Liverpool-based teenager Declan Jones overcame engine woes to take two top-ten finishes in the latest rounds of the Ginetta Junior Championship at Brands Hatch.
Declan, taking part in his maiden year in the championship, headed to Brands in confident mood after a strong showing last time out at Rockingham. The weekend began well on Friday, Jones being right in the mix with Westbourne Motorsport, however his progress was halted on Saturday when his engine began to play up.
The problem left the Chicago Soft-backed youngster having to settle for thirteenth on the grid and although a new engine was purchased in a bid to solve the issue, there was no time to fit it before the first race that day. Despite that, Jones fought through to take a tenth place finish.
Declan said: “It was frustrating knowing we were basically running on three cylinders. The day before we had been something like P6 or P7 in the first practice session and we were really happy. Then on Saturday we had the problems with the engine and we just didn't have time to change it for the race. I just had to drive the best I could in the end and tenth wasn't bad in the circumstances.”
The next day, with a fresh engine fitted, Declan was hopeful he would be able to bounce back, but however his G40J remained down on power. The 16 year old didn't give up though and in another action-packed race, he made his way through to claim his second top-ten finish of the weekend with ninth.
Jones commented: “Obviously I had high hopes on Sunday. I thought with the new engine I'd have a lot more power and so to go out and have less power was really frustrating. But my dad kept saying to me: 'Bring it home, bring it home and collect points'. And that is what I did again.
“Overall it has been difficult weekend and at times quite tough. But considering all our problems the results were still really good. I've come away with a lot of points and so there is a lot to be positive about.”
In the end, Declan picked up 23 points at Brands, his second best haul of the season. Moving up to a joint twelfth in the championship, Jones will conclude his debut season in the Ginettas in two weeks time when the series heads to Silverstone.
Declan's dad, manager and chief mechanic, Kelvin Jones added: “It wasn't an easy weekend for Declan or the team. Between qualifying and the first race I went and bought a new engine. We fitted it overnight for the second race but it was actually worse.
“It has got to go back to Ginetta on Wednesday now and they are going to have it for the day on the dyno to try and find out what the problem is. Despite all that though, for Dec to still bring it home tenth and ninth in the two races, was very good. We think he has done extremely well given he was fighting with one hand tied behind his back.
“We are now looking forward to Silverstone. It will be the last round and it is going to be one to watch. Declan is praying for rain. We were quickest there in pre-season testing in the wet and that was with them all on track. If we give him the right equipment, I know he is capable of doing really well. We will be out to end the year on a high before then starting to think about our plans for next year.”