Katie Milner has taken her maiden win in the Junior Saloon Car Championship after an impressive performance at Pembrey this weekend. In just her second season of circuit racing, Katie held off strong challenges from her fellow competitors to take her first victory in the series from pole position. Milner then went onto lead the majority of race two before being shuffled back to fifth late on, nevertheless, she claimed fastest lap and collected valuable championship points in her best weekend to date.
After a Friday test featuring mainly featuring wet or damp conditions, drivers were keen to make the most of the Saturday morning practice session ahead of qualifying. Katie posted 12 laps during the course of the session, showing good consistency to end the 15 minute practice in ninth position. Times were extremely close with Milner just over one second away from the fastest lap time as many racers got to grips with the challenging Pembrey circuit for the first time.
Qualifying took place shortly after with dry conditions once again enabling drivers to improve on their times from the morning. Katie took to the track and posted some good lap times early on, surpassing her best from practice on just her fourth lap. Milner continued to make gains with each and every lap, setting her fastest time on lap 10 to put her on provisional pole. Two further good laps followed as she tried to fend off challenges from closest competitors George Sutton and Matteo Zanetti. Neither driver was able to beat Katie’s lap as she took her first ever pole position in the Junior Saloon Car Championship by two tenths of a second. With the grid for race two based on the driver’s second best lap in qualifying, Milner’s consistency was rewarded as she would also line up first for race two on Sunday.
Starting from pole position was a new experience for Katie but she handled the pressure beautifully by leading the opening lap and pulling out a gap of almost a second over second placed Sutton. In the next few laps, Sutton began to close in on Milner and made the move for the lead on lap five. Nonetheless, Katie stayed close to her rival and held onto second place as the safety car was deployed for an incident further back in the field. When racing resumed, Milner made a brilliant restart and re-took the lead on lap nine. Controlling the pace superbly, Katie was able to defend from Sutton in the closing laps to take her first ever victory in the Junior Saloon Car Championship in just her second season of circuit racing. It was an extremely mature drive from Katie who was able to fight back from second place whilst utilising a safety car restart to her advantage.
Race two of the weekend was held on Sunday and was red flagged after the opening lap after a three car collision in the midfield required a large clean-up operation. When the race was restarted, Katie initially fell to third on the opening lap and held this position as the front three broke away from the field. On lap five she moved past Zanetti into second before taking the lead a lap later. With the field so competitive, Milner was unable to extend her lead and fell back to third on lap 10. In the closing stages Katie was unable to hold off Edward Moore and Charlie Kennedy as she finished the 14 lap contest in fifth place with minor damage sustained from her battle for the lead. However, Katie was able to set the fastest lap of the race on lap four and led the most laps out of anyone during the course of the weekend.
Katie’s strong performances at Pembrey will fill her with confidence heading into the rest of the season where she will believe she has a realistic chance of challenging for the championship. Milner became the first female driver to take pole position, fastest lap and win a race in the Junior Saloon Car Championship. With 14 races still remaining in the 2016 season, there are sure to be many twists and turns in store for the Junior Saloon Car Championship drivers. Snetterton will host the next round of the season in two weeks’ time, before the series embarks on back-to-back weekends of racing at Rockingham and Donington towards the end of May and into June.
Katie would like to thank Nimbus Motorsport, Torco, Merlin International Trading, Autocool Radiators and Myprotein for all their continued support.
You can keep up to date with Katie’s progress using the social media links below:
Website – www.katiemilner.com
Facebook – www.facebook.com/katiemilnerracing
Twitter – www.twitter.com/katiemilner_