Kennard ends on a high
Jonathan Kennard ended his British Formula 3 Championship campaign on a points-scoring high at Thruxton last weekend, following a difficult second half of the season. The Tunbridge Wells-based racing ace rounded out the season with a ninth-place finish at the super-fast Hampshire circuit.
The final race weekend of the year started like many others for 21-year old Alan Docking Racing driver Kennard, with changeable weather conditions and some bad luck making things tricky.
In first qualifying, which was damp but drying, tyre choice was critical and, with a dash to fit slick tyres at the end of the session before more rainfall, Kennard charged into the top 10, finishing ninth, but reckoned a bit more luck with the timing of his tyre changes could have seen him climb higher.
In qualifying two, Kennard and his ADR squad got the tyre timings perfect, but for a red flag which curtailed the session, Kennard believed he would have challenged for pole position. "If it hadn't have been for the stoppage, we would have been on top," explained Jonathan. "But once we went back out it was too wet to make any improvements."
Race one saw Kennard battle gamely against adversity once more, as he had to deal with a car struggling on the notoriously bumpy Thruxton track with a hub bearing failure, which caused the back of the car to collapse slightly. That meant that his unintentionally low Dallara was bouncing around hard enough to jar the pads from the brake discs, which in turn meant Kennard had little or no braking at points.
In a mind-concentrating moment, Kennard, who was scrapping all the while with Christian Bakkerud and Stuart Hall, arrived at the chicane at 145mph and the brake pedal went to the floor. Jonathan managed to make the corner but had to pump the brake pedal constantly and eventually, went off at the Complex when the brakes completely failed four laps later. Although he managed to nurse the car back to the pits, his race was run.
Starting from 15th in race two, Kennard drove a blinder, scything his way up to ninth by the end of the race thanks to an inspired decision to gamble on fitting slick, dry weather Avon Tyres on the grid. Only Kennard and Alberto Valerio took the gamble, but it proved to be the right choice, as the track started drying during the race.
Although the track was wet Jonathan managed to avoid spinning in the tricky conditions on slick tyres, Kennard soon started making up for lost time as a dry line appeared, and by the end of the race, he was lapping two seconds faster than the race leaders and closing in fast on Valerio. Only the fact that the Avon wet weather tyres held up so well in the drying conditions stopped Jonathan from climbing higher up the order.
The ninth place gave Kennard another two points to his season's tally, but the confidence and expertise to make the right decisions during the weekend proves yet again that he is a star of the future.