Declan Jones put in a brilliant performance at Oulton Park last weekend in rounds seven and eight of the 2011 Ginetta Junior Championship, running as high as fifth in the second race and eventually finishing ninth, despite a puncture.
Declan, who has moved up to the Ginetta Junior Championship for 14-17 year-olds this season, went into the event again gunning for a top-ten to match what he had managed last time out at Thruxton, and the 15-year-old duly delivered - and in some style too.
Indeed despite a tough start to his home event, with the Chicago-Soft-backed youngster slowed by a differential issue in unofficial practice on Friday, he bounced back the next day and with a new diff fitted he was almost two seconds a lap quicker and a solid 13th in practice. His mechanical woes however were not over and in qualifying brake problems meant he was unable to set a representative time in his family-run Kelvin Jones Motorsport Ginetta G40J, leaving him only 17th on the grid.
Declan put his head down though, and in the first race hauled his car up the order to twelfth, less than six seconds off the top-ten.
The following day saw the weather take a turn for the worse, but in drying and gloomy conditions, the Liverpudlian immediately made headway in the second race, which was screened live on UK TV on ITV4
, and he was ninth by the end of the first lap.
He then got up as high as fifth and was fast closing on fourth, until slowed by a puncture, a result of getting caught up in a clash between his former team-mate, Paddy McClughan and Niall Murray on lap 3: “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,” Declan explained.
Despite being hindered by the puncture though, which later went flat, the Ginetta Junior rookie hung on and still got a top-ten, eventually crossing the line in ninth, to equal his best result thus far in the championship.
“We had a really difficult start to the weekend with the diff going,” Declan continued. “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.”