Senna Straight but at the line he just missed out on sneaking the win by a mere 0.1 seconds.
“We made a rapid start off the line but Seb (Morris) just managed to get us into the hairpin”, said the Caterham School pupil, reflecting on race one, “I just followed him around for the first part of the race, I did make a few mistakes though and that lost me the race really. If I could have just been that bit closer I think I could have passed him on the last lap.
“I thought I should really go for it on the last lap anyway so I pushed hard to see if I could try and force a mistake or overtake him and we managed to get the fastest lap. We got as close as we possibly could but just didn’t quite get the win. It’s been a good weekend though, I’m happy.”
Beginning round 12 from second on the grid, the HHC driver made an even launch with Morris but a fast-starting Jake Giddings usurped both. Holding third place, and coming under increasing pressure from Gamble, Charlie maintained good pace and composure before his opportunity presented itself on lap four as Giddings and Morris battled.
Getting a good run on both cars, he took the lead on the inside at Agostini and was followed through by Gamble – the latter going on to take the lead on the final lap. At the Esses though, as Charlie tried his hardest to retake first place, unfortunate and unintended contact between the pair led to a delay and dropped Charlie to fourth in the final classification.
He will be back in action four weeks from now over the weekend 3rd/4th September for one of the biggest race meetings of his season – the annual visit of the Ginetta Junior Championship north of the border to Knockhill in Fife. The category front-runner’s family hails from Aberfoyle so the visit to the challenging 1.3-mile track will very much be a home event for the young teenage sensation.