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THE INSIDE WORD FROM SILVERSTONE

Declan Jones saves best for last at Silverstone

Declan Jones concluded his maiden season in the 2011 Ginetta Junior Championship at Silverstone last weekend in fine form, with a strong showing in rounds nineteen and twenty.

Declan Jones concluded his maiden season in the 2011 Ginetta Junior Championship at Silverstone last weekend in fine form, with a strong showing in rounds nineteen and twenty.

Declan, who made the step up to the Ginetta Junior Championship for 14-17 year-olds this season, after several successful years in the Lewis Hamilton and Bernie Ecclestone Formula One Management-backed Formula Kart Stars Series and in the Super One Rotax Series, was slowed by severe engine problems last time out at Brands Hatch. However with no such issues this time he was able to show great pace around Silverstone's 1.639-mile National Circuit.

Indeed the Chicago Soft-backed youngster was right at the front in practice on Friday, a switch to TJ Motorsport paying early dividends. He then maintained that momentum on Saturday morning, finishing third overall in the official free practice session - his best lap a 1 minute 10.533 seconds, which left him just 0.087 seconds off P2.

Qualifying was just as positive and while he slipped to ninth, he was just three tenths off third and a place on the second row.

The first race saw the Liverpudlian storm up to sixth at the start in his Ginetta G40J. Unfortunately though, going into Becketts, he got taken out by one of his rivals and while he could continue, with the steering damaged, he did well to make it to the chequered flag, eventually classified in 14th.

"It has been great with TJ Motorsport from the word go," Declan said. "It is a nice team and everyone is really welcoming.

"We were good in practice and the car felt strong on Saturday and we had really high hopes. I felt I should have been a bit higher in qualifying but I just couldn't quite hook up a lap with a really good tow.

"Then in the first race we went from ninth to sixth at the start. It was going well. But after the contact the steering was destroyed - you have holding points for the steering wheel and they were literally bent the opposite way they should have been - and all I could do was bring it home."

The next day in the second race, which was screened live on UK television on ITV4, Declan made another great start and was up to fifth at the end of the first tour. Although he slipped back to sixth on lap two, he re-gained P5 on lap six, all the time running right up with a gaggle of cars that trailed eventual race winner, Niall Murray and 2011 Ginetta Junior Champion, Seb Morris.

With one lap to the 'flag, he looked set to at least equal his best result of the year. However, it wasn't to be and when two of his rivals made contact in front, the 16-year-old was left with nowhere to go. He finished 13th.

"I had a fantastic start again, probably one of my best of the year," Declan continued. "I was able to do the same lap times as everyone in front of me and I was running right up with them.

"But then it all kicked off directly ahead of me on the very final lap with three corners to go - and I was taken out, again. I guess it was a racing incident. It is racing at the end of the day and you have got to get on with it, although it is obviously disappointing.

"It has been an eventful weekend and while the results might not show it, it was very positive.

"With a bit of better luck we could definitely have got a podium, but still the pace was there. I have learnt loads this year. The set-up is now very good and with fine tweaking I think it could easily be a winning car."

Declan ends his rookie campaign 13th in the standings - having notched up 172 points and having scored in 17 of the 20 races.

It is not quite over however, as he will take in the stand-alone Ginetta GT Winter Cup event at Snetterton next month (November 5-6) and with four separate Ginetta Junior races on the bill, he could yet end 2011 with a rostrum.

"I am really looking forward to the Winter Cup," Declan added. "This weekend has been another massive confidence booster.

"It will be good to go back to Snetterton having raced there in August too. It is a nice track. I will be going into it hoping to come away with some trophies. I'm determined to try and get a podium there."

Declan's dad, manager and chief mechanic, Kelvin Jones meanwhile felt there were many positives to take from the Silverstone finale.

"The race today was probably Declan's best of the year," Kelvin stated. "Knockhill may be his best results wise, as he was fifth, but today he was extremely fast. He has been very quick throughout the weekend and I think we could have had near-on-a-podium in both races. Dec was just unlucky to be twice taken out. The positive though is the speed. We knew we were going to get there and we most definitely have.

"We have the Winter Cup to focus on now and we will again run with TJ Motorsport. I wanted to get a feel for them this weekend and we will do the same at Snetterton. We will then look to finalise our plans for 2012.

"I am convinced with the right package Declan can be a championship contender next year."

Anybody that would like to get involved and support Declan should contact Kelvin on +44 (0)7989 585186.

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