Will Jenkins scored a sensational maiden Michelin Ginetta Junior Championship race win as part of a memorable podium treble as he celebrated his best ever weekend in the series at Silverstone this past weekend (25/26 September).
After making a welcome return to the podium last time out at Thruxton, the Staffordshire racer headed to Silverstone in high spirits. Two days of official testing ahead of the meeting allowed him to get reacquainted with the short, fast 1.64 mile National layout.
With more than 100 laps under his belt across the two days, Jenkins converted that experience into a strong performance in qualifying to secure seventh and sixth on the grid for the opening two races. With the slipstream nature of the circuit, he was confident of racing well from there.
The 16 year old talent did exactly that in race one, pulling off some supreme overtaking moves as he impressively gained a position on each of the opening five laps. That propelled him to second place and he quickly hunted down the race leader.
Latching onto his tail in the closing stages, Jenkins gave it everything to try and dethrone him in his Elite Motorsport Ginetta G40. A bold move around the outside at Brooklands on the penultimate lap almost came off, but he had to settle for second at the finish.
After matching his best result in the series so far, the Hopkins Motorsport, Asset Alliance Group, Corroconsult and Digraph backed racer went one step higher on the podium in race two after what he described as “one of the best drives of my career so far”.
From sixth on the grid, Jenkins produced a brilliant start to negotiate an action-packed opening few corners and move into third place. Finding himself in the middle of a five way battle at the front, he gained another spot with an opportunistic move at Luffield on lap three.
Tucking under the rear wing of the leader, he made a decisive overtake into Brooklands on lap six to secure the race lead. He had a target on his back from there with a pack of cars trying to pass him, but he executed a faultless defensive drive to lead the last eight laps for victory.
The teenage rising star backed up his win with another brilliant performance in the final race, as he played a starring role live on ITV4. From pole position, he traded the lead on the opening lap before holding the advantage through the early stages.
Shuffled back to fourth on lap five, he regained a place soon after and set his sights on the top two. Bonnet damage would hamper his chances with a subsequent speed deficit on the straights, but he battled on and challenged for the lead during a frenetic final lap, eventually taking the flag in third.
Jenkins sits fourth in the championship standings heading into the final two rounds of the season, with a trip to Donington Park in two weeks’ time (09/10 October) being followed by the Brands Hatch finale a fortnight later (23/24 October).
Will Jenkins: “What a weekend! I’m absolutely over the moon. There’s been a couple of occasions this season that we’ve been close to a win, so to bring it home and get the first one under my belt is a fantastic feeling. To get two more podium finishes too makes it even sweeter.
“It wasn’t our best qualifying session, but Elite Motorsport tweaked the setup for the race and the car was fantastic. I loved every second of the racing; it was hard fought and you had to really think about every move you made, as one mistake could cost you a lot of places.
“I loved every second of it out there and I’m not sure I’ve driven better in the championship so far. Now I’ve got one win, I’d love to get more so it’s going to be maximum attack for the final two rounds.”
The Silverstone success ended an exciting week for Jenkins, who was named on the 12 driver shortlist for the 2022/23 Porsche GB Junior contest. The eventual winner will receive financial backing for two seasons in the Porsche Carrera Cup GB, as well as benefit from an extensive driver development programme.
Jenkins will head to the Porsche Experience Centre at Silverstone this week for an interview process, from which a final four will be chosen. That quartet will then return to Silverstone in early November for a day of driving, medical and media assessments.
Image from Jakob Ebrey Photography.