Dave wins at Donington!
by Jonathan Reeves
Two podiums see Digraph #MANinBlack driver move up to second overall in the championship.
David Jenkins was on top form as the fifth round of the 2017 BTRA British Truck Racing Championship took place on his ‘home’ circuit, Donington Park, over the weekend of July 22/23.
Despite some changeable weather a very large crowd (including OVER 1200 Digraph guests) turned out to watch some fiercely competitive racing with a top-class entry of heavyweight machinery.
It was certainly a weekend to remember for fans of the Team Digraph MAN driver as Jenkins started the weekend with a strong second place in Saturday’s opening race, only narrowly headed home by visiting French star Anthony Janiec.
The second incident-shortened outing brought a solid sixth – then on Sunday morning Jenkins really turned on the style to secure a superb win, pulling off a late move to pass the Iveco of Simon Reid.
Race 4 saw another charge through the pack to collecting a fighting fifth – and the final saw Dave just missing out another podium with a fabulous fourth.
Those consistent strong results brought his points tally for the weekend up to an impressive 37 – moving Jenkins up into second overall position in the BTRA Division One rankings.
A busy weekend at Donington saw everyone dropped in at the deep end – going straight into a short but scintillating Qualifying session which saw the top five drivers were separated by just 3/10ths of a second.
Jenkins and his crew had worked hard to get a good set up for the rapidly changing track conditions and he was holding pole position for most of the session, posting a best time of 1m.26.808s. – only being pipped in the final moments which left him fourth on the grid.
“We only had 15 minutes of Qualifying, so no real opportunities to try any major changes. We had a dry circuit this morning – but looking at the forecast we’ve got to be ready for everything this weekend, so a spot on the second row of the grid is a promising start” explained Jenkins.
From his fourth spot on the starting grid Jenkins was away like a shot as the lights flashed green for Race One – soon slotting in right behind race leader Janiec through Redgate corner on the opening lap.
Mid-race Jenkins really piled on the pressure – circulating in the tyretracks of the fast Frenchman, the pair of MANs separated by less than one second for almost the entire race.
Despite a massive effort on the final lap Dave was unable to find any passing opportunity and finally had to be satisfied with a very close runner-up spot – after 11 thrilling laps just 0.529s splitting the pair.
Third placed Smith came in some three seconds behind the leading duo.
“A good start to the weekend…and I’m sure we’ve got a bit more performance to come” said Dave as he collected his first silverware of the day.
Race 2 saw conditions deteriorating as drizzle set in – and Dave was sitting back in 10th spot as the ‘Reverse Grid’ format kicked in. But Dave was again making good early progress – already into 8th on the opening lap. But everything came to a halt as red flags were displayed after just two laps – with Taylor’s MAN stuck in the tyre wall.
When the event was re-started –Jenkins didn’t waste any time… again progressing from his fifth row grid spot and engaged in a fierce battle in what had become a real ‘Sprint’ race (scheduled to run just four laps!) – eventually netting sixth place.
“No time to really recover any lost ground – as the chequered flag came out after just over 6 minutes of racing, but we’re well placed for Sunday now!” said Jenks as torrential rain set in for Saturday evening.
With some bright sun and a dry circuit everyone was fired up for the start of racing on Sunday morning – and Jenkins certainly didn’t disappoint his army of supporters.
From row two of the grid Dave was on the gas the moment the starting lights flashed green, diving into the opening turn tight on the heels of race leader Simon Reid, just 0.7 seconds behind the Iveco at the end of the first lap.
For the next 11 laps those two could have been covered by a large blanket – Reid defending the inside line into every turn while Dave searched for a way to get ahead. With just two laps to run just quarter of a second split the dicing duo as they flashed over the line – and into Redgate turn the pair were gently exchanging paintwork!
Finally as they started the very last lap Reid made a slight error diving into that same corner – slightly outbraking himself and running wide, giving Jenkins the opportunity he’d been patiently waiting for.
The Digraph MAN was through into the lead – with the fast-closing Ryan Smith following through, while Reid had a short run through the gravel trap to finally recover for third. A jubilant Jenkins took the chequered flag – claiming victory 0.279s ahead of his fierce rival Smith.
“That was a really good battle with Simon right from the start. I certainly enjoyed it – and I hope the fans did too” said the race victor.
Of course that win brought with it the ‘handicap’ of being dropped back to 10th spot on the Reversed Grid for Race 4 – but Jenkins can’t resist a challenge and was again right on the pace. Quickly slicing through the traffic he moved up to fifth place by the start of lap 2 and was then on the end of a high-speed freight train of MANs lined up behind the very resistant Michael Oliver.
With Summerfield in front and Stuart Oliver looming large in his mirrors there was no room for error – and actually minimal overtaking, so Dave held on to fifth right to the flag.
With all the top Division One and Division 2 machinery combined there was a very full grid for the final race of the day.
But a first lap incident with a heavy coming together between Janiec and Summerfield saw the race red flagged.
With the damaged vehicles removed the field re-assembled. Making his usual lightening start Dave was quickly up to third place, shadowing race leaders Smith and Oliver.
But with the race getting very physical mid-race and a number of exchanges of position Dave finally settled for fourth, thereby securing another 7 valuable championship points.
With his total for the weekend adding up to an impressive 37 points – Jenkins moved up to a strong second overall in the championship standings.
There is now a short summer ‘pause’ in the BTRA Championship calendar – but you can be sure that Jenkins workshop will be busy over the next few weeks before the action gets underway again at Snetterton Circuit (Norfolk) on September 9/10.
BTRA British Truck Racing Championship
Division One Points
1) Smith (MAN) 175
2) Jenkins (Digraph MAN) 144
3) Brereton (MAN) 140
4) Summerfield (MAN) 134
5) Oliver (Volvo) 132
6) Coleman (MAN) 80