Will Jenkins has secured title glory in the Protyre Motorsport Ginetta GT5 Challenge after producing the best performances of his career so far to take two race victories during a dramatic season finale at Donington Park (15/16 October).
In a weekend full of twists and turns as six drivers battled it out for the championship drivers’ title, the 17 year old talent put in two perfect drives under immense ‘win-or-bust’ pressure to score the crucial points needed to win the first championship of his blossoming car-racing career.
After a rollercoaster penultimate event of the season at Brands Hatch, Jenkins headed into the finale weekend with a 13 point deficit to the championship leader as he returned to the scene of a brilliant race win earlier in the season, albeit on Donington Park’s shorter National layout.
While it was his first race event on the full Grand Prix configuration in Leicestershire, Jenkins was up to speed with the 2.49 mile circuit courtesy of previous test sessions. He lit up the timesheets during two final days of testing in the lead up to the event, posting the quickest time on Friday.
The Staffordshire racer pushed hard in qualifying on Saturday morning and propelled himself up the times with two late efforts in his Elite Motorsport prepared Ginetta G40, securing fourth and second on the grid for the opening two races.
Jenkins went on to produce a superb drive in the opening race that afternoon, initially moving up to second on a busy first lap before an early safety car period. After the restart, heavily defensive driving from the leader backed Jenkins into the pack and left him vulnerable to a challenge.
Losing a spot on the penultimate lap, he fought to get it back on the final tour when a rival turned across him and sent them both onto the grass. Fortunately Jenkins managed to survive the off-track excursion to finish third, however post-race he was somehow deemed at fault for the last lap incident and handed a harsh penalty.
Therefore rather than heading into Sunday with the championship lead in hand, he was 18 points adrift of the summit. A great start to race two saw him overtake new points leader Mikey Doble heading down the Craner Curves for the first time to take the race lead.
Fellow title contender Harley Haughton soon slotted into second place and what followed was another exciting duel between the Elite team-mates. Briefly losing the lead at one stage, Jenkins fought back two corners later and soaked up the pressure over the remaining laps to take the race win.
Jenkins led home an Elite Motorsport one-two-three, a result that helped confirm them as the 2022 Teams’ champions, and crucially it secured him pole position for the final race. Sitting eight points off Doble in the standings, he knew he had to win the race to have hope of taking the title.
The Stone-based driver did exactly that, fending off early challenges from Doble before edging clear as the pack battled behind. Building his lead up to almost five seconds at one stage, he cruised home to a sixth win of the season, a result that confirmed him as the 2022 champion.
Title glory was the fitting conclusion to a sensational season for the Hopkins Motorsport, Asset Alliance Group and Digraph supported driver, who finished with more race wins (six) and podium finishes (12) than anyone else on the grid.
Will Jenkins: ’“I can’t believe it! We are the champions! This weekend has been a rollercoaster of emotions, from the hammer blow of our penalty on Saturday to the pure elation of finding out we had won the title
“There’s been so many twists and turns along our journey this season and many times it felt like the title was out of reach, but we kept fighting, never gave up and to eventually win it is incredible.
“Elite Motorsport have given me a car capable of winning every race this season and it was the same again this weekend. After the penalty on Saturday, I went into the final two races needing to win both and fortunately I had the car underneath me to do the job.
"The pressure was on me in both of the races; I simply could not afford to make a mistake. I went in with the attitude that I had to win the races and that there was no other option, and I managed to do it, which is an unbelievable feeling.
“This is truly the best day of my life, years of hard work paying off with a title win. Thank you so much to my family for all their support, to the fantastic team at Elite Motorsport for everything they’ve done for me, and to my loyal sponsors and partners for making it all possible.”
Images from Jakob Ebrey Photography.