On the way to top individual points score of the weekend
The third round of the 2017 BTRA British Truck Racing Championship took place at Thruxton Circuit over the weekend of June 3 /4. The high-speed sweeping curves of the UKs fastest circuit combined with very changeable weather conditions to provide a real challenge for all the teams – but David Jenkins in the Digraph MAN was on top form and featured strongly in all four races to move up to third overall in the championship standings.
Saturday’s Qualifying went according to plan – with David securing fourth fastest time in a very tight session. Second to fourth places were extremely close; just 0.091 s covering the trio.
“Just 1/10th of a second quicker and we would have been lining up on the front row. But I’m confident we’ve now got a set-up that will work well whatever the conditions” explained David as he prepared for the opening race of the weekend.
In race one – which started dry but became increasingly slippery as drizzle started to fall – Dave claimed a fabulous third place – despite collecting a puncture on the opening lap. Running fourth for the first six laps he gradually closed in on the leading trio and claimed his podium spot by overhauling reigning champion Ryan Smith. At the chequered flag the black MAN was just 0.8 secs behind runner-up Summerfield (MAN) and only 1.4 secs behind the Volvo of race winner Oliver.
Race 2 on Sunday morning brought a brilliant second place for Jenkins after a real charge through the pack. With the Reverse Grid format in operation he’d started from nearly the back of the field – but a great opening lap on the dry circuit saw David up into fifth and a lap later he was through to third. With three laps to run the early race leader Terry Gibbon was overhauled – and then it was straight chase to the line, shadowing Smith all the way, just 0.4s splitting the two MANs after nine hectic laps – with Oliver over two seconds adrift.
That great result meant a starting slot near the back for Race 3 – but again Jenkins was up to the task – slicing through the pack to secure another second place and another 9 valuable championship points. Already fifth by the end of the opening lap Dave then reeled in the MANs of Coleman and Taylor – but it took another lap to overtake Michael Oliver’s Scania to gain second place. Unfortunately Mat Summerfield had by that stage already opened up a considerable lead of over 12 second – so Dave had no opportunity to really challenge for first, instead bringing his MAN home a comfortable 8 seconds clear of third-placed Coleman.
The sunshine had disappeared behind heavy clouds as the heavyweights lined up for the final race of the day – and there was indeed some light race mid-race to make conditions treacherous. As the grid took the rolling start from his fourth row spot Jenkins was confident he could again challenge for the podium – but as the lights flashed green he found himself spinning through 360 degrees and clipping the pit wall, following a hefty push from behind by Coleman.
That left him down at the back of field and nursing broken suspension – and facing the challenge of re-passing most of the field simply to get back into the top ten.
Getting his head down Dave then posted the fastest race lap of the weekend (1m.38.503s.) – an average speed of 86.1 mph – as he charged after the pack.
Despite a broken damper Jenks was up to 8th within three laps – where he again tangled with Coleman who put him onto the grass exiting the chicane, losing more time.
With another push to pass several slower trucks on a very slippery track Dave finally climbed back to claim a fighting fifth at the flag… securing another six valuable points.
Gaining a total of 32 points at Thruxton Jenkins was joint top individual scorer of the weekend – moving him up to third overall in the championship standings – and closing the gap of series leader Smith to just 13 points.
“Overall that was really a very satisfying weekend” said David after collecting his three trophies. “We’ve proved we can consistently run right at the front of the pack and keep putting in competitive times whatever the conditions. Now I can’t wait to get to the next event at Nurburgring (July 1 /2 )”