After suffering first day crash damage and one non-finish, a determined David Jenkins fought back to take two third places and finish the Pembrey weekend with a win.
Sunshine and a dry circuit greeted the teams for Round 2 of the 2017 BTRA British Truck Racing Championship at Pembrey Circuit but – as usual – the demanding Welsh track served up more than it’s fair share of incidents during two days of fierce competition.
During Qualifying David posted 3rd fastest time – with a best lap of 1m. 11.943s. That was a great lap for the Digraph MAN – just 0.156s away from second spot and only 0.323s off the ‘pole’ time – and secured Jenkins a starting slot on the inside of row two for Saturday’s opening race. But David felt slightly disappointed with this after his best lap was compromised by traffic.
Unfortunately the first race proved to be a fruitless affair for David – who had been looking set for a good result. Already in second place, powering out of the first hairpin turn the black MAN was clipped by Oliver and the impact caused a broken halfshaft.
That’s a rare part to fail on the MAN – but it effectively left Jenkins with one-wheel drive (not helped by a tyre that was also punctured).
Despite this handicap – once the pit crew had checked for all safety matters – Dave soldiered on at a reduced pace to take the chequered flag, but unfortunately was not classified.
“Not the ideal start to the weekend” was Dave’s disappointed response as he set about replacing the damaged parts to be ready for a busy Sunday with four outings.
Saturday’s result meant Jenkins was now starting from the back row of the grid in Race 2 – but an excellent getaway from the rolling start saw him making some great early progress, slotting into fifth by the end of lap two.
With two of the drivers in front collecting penalties the final results were rather different from the ‘on the road’ situation.
At the finish Dave was placed third, just 0.466s behind rival MAN driver Summerfield – but 1.8 seconds clear of the reigning champion Ryan Smith at the line.
For Race 3 there was again a fourth row starting slot to cope with (courtesy of the Reverse Grid effect)… but once again ‘MAN in black’ Jenkins was on a charge and became involved in a battle with Oly Janes (the Freightliner driver eventually retiring).
Dave then started to chase after Brereton, but was running out of laps.
At the chequered flag David had again secured the third place spot on the podium – some 15 seconds clear of 4th placed Terry Gibbon.
The initial start of Race 4 was aborted on the opening lap with a number of trucks taking to the grass – and one stranded with steering failure.
In the second-turn confusion Jenkins machine took a hit – while avoiding Coleman he was collected by Summerfield.
Although the truck was still running OK and took the re-start – running as high as fourth for the first three laps – Jenkins had once again picked up a rear puncture – but he still battled on to claim a satisfactory sixth place.
Starting the final race of the weekend from a position on the outside of the front row, the rolling start saw Jenkins soon through to the front of the field.
Setting the fastest lap of the race – an impressive 1m.11.609s – quicker than the pole position time in Qualifying – Jenkins pulled away in the lead, taking the chequered flag to record his first win of the 2017 season – nearly four and half seconds ahead of runner-up Oliver.
David’s total points tally for the weekend was 31 (despite one zero score) – which keeps him within 14 points of the championship leader.
“Our lap times this weekend were much improved – showing our recent engineering changes have proved worthwhile” said a delighted Jenkins.
“We knew the truck had great potential – and now we’re back right on the pace, capable of fighting for the championship.
I’m already looking forward to our next event at Thruxton (June 2/3)”