Oli Basey-Fisher was crowned 2013 Protyre Motorsport Ginetta GT5 Challenge Champion after a weekend of high drama, at Donington Park.
The Great Finborough race ace, in only his second season of car racing at any level, went into the final event of the campaign at the East Midlands track third in the driver standings but produced two superb podium finishes in rounds 19 and 20 to snatch the title by nine points.
“I don’t think this will sink in for six months,” he said.
“After starting out in Ginetta Juniors less than two years ago, I certainly didn’t think I’d be here as Ginetta Challenge champion.
“It really is something I didn’t think was possible at the beginning of the year – it’s just fantastic.”
The 18-year-old went into the championship finale with just three points separating himself and chief title rivals Brad Bailey, the series leader going into the weekend, and Academy Motorsport team-mate Will Burns, and was handed a timely boost during the all-important qualifying session on Saturday, where he seized pole position for the first race.
And that proved decisive as although Basey-Fisher couldn’t cement his pole with victory, he did take second spot, fending off Burns, to crucially move to the top of the driver standings with a four-point advantage.
Although three races were scheduled for the day, only two encounters could be contested after a frightening accident on the opening lap of race two for one of the G20 drivers.
That didn’t see the end of the drama, as starting the final race from eighth on the grid, notably behind Burns, Basey-Fisher was handed another boost when title rival Bailey spun out, ending his champion hopes.
Thankfully, he managed to avoid his stranded Ginetta team mate to emerge fourth, ahead of Burns, before quickly moving into third following two laps behind the safety car.
The Suffolk speedster then avoided further catastrophe as he ran off the track due to an oil spill before rejoining in third as the race was halted.
Lining up fourth on the revised grid, Basey-Fisher was nudged back to fifth before rallying to third, a position he would hold on to, to secure a pressure-packed title.
“It was a hell of a race after the re-start,” reflected the newly-crowned champion.
“I can’t thank everyone enough who has supported me this year, the guys at Academy Motorsport have given me an incredible car all season and I wouldn’t be here without the support of my family, my sponsors and, of course, Ginetta.
“Without winning the Ginetta Junior Scholarship a couple of years ago, I wouldn’t be where I am now.”
As well as claiming the title, Basey-Fisher also scooped the fantastic prize of a Ginetta G55 for use in 2014.
“It’s another massive boost to my career from Ginetta,” he added.
“To receive that prize is amazing, I’m really looking forward to next year where we’ll hopefully be on the grid in either Ginetta GT Supercup or maybe GT4 in British GT.”