Will Jenkins narrowly missed out on a podium finish as he secured a great hat-trick of top six class finishes in his Porsche Sprint Challenge GB debut at Donington Park this past weekend (22/23 April).
The trip to Leicestershire kicked off a hugely exciting 2023 campaign for Jenkins, who makes the step up to one-make Porsche racing for the first time as part of BTCC team Motorbase Performance’s Young Driver Programme, with headline support from team partner Wera Tools.
While a late delivery of his Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport led to a reduced pre-season testing programme, some positive running for Jenkins with top GT team Century Motorsport meant he headed into the season in a confident mood.
Two days of official testing at Donington Park in the lead up to the opening round completed his preparations ahead of qualifying on Saturday morning, with a competitive showing in his Cayman seeing the Staffordshire racer secure seventh on the grid for his debut Porsche race.
Jenkins, who races with the support of loyal personal partners Hopkins Motorsport, Asset Alliance Group, The Reefer Trailer Centre and Culina Group, produced a sensational start to race one as he gained three places across the opening two laps to settle in fourth.
A superbly-executed move into the final chicane on lap four then netted him a podium place, however an unfortunate moment at the same corner a few laps later dropped him back to fourth. After briefly slipping to fifth, he fought back immediately to regain fourth and hold it to the finish.
Sunshine turned to rainfall overnight ahead of races two and three, unfortunately leaving Jenkins on the back foot having never previously had the chance to drive the car in the wet. He was able to make some early progress in the morning encounter, gaining two places to fourth on lap one.
After a pair of safety car periods, the 18-year-old talent found himself in the middle of a five-way battle for second position. While he attempted to push on and make progress, he would unfortunately slip back to sixth position before the chequered flag.
Jenkins, three-time race-winner at Donington Park last season en-route to finishing vice-champion in the Ginetta GT5 Challenge, was able to secure a strong finish in treacherous conditions in the final race to ensure he signed off his debut weekend with an impressive hat-trick of top six finishes.
Will Jenkins: ’“It’s been a pretty solid first weekend in a new championship with a new car and a new team. Ultimately I want to be up there challenging for race wins and podiums, but I know coming in that it would be a tough challenge this weekend against teams and drivers with a lot more experience of the car.
“After a strong qualifying, I was really pleased to move forward in race one. It was a shame not to hang onto third place, but it was still a great result. Sunday was a real challenge with the wet weather, I was learning on the go with the car, so a pair of sixth places was good damage limitation.
“A big thank you to Century Motorsport, who have worked tirelessly to make steps forward with the car. We’re still got some work to do to reach the ultimate front-running pace, but we’ve got a good baseline to work from and we’re confident we can be pushing for the podium next time out.”
The 2023 Porsche Sprint Challenge GB season continues in four weeks’ time with three races around the Snetterton 300 circuit in Norfolk (20/21 May).
Image from Porsche GB.