Declan Jones put in a brilliant performance in Rounds Seven and Eight of the 2011 Ginetta Junior Championship, running as high as fifth in the weekend's second race, before eventually finishing ninth after suffering a puncture.
The 15 year old Liverpudlian headed to his home event hoping to match the top-ten finish he picked up last time out at Thruxton, but suffered a tough start to the weekend, with a differential issue in Friday practice. With a new part fitted, he was able to go much better in Saturday warm up, however a brake issue in qualifying left him seventeenth in the grid.
Driving his family-run Kelvin Jones Motorsport Ginetta G40 Junior, he put his head down and hauled himself into twelfth place at the finish of race one, finishing less than six seconds off the top ten.
Race two took place in tricky wet conditions, but it didn't face the Chicago-Soft-backed driver, who was up to ninth by the end of the first lap. He then got as high as fifth and was challenging for fourth, but got caught up in a clash between his former team-mate, Paddy McClughan and Niall Murray on lap 3.
Jones explains: “My old team-mate spun in front of me through Lodge and I clipped him. It ripped off part of the front left of the car and then something started rubbing on the tyre.”
Despite the puncture, Jones soldiered on and crossed the line in ninth, the car racing rookie equalling his best result of the season so far.
Reflecting on the weekend, he said: “We had a really difficult start to the weekend with the diff going. But as soon as we changed that we found something like 1.7 seconds. Obviously that was a big boost. But then the brake pedal went long in qualifying and I really struggled.
“Race 1 was okay but we got the set-up really good for today's race. On lap 3 I was the quickest on the track and by lap 5 was fifth and catching fourth and third. But then the puncture came in and it was hard towards the end as it had gone completely flat. It wouldn't go around right-handers properly and I just had to try and keep people behind me and collect as many points as possible.”
Jones added twenty-one points to his tally over the weekend, his best haul of the season so far, meaning he heads to the next rounds at Croft with 59 points on the board.
Declan concluded: “I obviously want to try and improve at Croft. I know I can do it now and know I can be fast there and right up with the quick boys. A top-ten is definitely the target again.
“This weekend has been eventful and a bit bittersweet. There have been lots of ups and downs. But some points have been really good and that is what I want to remember.”
Declan's dad and boss of Kelvin Jones Motorsport, Kelvin Jones, commented on race two: “What a drive! That was unbelievable! We knew once it was wet he was going to be good today and he got right up to fifth. He was fastest on the track on lap 3 and nearly a second faster than Seb [Morris]. I thought he was on his way to the podium, he was that fast. But then obviously the tyre went flat and he had to battle his way to ninth.
“It is still a great to finish the weekend though, especially after what happened on Friday and Saturday. Now it is on to Croft in two weeks time and that will be mega. It will be a new track for us. We haven't tested there. We will be going for more top-ten finishes. Let's pray for rain too!”