Will Jenkins enjoyed a fantastic weekend in the Michelin Ginetta Junior Championship at Thruxton (28/29 August), converting a career best qualifying result into a trio of fantastic race performances including a fourth podium finish of the season.
Determined to bounce back strongly from a frustrating weekend at Knockhill last time out, Jenkins headed to Thruxton confident of being in the mix for good results. The Staffordshire racer impressed with a top six finish during the season opener at the Hampshire circuit back in May.
Jenkins got off to a fantastic start behind the wheel of his Hopkins Motorsport, Asset Alliance Group, Corroconsult and Digraph backed Ginetta G40, with blistering lap times around the 2.36 mile track resulting in him topping the timesheets in both of Friday’s free practice sessions.
The 16 year old duly converted that pace into a career best qualifying performance on Saturday morning, excelling in overcast conditions to secure second on the grid for race one and a brilliant maiden pole position for race two.
Both races followed that afternoon, with Jenkins producing a standout performance in the opener. Emerging from a close fought opening lap in second, he then pulled off a stunning move around the outside at the chicane to take the race lead on lap two.
With Thruxton’s slipstreaming nature leaving him under threat from the pack behind, he slipped back to fourth at one stage. The Stone based driver didn’t give up though and made late progress, culminating in a great move at the complex on the last lap to secure second place.
From pole position, Jenkins immediately made his mark in race two as he impressively led the pack through the first half of the race. After soaking up a lot of pressure, he was shuffled back to sixth position as they headed into the final two laps of the race.
A brilliant charge saw him gain two positions on each of those laps, the last of those coming with a perfectly executed switchback move at the complex. Post-race however, he was handed a ten second time penalty for an alleged false start, which dropped him to 17th in the final results.
The Elite Motorsport driver bounced back from that frustration with a strong showing in the final race on Sunday. Racing live on ITV4 and in front of a huge trackside crowd in Hampshire, he scythed his way up the order from the ninth row of the grid.
Moving up two spots on lap one before a safety car incident, he then swiftly rose into the top ten before mid-distance. Joining a mammoth battle for the top six, he picked off his rivals one by one to charge through to a brilliant sixth place at the chequered flag.
Unfortunately post-race he received a time penalty for being deemed to have gained an unfair advantage, demoting him to 11th. That takes nothing away from three standout performances that further confirm his leading speed and racecraft in the ultra-competitive championship.
Will Jenkins: “It’s an incredibly bittersweet weekend. I couldn’t be happier with the way I’ve driven and the performances I put in, however sadly some frustrating penalties mean the results on paper and points for the championship don’t reflect the pace we had.
“I enjoy visiting Thruxton and it immediately clicked for me on Friday. The car felt fantastic and to convert that pace into my best qualifying result so far was very satisfying. It put me in a great position for the races and I was delighted to fight back to second in race one.
“I felt I deserved the victory in race two, with the way I was overtaken for the lead and the questionable decision on the race start. Without it, race three would have been very different, but there’s nothing we can do now. I’m taking a lot of positives from the weekend and can’t wait to get back racing soon.”
The 2021 Michelin Ginetta Junior Championship continues in just under a months’ time, visiting Silverstone over the weekend of 25/26 September.
Images from Jakob Ebrey Photography.