Declan Jones extends lead with Rockingham runners-up spot
7 May 2013
17-year-old Liverpool-based teenager Declan Jones impressed in the second round of the 2013 Avon Tyres British GT Championship at Rockingham (May 5-6) and once again left with more silverware.
Declan, who began his debut season in the series in the best possible way last month at Oulton Park with a double victory in the two 60-minute sprint races, was looking forward to the trip to the Northamptonshire-based track and to getting back behind the wheel of the Century Motorsport-run Ginetta G50 GT4 he shares with Zoe Wenham.
With a field in excess of 30 cars in action on Rockingham's 2.56-mile International Long Circuit, it promised to be another fiercely competitive weekend and in qualifying, Declan posted the second best-time in GT4, just 0.128 seconds off the class pole, despite being held up on his best lap.
In the race - the first two-hour long affair of the 2013 British GT season - Zoe began before Declan took over for the final 1 hour and 10 minutes. Despite re-joining around 40 seconds adrift, Declan put in a remarkable charge, rising to second in GT4, less than 10 seconds behind the leader.
However the safety car was then deployed for the second time of the afternoon, splitting the two and as a result Declan lost a lap and any hope of victory. Not that he gave up as he continued to push, taking more than a second a lap out of his rival. Sadly however, he ran out of time, although second place was still a very good result.
Indeed Declan - and Zoe - now increase their tally in the British GT4 Drivers' Championship to 77 points, stretching their lead over their nearest rivals from 14 points to 39.5.
“It's been an eventful weekend,” Declan said. “Obviously I race to win and I want that every time I go out. But we still scored really well for the championship and that is really all that matters. I want that big trophy come the end of the year and I don't mind if I get a few little ones on the way.”
“In the race, when I got in Zoe had left me with quite a bit to do. But I really pushed and closed right up on the GT4 leader,” he continued. “But then the safety car came out and because the GT3 leaders had just overtaken me our rival got a lap on us.
“After the safety car went in the pack was all closed up and it was quite exciting. The third placed GT4 car was right behind me, but I banged in a few quick laps and pulled away. I then kept pushing and we were taking seconds a lap out of the GT4 leader. But it wasn't enough. I just had too much to do.
“The car ran well all weekend though, and the team did a fantastic job. My thanks go to them and of course my sponsors, Chicago Soft, The London Perfume Company and HERO Energy. I've also started working with a new trainer, Taylors Fitness Training. My fitness was good already but he has helped me take it to the next level.
“Overall, I'm pleased with the weekend. I've shown what I can do again and feel positive going forward.”
The 2013 Avon Tyres British GT Championship now heads to Silverstone at the end of the month (May 25-26) and Declan is well up for it: “It will be my longest race yet there. I have done two hour races before, but this will be three. We will have to do two stints and that is going to be interesting. It is going to be another exciting race and I will be out to perform once again,” he noted.
Declan's dad and manager, Kelvin Jones meanwhile felt his son had again done very well: “Declan drove out of his skin this weekend. It was another faultless drive and we are now leading the championship by even more points,” Kelvin continued.
“Unfortunately when Zoe handed over the car at 50 minutes she had lost quite a lot of time. That was a shame, but Declan responded and closed back up on the leaders. He got to just under 10 seconds away from the leader at the hour mark, but then the safety car came out and split them. That meant our rivals gained a lap and that is why we lost what I think would have been a comfortable victory. Declan still reeled them in after though, and took chunks out of them, but losing the lap sealed things.
“Still second is good and we can't complain about that too much. The team did a fantastic job this weekend as well. The pit stop was just mega. I was so impressed. They actually did it with 7 seconds to spare. It was absolutely on the money.
“We are now looking forward to going to Silverstone and will be out to win there in three weeks time.”