Teenage racer Luke Browning produced his best performance of the year to date as the Simpson Race Products Ginetta Junior Championship headed to Oulton Park for the fourth round of the season.
Luke, from nearby Kingsley, went into the weekend seeking to impress at his home circuit and showed he would be in the mix towards the sharp end of the grid with an impressive performance in free practice, where he lapped within seven-tenths of a second at the wheel of his Richardson Racing-run car.
A change in weather conditions provided a fresh challenge for qualifying on a damp circuit, with Luke posting the tenth quickest time to put himself in a solid position for the opening race of the weekend.
Improved conditions on Sunday gave Luke the chance to further showcase his pace and a fine opening lap saw him move up to an impressive sixth place.
Forced wide by on of his rivals on the second lap, Luke dropped down to P12 but a series of impressive laps allowed him to work his way back up to ninth place at the finish.
A time penalty for the driver who forced him wide during the race would then see Luke promoted into eighth place for his best overall finish so far, with Luke taking his place on the podium as the second best of the rookie drivers.
The pace shown in race one left Luke optimistic of a strong finish in race two, but having started ninth, he found himself dropping to the back of the grid on the opening lap when knocked into a spin at Knickerbrook.
Ending the opening lap more than six seconds behind the rest of the field, Luke knuckled down and was soon lapping up to two seconds quicker than the drivers he was chasing.
Closing on the midfield pack by lap five, Luke then wasted little time in making up places and would pick up no fewer than seven places before the chequered flag dropped to secure twelfth spot.
Luke ends the weekend just ten points away from the top ten in the championship standings.
“Qualifying was tricky with the conditions but from tenth on the grid I felt confident going into race one,” he said. “The pace was really strong at the start but then I got forced wide and dropped places which left me with work to do. However, I kept pushing hard and was pleased to finish up with a top eight finish and it was good to be on the rookie podium.
“That result gave me more confidence going into race two but unfortunately I was tipped into a spin when someone else turned in on at me at the chicane and it meant I lost loads of time and dropped to the back. From then, I just pushed really hard to close the gap to the guys ahead and I knew when I caught them that I had to get past as quickly as I could.
“To get back up to twelfth place having been as far as behind as I was after the first lap is really good and I think there are a lot of positives to take away from the weekend. If things had gone my way, I know that we could also have taken a lot more away from it, and I’ll look to build on these performances when we go to Croft for the next meeting.”