A strong start to 2017 season with two podiums.
The 2017 truck racing season got underway in fine weather conditions at Brands Hatch last weekend (March 25/26) – and David Jenkins showed that he will again be a major player, collecting 2nd and 3rd place finishes over two days of extremely close competition.
In fact the action really got underway on Friday afternoon – when the short Qualifying session to fix the grid for Race1 was held.
Jenkins in his Digraph MAN posted sixth fastest time with a very respectable 1m.00.794s lap time – but David was not as near to the front as he had hoped to be:
“The track was very crowded (not helped by a slow Division 2 truck running out of session) –and just as the opportunity came up for a really quick clean lap we had an overheating issue, caused by a new front grill”.
With less than half a second covering third to sixth positions it was clear the BTRA Division One contenders are going to be closely matched for 2017.
The opening race of the season took place on Saturday afternoon – and Jenkins was right at the centre of the action in some all-MAN battles, moving up to 5th as he made an early pass on Brereton. By lap four Jenkins was running 4th, finally overtaking Coleman – before dropping a spot as reigning champion Smith edged past mid race.
The remaining six laps saw Jenkins engaged in a lengthy tussle for fourth with Summerfield – Dave trailing his fellow MAN racer home by just 0.3secs. while setting an impressive 59.526s personal fastest lap.
But a post-race penalty for exceeding track limits added 5 seconds to Jenkins race time – so he was finally classified 7th in the official results.
“It’s still a good solid result for our first outing – and the vastly improved lap times show the real potential of our machinery. I’m sure we’ll be challenging for the podium tomorrow” said David as he made some minor adjustments to suspension settings ready for the busy Sunday schedule.
For Race 2 on Sunday morning the Jenkins MAN was once again lining up on the outside of the third row of the starting grid – but after making a superb getaway from the rolling start Jenks was soon running a strong second – hard on the heels of Shane Brereton (MAN). For the entire 16 laps of this race this pair dominated the proceedings – seldom separated by more than a metre or so and never more than a couple of truck lengths apart, both drivers consistently posting sub-one minute lap times while the rest of the chasing pack fell back.
At the chequered flag Jenkins was still in contention – but finally had to settle for the runner-up spot – with third placed driver (Summerfield) nearly 22 seconds adrift.
“It’s good to be back on the podium – and as we managed to pull so far clear of everybody else it was actually a nice situation to be in, concentrating on chasing Shane without being too concerned about another rival filling my mirrors!”
Of course that podium result did bring the ‘handicap’ of being placed back on row 5 of the grid for Race 3 – but Jenkins always relishes that kind of challenge!
By the end of a busy opening lap he was running 8th and next time around the Digraph MAN was up to 7th.
By lap three Dave had made up another place and on lap four he climbed into 4th position. He then closed in on Stuart Oliver (Volvo) – but four laps later the pair got caught up behind Coleman’s MAN.
Brereton – who had been shadowing Jenkins for four laps – took the opportunity to slip ahead and for the remaining nine laps fifth-placed Dave had to again study the rear of the blue and silver machine… unable to find a passing spot as Summerfield was following in his tyretracks.
At the end of 16 hectic laps the third to fifth-placed MAN drivers (Coleman, Brereton and Jenkins) were covered by just 0.69seconds.
The final race of the weekend saw Jenkins placed on the third row of the grid – and from the rolling start he powered away, soon slotting into third spot – this time gaining the advantage over close rivals Brereton and Oliver.
But the leading pack was very closely stacked; Jenkins was running in tight company with second positioned Summerfield – the field soon queuing up behind Oly Janes (Freightliner).
Soon Smith joined the fray and slotted in between Summerfield and Jenkins – with Oliver and Brereton making it into a six-truck freight train.
Everyone was jostling for position, posting impressive lap times and there was plenty to keep the large crowd on it’s toes – but the lead positions didn’t look like changing until the unfortunate Janes suffered compressor failure and pulled off.
So that left Summerfield to take the chequered flag just 0.4 secs clear of Smith. David Jenkins brought the Digraph MAN home in a worthy third (only 0.6 secs behind) – thereby securing his second podium placing of the weekend …and this time getting the better of Oliver and Brereton who completed the top five.
“Two podiums from four starts is a pretty promising start to the season” said David clutching his two trophies. “We’ve improved throughout the weekend – and we’re now regularly achieving near-record lap times, so we’re clearly headed in the right direction. Roll on round 2! ”
From this opening event of the 2017 championship Jenkins had netted a total of 27 points – leaving him just 5 down on the series leader at this early stage.
Round 2 of the 2017 BTRA British Truck Racing Championship will take place at Pembrey Circuit, South Wales on April 22/23.