18-year-old Liverpool-based teenager Declan Jones once again demonstrated stunning pace during the fifth event of the 2013 Avon Tyres British GT Championship at Brands Hatch last weekend (August 10-11).
Declan, who is the youngest driver in the series this season, went to the Kent-based track looking to re-take the initiative in the battle for the British GT GT4 Championship title, and in both free practice sessions he comfortably lead the way in the Century Motorsport-run Ginetta G50 GT4 he shares with Zoe Wenham. Indeed he was around four to five tenths faster than his closest rivals.
The duo then looked a dead cert for the GT4 pole position, but unfortunately Declan missed his braking point towards the end of the lap at Clearways, when his foot got trapped under the brake pedal. Remarkably, however, he still took third on the grid, just 0.089s off P2 and only 0.352s off P1.
The following day, Declan topped the times in the warm-up and felt extremely positive going into the race. Sadly though, the race didn’t go to plan. Zoe started and was running third until she spun off into the gravel. That incident dropped her back and when Declan took over for his stint, he set a series of fastest laps, in between two trips to the pits – including one for a small fire around the diff.
Nevertheless Declan and Zoe still finished and took valuable points to keep them second in the British GT4 Drivers’ Championship, now 27.5 points off the leaders (118.5 points versus 146 points).
Declan also took the fastest lap, which was some consolation, and proof of his undoubted speed.
“In terms of the pace it was a good weekend,” Declan summarised. “I was quickest in GT4 in pretty much in every session. The only time I wasn’t was for qualifying. But I hold my hands up and admit I made a mistake.
“The race was a more difficult one. Zoe started and was doing well. But unfortunately she had a moment and put it in the gravel. She eventually got going again, but had to pit, so we could get all the stones out. She got going again and did another 10-15 minutes before we changed over.
“Straight away I was then on it, but I had a vibration problem. I pushed on, but had to stop because the area around the diff caught fire. The team did a great job to sort that and we went back out. Then the vibration problem got worse and we came into the pits and sat there until right at the end, when we went back out and just finished the race. That was just what we had to do. We didn’t want a DNF and at least that way we still got some points and finished fifth in class.”
“Overall it was an eventful weekend, it really was – we just had no luck. As I said though, I was very pleased with my pace,” added the Halewood Village-based youngster. “In the race no one could get near me, I was more than a second up on most laps and that was even with the problem with the differential!”
The Avon Tyres British GT Championship now continues next month when the series heads to Zandvoort in the Netherlands for rounds eight and nine (September 6-8): “I’ve never raced there yet, but I have done a day or two of testing. It is a really good track and I like it. It will be two one-hour sprint races. Hopefully we will have the paddle-shift there. That will put less stress on the car – it is a bit like a PlayStation then! I am really looking forward to it. I can’t wait,” he continued.
“Finally, I just want to say thanks to everyone at Century Motorsport, as well as my team-mate, Zoe and of course my sponsors, Chicago Soft, The London Perfume Company and HERO Energy, as well as my trainer, Dan at Taylors Fitness Training. We are all confident we can come back fighting in a few weeks time.”
Declan’s dad and manager, Kelvin Jones meanwhile said he was proud of his son given his age and the fact this is only still his second full year of circuit racing – and his first in British GT.
“Not the result we wanted,” stated Kelvin, “but Declan can be happy with his performance – for me it was another ten out of ten.
“He just goes out and drives and does what he does best – and that is all he can do. Everything else is out of his control. For the youngest driver on the grid, he continues to show unbelievable maturity. I am proud of him. Now we are just hoping we can claw some points back at Zandvoort and then go to Donington – for the finale – still well placed to challenge for the GT4 title.”
Photo by Matt Brookes, HERO Energy.