Shanel Drewe has begun her Junior Saloon Car Championship career on a high after a positive opening weekend at Oulton Park. Drewe, who was competing in her first ever car racing event, showed great maturity to finish 19th & 17th respectively in the two races while considerably improving her lap times throughout. The 23 car field included a mixture of rookies and second year drivers with Shanel competing alongside two fellow female drivers, Katie Milner and Emily Glanvill. With a strong maiden weekend in the series, Drewe will look to build on this and make her way through the field as the season progresses.
After a short period of pre-season testing, Drewe took to the track on the week leading up the races to gain familiarity with Oulton Park before qualifying began on Saturday morning. With both races taking place on Saturday along with qualifying, Shanel knew the importance of staying out of trouble to maximise her weekend results. Qualifying took place with very cold track temperatures and with just six flying laps to set the grid for both races, it was vital to keep a good rhythm and improve every lap. Shanel did just that with by setting her three quickest lap times during the final three laps of the session and, despite qualifying as the slowest driver, Drewe was confident of making up positions during the races.
The first race of the weekend began shortly after with a number of drivers eager to make an impression on their first start in the Junior Saloon Car Championship. Shanel enjoyed a good opening to the race as she gained three positions on the first lap to move into 20th. By lap two Shanel had gained a further two positions and was fighting hard to maintain the positive start despite her relative lack of experience. After a poor first lap, a charging Harry Bishop made his way past Shanel on the following tour to drop her to 19th but she was focussed on putting in some quick lap times during the middle portion of the race. This was successful as Drewe held 19th place during the nine lap event, gaining nearly five seconds on her quickest lap time in qualifying.
Encouraged by her strong performance in race one, Shanel was confident of replicating this in race two where she again started from the final row on the grid. Drewe made another fantastic start as she jumped to 19th on the opening lap. During the first half of the race, Shanel showed her defensive qualities as she kept previously quicker cars behind her whilst not losing sight of the pack ahead. As the race wore on, Drewe improved her pace further and started to pull away from the cars behind and was ready to mount an attack on the drivers in front. She showed good patience and took her opportunity on the final lap as she passed two cars to finish in 17th, a superb achievement for a young driver in just her second circuit race. Shanel’s lap times were once impressive as she picked up a further one and a half seconds from her fastest time in race one as she benefited from extra track time and being able to learn from the drivers ahead of her.
With a superb start to her Junior Saloon Car Championship season, Shanel Drewe will be eager to get back out in the car ahead of the second round of the championship which takes place at Pembrey in just under five weeks’ time. The Welsh track will pose a different challenge to that of Oulton Park with a much shorter lap but features similar average speeds with a mixture of fast and slow corners. Shanel should be pleased with her opening weekend in the series but will be eager to improve throughout the year and become a regular top-10 contender.