Liverpool-based teenager battles engine woes and rivals en-route to two top-ten finishes in the latest rounds of the Ginetta Junior Championship
Declan Jones took two top-ten finishes during rounds seventeen and eighteen of the 2011 Ginetta Junior Championship at Brands Hatch last weekend, despite severe engine problems that left him down on power.
Declan, who has graduated to the Ginetta Junior Championship for 14-17 year-olds this season and who went to the Kent-based circuit still buzzing following a strong showing last time out at Rockingham, began well on the Friday and was right in the mix in practice for Westbourne Motorsport.
However on Saturday morning the engine began to play up and while changes were made prior to qualifying, the issue persisted with the Chicago Soft-backed youngster having to settle for the 13th best time.
Although a new engine was purchased in a bid to solve the issue, there was no time to fit it for the first race later that day.
However the Liverpudlian got on with and was eventually rewarded with yet another top-ten.
“It was frustrating knowing we were basically running on three cylinders,” Declan said. “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 much to his disappointment his Ginetta G40J remained down on power.
Never one to give up though, the 16-year-old persevered, and in another action-packed Ginetta Junior race screened live on UK television on ITV4, he made his way through to claim his second top-ten of the weekend, eventually classified in ninth.
“Obviously I had high hopes on Sunday,” Declan continued. “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.”
Indeed in the end, Declan scored 23 points - his second best haul of the season - and that increases his total to 157, bumping him up to joint 12th place in the championship.
He will now conclude his debut season in the Ginettas in two weeks time (October 15-16), when the MSA British Touring Car Championship-support series heads to Silverstone for rounds 19 and 20, and he is looking forward to getting back out on the National circuit.
“When we tested there at the start of the year in the wet I was really quick. Hopefully it will rain again when we go back,” Declan added. “I like Silverstone and I really want try and get on the podium there.”
Declan’s dad, manager and chief mechanic, Kelvin Jones meanwhile is also looking forward to the finale.
Furthermore with Ginetta due to examine the car this week in a bid to diagnose why it was so down on power at Brands, he is also hopeful Silverstone will prove rewarding.
“It wasn’t an easy weekend for Declan or the team,” Kelvin reflected. “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.”