Motorsport: Leeds’s own Kellett in with a shot at Ginetta gold medal

James Kellett. PIC: Jakob Ebrey

James Kellett. PIC: Jakob Ebrey

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LEEDS’ rising motor sport star James Kellett says the 2014 Ginetta Juniors season has been a roaring success whether he walks away with gold, silver or bronze at Brands Hatch this weekend.

Kellett, 16, heads into the final weekend of the series sitting second in the standings, with the potential to walk away from Kent as champion.

Driving for the Boroughbridge-based HHC Motorsport, Kellett has it all to do, with Jack Mitchell holding a 70-point advantage into the final two races of the 2014 season. But Oakwood-based Kellett arrives after a season-best performance at the home of British motorsport, Silverstone, just two weeks ago.

The Leeds ace was dominant, taking two pole-positions, a second-place finish and winning the second race, only missing out on two wins after a rival knocked him off the track in the first race of the weekend.

That Silverstone showing has left him with title chances heading into the final weekend – and the teen ace knows that in itself is a major achievement.

“I don’t think it’s impossible to win. Anything can happen, especially in Ginetta Junior,” said Kellett.

“I just need to keep my head down and do my part, then see what happens to Jack; I’m really chuffed to have made it go down to the final round though, because his lead really was huge earlier in the year. Jack was really quick at the start of the season and that gave him a big advantage. Since the halfway point though I’ve been where I need to be, and a lot of that is down to me changing car. The original car I had wasn’t right and I was down four tenths of a second per lap against Jack. Now that’s sorted and my worries are gone, I’m out there to win races.”

Kellett’s fellow HHC team-mate Lando Norris has hit the headlines for winning the World Kart championship this year. But Kellett, also a highly-accomplished karter, has outperformed Norris this season in Ginetta Junior. However, the Yorkshire ace is aware he needs to be watchful of his team-mate this weekend as the 14-year-old sits third, 27 points behind him.

“Lando is very quick and has done a lot of testing, which helps your progress no end,” said Kellett.

“Since my main sponsor ran out of money earlier in the year, we’ve been running on a shoestring budget, so the luxury of testing hasn’t been available to us. I think I’ll be quick at Brands though.”

The final race of the series will be screened on ITV4 at 12.10pm tomorrow with the Brands opener untelevised at 4.55pm this evening. And following this weekend’s finalé, developments in Kellett’s life will continue away from the track. While his plans for 2015 are currently undecided as he seeks funding and support, the Leeds-born teenager is doing all he can to become a fully-rounded driver by studying for the Motor Sport Association’s Advanced Apprenticeship in Sporting Excellence programme at Loughborough College.

“I would definitely like to do a year or two of single seaters, for my understanding if nothing else,” said the Leeds ace. “I’d gain a lot in terms of race craft and experience; there’s little doubt it would improve me as a driver. The MSA course is great too, it’s only six days a month, but it’s a lot of work crammed into those days and I’m really enjoying it. As soon as the racing finishes, I know I need to really work hard to get some budget together for next year, because as it stands I won’t be racing in 2015.”

He could be heading into 2015 as a Ginetta Junior champion, but regardless of this weekend’s achievements Kellett can be proud.

The teenager pondered: “Obviously I want to win, every driver does, but it’s extremely hard in Juniors this year and I’ve had a few setbacks this year. Realistically, second in one of the hardest, most competitive years, beating the likes of Lando, would be a big achievement, it should be a good fight and I’m looking forward to getting on track.”

Leeds driver Ollie Wilkinson.

Rookie racer Wilkinson earns double podium finishes at Rockingham