DONINGTON, England, April 29 - Anyone watching what Jeffrey Jones went through at the beginning of the Formula Renault 2000 race at Donington Park on Monday, April 24 would never have thought the 17-year-old from Casey Key, Fla., would be able to salvage a top-10 finish.
That's just what he did, however. His Tatuus, which carries the colors of JCI, PVS Chemicals, Winchester Ammunitions, Yogurt Delight, Dyam Design and the Make-A-Wish Foundation, crossed the line in tenth place in the 25-lap contest around Donington Park's 1.9573-mile course under cloudy but dry conditions.
Jones' car suffered with a severe oversteer in practice and qualifying, and he started 17th in the 24-car field.
When the green light flashed to start the race, Fernando Rama, Dillon Battistini and Vincent Apple crashed in the first turn. Jones had to take defensive action, and he fell to 18th.
The next five laps were run under yellow, which made everyone antsy. When the event restarted on lap six Jones leapt up the charts, vaulting into 15th place. He made some daring moves to the outside and steadily progressed through the field, advancing almost a position a lap, until lap 11. At that point he was running 11th, sandwiched between Michael Keohane (his teammate) and Tom Herridge.
Jones and Keohane were especially well matched, as Jones set the fourth-fastest lap of the event to Keohane's fifth-fastest lap.
Keohane and Herridge made contact on lap 20, which put Jones into tenth place. He then tried to reel in his teammate from last year, Tom Sisley, but time ran out and he crossed the finish line in tenth place to Sisley's ninth.
Kimi Raikkonen won the event over Ryan Dalziel and Danny Watts.
"I was confident going into the weekend of a top-five finish, as Donington is my favorite track," Jones said. "During qualifying I knew I had a mechanical problem, but we didn't find the problem until after the session was over. That put me too far back on the grid to do much more than work my way up into the top 10. I'm happy about the points I did receive and to maintain my seventh-place in the championship. I'm confident that without any drama next weekend at Thruxton, I'll be back in the top five."
The Donington Park race was part of the British Formula Renault 2000 Championship, as is the event at Thruxton April 30-May 1. At the series' first race, which was held at Brands Hatch in April, Norman Denham of the British Make-A-Wish Foundation received a check for $10,000 thanks to Jones' racing program and the work of Don Skidmore Jr. and Sr. of MSI (Motorsports, Inc.) of Riverview, Mich. Jones uses his racing program to promote donations to the charity, which grants wishes of seriously ill children. Some of the children attend the events, which are held in conjunction with British Touring Car races.
Jones is competing in the British series as well as the European Formula Renault 2000 Championship this season.