TEENAGE sensation Henry Gilbert has crowned his first full adult racing season by winning The Mini Challenge club class – and overall championship.
The 16-year-old student went into the final round at Donington Park with a healthy 26-point advantage after amassing 12 wins and eight fastest laps.
All the Gaulby youngster needed was third or fourth place finishes and no retirements to secure the championship, so reliability was the order of the day.
He qualified on pole and after a frantic battle in the first race, finished a safe third with another fastest lap in the process.
In the first race the next day, from third on the grid, Gilbert made a storming start and by the end of lap one was in front – and stayed there until the chequered flag.
Although he did not have to contest races three and four as his points were already enough to secure the overall honours, Gilbert did so and won the third by a huge margin.
The final race was a reverse grid, with Gilbert at the back, and he used it to try to help good friend and team-mate Mike Philips get his first trophy of the season, unsuccessfully in the event.
Gilbert gained another fastest lap, making it ten in all for the year – and 14 wins.
He said afterwards: “I would like to thank Exelr8 motorsport for providing my car, Ashley my mechanic and Ray Grimes my instructor. It was a whole team effort and thanks to them I am now Mini Challenge champion 2012.
“All rounds are shown on Motors TV or can be seen on the Mini Challenge website.”
Gilbert now has a new and exciting challenge for 2013.
BTCC driver and Team Hard owner Tony Gilham has signed him up as his number one works driver, in a newly-built Golf GTI in the prestigious VW CUP series with rounds in both the UK and Europe.
Gilbert added: “I feel really good in the car, having tested it already. It’s a newly-built car, built especially for me.
“It is already really competitive and with some more winter testing I am sure we will again be competing for top places.
“The VW cup is a brilliant series with around 30 on the grid. It is a tough series but I feel more than ready for this next step up in my career.”
Follow Gilbert’s progress on Facebook or on Twitter: henrygilbert81...... Roll on 2013!
Any companies interested in providing additional sponsorship for Gilbert can contact Tony Gilham at Team Hard.