Declan Jones closed in on his GT4 rivals in the British GT Championship after a rollercoaster weekend at Zandvoort.
The 18-year-old was partnered with team owner Nathan Freke, after previous partner Zoe Wenham was forced to sit out of the remainder of the season, meaning the duo were handed a 40kg ballast penalty.
Jones drove to an impressive GT4 pole (15th overall), 3.8 seconds ahead of his closest rivals after making the bold choice to use slick tyres on a damp track. Freke also put in a strong performance in qualifying 2, securing second in GT4.
Early contact in the opening race with title rivals Ryan Ratcliffe and Rick Parfitt Jr of Optimum Motorsport meant the duo had to contend with handling issues for the remainder of the race. Jones and Freke ended the race in third, slashing the deficit to just 12.5 points after the Optimum Motorsport machine failed to make it to the finish.
Sunday’s race saw the duo fight back from an early mechanical issue to take the victory, before the stewards found an issue with the car’s catalytic converter and excluded the #43 from the race.
“What a weekend – it has just been full of ups and downs,” said Declan. “It was great to get the pole on Saturday. Qualifying was obviously fantastic and I hooked it up perfectly – it was a super lap. Then Nathan’s qualifying went fantastic too. In the first race we got third and we were pretty happy with that, especially as we were down on power. The incident with Rick Parfitt Jnr was a strange one. He tried to overtake and I was letting him go, but he just cut across my nose under braking into the first corner and I had nowhere to go. He then ended up putting it in the barriers a few laps later. The pressure just seemed to get to him…
“To get excluded after [Sunday’s race] was bitterly disappointing. Nevertheless we are still very much in with a championship chance and certainly won’t be giving up without a big fight. It was also an absolute pleasure to have Nathan as my team-mate this weekend. Without a doubt he is one of the best GT drivers in the UK and it is great to have such a yardstick. I think it will really help me to progress. “We are 12.5 points down now in the championship, that makes it tight, but equally we have nothing to lose going to Donington and can just really go for it.”