PalmerSport Ginetta Scholarship winner James Nicholas wins on debut

PalmerSport Ginetta Scholarship winner James Nicholas wins on debut

30 March 2024

James Nicholas, who three weeks ago took part in the PalmerSport Ginetta Scholarship shootout at Bedford Autodrome, has won his first ever car race this afternoon (Saturday) in the PalmerSport W2R G56 GTA in the Ginetta GT Academy.

James came out on top in a unique evaluation process run by PalmerSport in association with Ginetta Cars in early March, to win himself a fully financed drive in this season’s GT Academy. He was selected from a crop of more than 50 drivers from assessment days at Bedford and Donington Park before heading to Oulton Park this weekend for the first round, and his first ever race, which couldn’t have gone better.

James qualified in an excellent second place ahead of his debut race, only 0.402s behind pole position. Then in his first ever rolling start, he went round the outside in Turn One, Old Hall Corner, and took the lead.

From then on, he built up a small lead but was hunted down by Elite Motorsport's Harry Gamble. Gamble chipped away at the gap and eventually was able to line up a move on James at the exit of Old Hall Corner. But, James stuck with him and sent it into Cascades, retaking the lead. Both drivers, both rookies, were racing like old pros. 

Following Gamble's mid-race challenge, James was able to rebuild a buffer for himself until the end of the race where he took the chequered flag in first position. A dream result.

James said: “I’ve no idea what happened, but somehow I’ve got a trophy in my hand and managed to blag it through the race.

“Yeah [I went for it]. At the end of the day, as much as I played it down, I’m very competitive and once I was in the car, it just took over. Those years of – not racing – just everything, took a hold of me and I thought ‘right, round the outside, one chance of this.’ It was like it was autopilot, I don’t know what happened, I really do not know.”

PalmerSport Chief Instructor, and one of the scholarship’s judges, Rob Jenkinson, was at Oulton Park for his debut. He said: “It was remarkable that James managed to qualify on the front row of the grid. Then to go on to convert that into a race win exceeded anybody’s expectations.

“We’re immensely proud of what he achieved. Can he replicate that in races two and three? We’ll have to wait and see but an absolute dream start for such a lovely guy that’s putting everything into it, long may it continue.”

As opening race winner, and therefore championship leader, James will have a few more eyes on him for the rest of the season, particularly the second and third races of the weekend on Monday 1 April.

“I’ve probably put a marker on my back, so I can’t slip past anymore. I’ll just try again, take each race as it comes,” he said.

“This is one of the best days ever, 100%, it doesn’t get much better than this, even winning another race, it wouldn’t be the same as winning on debut. It’s what dreams are made of.”

The Ginetta GT Academy, featuring James Nicholas in the PalmerSport Ginetta, will race twice more this weekend, if you are interested in an opportunity like James’s, PalmerSport is already planning to run another competition to win a full season in next year’s Ginetta GT Academy, once again in partnership with Ginetta Cars. Details will be announced in due course. For any enquiries, in the meantime, please email [email protected].