Liverpudlian youngster Declan Jones put in an 'absolutely brilliant' performance in the latest rounds of the 2011 Ginetta Junior Championship to take a top five finish, the Kelvin Jones Motorsport driver putting in some sensational overtaking manoeuvres on his way to a season-best finish.
Declan, who was recently accepted into the MSA Academy programme, had to once again learn a new circuit, but he overcame this well and was performing well in qualifying before a sizeable off at turn one, ending up fourteenth on the grid.
Chicago-Soft-backed Jones explained: “It was difficult coming here. It is not an easy track to learn. You have got to have real guts in certain parts of it otherwise you are off the pace. I was getting quicker and quicker in qualifying and was probably running around P6. I was quickest through sector 1 at one point and was really fast.
“I was trying and trying to run a little bit more kerb at the first corner and then I guess I took a bit too much! It just pitched me sideways and I then slid all the way down the hill and hit the wall side on.”
The off resulted in Jones suffering a pulled muscle in his neck, but put the pain behind him to fight back in the first race, finishing in eleventh place.
Declan said: “It was hard in that race. The car wasn't quite right because we just didn't have enough time to get everything just so. But we were determined to collect points and it was nice to make up a few places.”
With the car back to full health the next day, Declan was able to go on the offensive in race two, producing some stunning moves to get into tenth before a short safety car period, before pushing on to take a superb fifth.
16 year old Declan added: “I just kept my head today and towards the end when they all started battling that was when I got them. I just put the car in where I thought was the right position to put it and it paid off.
“I was actually three abreast three times and every single time I came out on top. It was exciting, especially the time I was in the middle of Max [Coates] and Oliver [Chadwick]. It was a real hold your breath moment as I went the deepest into the corner. I also went around the outside of Myles [Collins] on the final lap.
“Overall it really was a good day and I have to thank the team and Bradley [Ellis] for his help. Turning up on the Wednesday I hadn't even seen the track and to come away with a fifth place is really good. It has been hard at times this weekend and I have obviously still got a sore neck from my off in qualifying. But it ended really well and we are all leaving on a high. That is a good thing.”
In the end Declan took 30 points from the weekend and as a result moves up from fifteenth and thirteenth in the championship standings ahead of the next meeting at Rockingham in two weeks time. Before that though, Declan will travel to Le Mans next weekend, where he will test an LMP2 car.
Declan noted: “That should be good fun. We are also hoping to do a track day at Rockingham a few days before the next round. That will help for the next Ginetta event, but again I know I am going there and going up against people that will have done days and days of testing and who have raced there last year
“I really feel I am starting to get use to the car now, however. I know how it will react in different situations. It is just about seat time really. Every time I go out I get quicker and quicker and feel more and more confident.”
Declan's dad and boss of Kelvin Jones Motorsport, Kelvin Jones was delighted to see son come back and take fifth, though remains concerned about the standard of driving in the Ginetta Juniors and has confirmed that Declan will test a Formula Ford car in November, as they ponder various options for 2012.
Kelvin said: “We are really happy to get this result, especially as we have never been here before. It was a bit of a crash-fest at times again and that is not good. Aside from the danger element there is also the cost issue. For those of us footing the bills all these smashes make things really difficult. That is one reason we are looking at Formula Ford.
“We managed to get through the races though today and despite the fact the bigger teams had been testing all week, it was very satisfying to come here and beat some of them.
“Declan's overtaking manoeuvres were really impressive and total respect to him on that one when he went up the inside on Oliver [Chadwick] and Max [Coates]. He also drove around the outside of Myles [Collins] and Seb [Morris] – another unbelievable pass.
“It was superb to watch – absolutely brilliant to go from fourteenth to fifth. We have been waiting for this to happen and all of a sudden it has clicked. He is getting to grips with the car and I feel I am getting to grips with the car too – set-up wise I don't think we are far away.
“We have just got to move on now. We are determined to get a podium this year, but we will have to wait and see what we do in 2012.”