Three podiums & two fastest laps at Thruxton as MAN in Black moves up to third overall in the BTRA Championship!
During another action packed weekend (June 11/12) in the BTRA British Truck Racing Championship, David Jenkins showed he’s back on top form and all set to challenge for the top spot as the series moves on to Nurburgring (Germany) next month.
The sweeping high-speed curves of the Thruxton circuit always provide a real challenge and with the added complication of continuously changing weather (drizzle, light rain, heavy rain, strong sunshine) finding the ideal set-up for the Hampshire track required almost continual fine-tuning of the suspension settings. But Jenkins seemed to find the ‘sweet spot’ and his black MAN proved to be the quickest machine for much of the five-race programme.
In Qualifying Dave posted a best lap time of 1m.43.362s. (an average speed of 82.05mph) – which placed him on the front row of the grid alongside the MAN of Ryan Smith.
But the first of the races on Saturday proved to be slightly disappointing for Dave as he had to settle for a solid 4th place finish – a treacherous combination of dropped oil and light rain making almost the entire circuit a skating rink with minimal grip. But in the early stages – before the surface had been spoilt – Dave had the consolation of posting the fastest race lap with a time of 1m.39.519s (85.22mph).
Race two brought slightly improved conditions and Jenkins was soon on the charge again – rapidly progressing from the fifth row of the grid (Reverse grid format coming into operation), slicing through the pack to close right up to race leader Stuart Oliver.
Dave again posted the fastest lap of the race (1m. 38.965s) as he shadowed every move Oliver made. Through some sections of the lap Dave was visibly quicker – but the race leader defended his line fiercely and without risking physical contact Dave clearly wasn’t going to find a way through. After several laps of crowd-pleasing nose-to-tail dicing the duo flashed over the finishing line – just 0.264s. apart!
“A solid second place was not something to throw away – so I decided against making any heroic last lap passing manoeuvre as clearly Stuart wasn’t going to give me a centimetre” said runner-up Jenkins.
Sunday’s first outing (Race 3) saw the ‘summer’ weather again generating a semi-wet circuit where finding traction for the 1200 horsepower racetrucks was once more going to be a major issue.
The ‘Reverse Grid’ meant that Jenkins again faced an uphill battle – starting with ten determined rivals in front of him. But Dave was soon getting the task done in impressive fashion – making his way through to a podium spot within half a dozen laps.
He was actually drawing alongside the runner-up driver when the chequered flag was shown three laps early due to an incident involving other trucks.
Dave was pipped on the line for second spot by just 0.338s. – but still picked up his second trophy of the weekend and collected another 8 valuable championship points.
“One more lap and I’m confident I would have passed Brereton and could possibly have challenged for the lead” explained Dave.
Sunday’s second outing (race 4) once more saw Jenkins black MAN making huge progress from the rolling start – charging his way through the pack in the early laps to eventually slot into third place – with only two trucks between him and the chequered flag. With several laps remaining Jenkins looked more than capable of reeling in the MAN of Steve Thomas – but looming large in Dave’s mirrors was hard-charging Ryan Smith.
“I really had no option other than to go defensive and focus on holding off Ryan – which allowed Steve to maintain his two-second advantage over me” explained Dave post-race.
But third place for Jenks was a very respectable result – as he successfully fended off the championship leader – bringing more silverware and another 8 points.
Unfortunately Dave’s hopes of another podium result took a bit of bashing (as did the truck) in the incident-packed final race of the weekend. On the opening lap the stream of rapid racetrucks chased through Thruxton’s ‘Complex’ series of right/left/right turns and Jenkins was struck by Smith making an over-ambitious move – sending the black machine onto the grass. As Dave returned to the tarmac he took another whack from Thomas, losing further time.
But the determined Jenkins was soon battling his way back up the field, only to get clipped by the Renault of Garrett as he was passing him into the chicane, sending Dave into a full spin!
Even after all this unwanted attention Jenkins still managed to steer his way home in seventh spot.
“It didn’t end the way we wanted with that final race – but overall the Thruxton weekend was a major success story; three podium places, two fastest laps – and I’ve moved up to third overall in the championship.
Our on-going development is really making good progress. We’ve found some real pace in the truck – and should be in good form for the next outing at Nurburging (July 2/3), the biggest truck event in Europe – where I’ll be gunning for glory!” said Dave.