Alisha Palmowski completes impressive Ginetta Junior Championship season
Alisha Palmowski's performances enabled the 16 year old racer to claim her first pole position of the season as well as fifth place in the highly competitive Ginetta Junior championship standings - in a season which saw her stand on the podium ten times.
Securing a top-5 finish in the Michelin Ginetta Junior Championship standings, Alisha Palmowski closed out an impressive season with another excellent performance at Donington Park.
Scoring her first pole position of the season in qualifying, the Elite Motorsport driver was a consistent frontrunner and achieved her sixth runner-up finish of the season in race two. Claiming fastest lap in race three further underlined her speed and this was a great way to end her second season in Britain’s most competitive junior championship.
Arriving at Donington Park after her career best weekend at Brands Hatch, Alisha knew that her maiden victory was within reach. With this being the second appearance for the Michelin Ginetta Junior Championship at the Leicestershire circuit this season, drivers and teams would aim to use this experience in order to progress forward.
After qualifying second and collecting a runner-up finish in May, Palmowski was looking to go one better in what were initially very different conditions to those experienced earlier in the year.
Due to extremely heavy rainfall, Friday’s pre-event test was cancelled and with wet conditions persisting into Saturday morning, drivers were given a short free practice session in order to get up to speed ahead of qualifying. Lapping among the frontrunners in the initial warm-up session, Alisha made a good start to the day and this carried forward into the first competitive session of the weekend.
The Elite Motorsport driver ended qualifying third fastest, less than a quarter of a second behind polesitter Hugo Schwarze. Her second fastest time was even more impressive as this secured her a maiden pole position of the season.
The opening race of the weekend took place on a damp and greasy track with Alisha’s initial start seeing her climb into the lead as the drivers exited the Old Hairpin. A red flag then brought racing to a halt much to Palmowski’s disappointment as her lead was taken away. The Elite Motorsport driver started the restarted race well and moved into second with Alisha and teammate Hugo Schwarze breaking away from the field.
Their progress was stalled however, when a safety car was deployed on lap three and this allowed the chasing pack to close in. On the restart, Alisha enjoyed a fantastic side-by-side battle with Henry Joslyn for the majority lap five, before slipping to seventh at the conclusion of the lap. From there, Palmowski looked to fight back and regained a podium position by the end of lap six.
A spirited effort to hold onto the position was thwarted by a move from Chase Fernandez, with Alisha taking the checkered flag in fifth. However, a post-race penalty for Fernandez saw Palmowski promoted to fourth to round off a typically chaotic opening race in the Michelin Ginetta Junior Championship.
Alisha’s fantastic qualifying performance saw her line up on pole position for the second race of the weekend. A dry line had formed, although it was damp off line which would make any overtaking manoeuvres challenging. Palmowski did a fantastic job to hold the lead in the opening stages, before being shuffled back to fifth at the conclusion of lap three. Her determination to fight back was once again apparent as the Elite Motorsport driver set the fastest lap of the race on lap four which enabled her to climb back into a podium position.
Palmowski’s charge continued on lap five as she overtook teammate Hugo Schwarze and began to gap the German driver. Both Alisha and race leader Reza Seewooruthun then established a sizeable lead and on lap eight, the Elite Motorsport driver attempted a move for the race lead into the Old Hairpin.
Despite pulling off a fantastic save on the exit of the corner, Alisha lost time and by the end of the lap had fallen behind Henry Joslyn. Showing her tenacity once more, Palmowski moved back ahead of her rival and claimed a runner-up result in the second race of the weekend.
Starting the final race of the season from second, Alisha continued her trend of fast starts as she took the lead after the opening corners. Once again, any attempt to breakaway from the field was halted as a lengthy safety car period saw her rivals close in. The restart proved challenging for Palmowski who dropped to fourth by the end of lap five, before quickly regaining a provisional podium position.
Her speed was not in doubt and she underlined this by setting the fastest lap of the race on lap seven, with a group of eight drivers now contending for the race victory. A plethora of results were still possible entering the final lap, however Alisha took to the grass on the run to McLeans which dropped her to eighth. It was excellent piece of car control by the Elite Motorsport driver who avoided spinning when re-joining the track which enabled her to take the checkered flag in eighth position.
Alisha showed superb speed throughout the season and was extremely unfortunate not to collect her maiden victory at Donington Park. Nevertheless, her performances enabled her to claim fifth place in the championship standings in a season which saw her stand on the podium ten times, only behind champion Freddie Slater and Hugo Schwarze.
Palmowski’s consistency has been especially noteworthy and will serve her well as she looks ahead to new opportunities in the 2024 season.