Declan Jones to graduate to Ginettas with Kelvin Jones Motorsport Liverpool-based youngster signs off with a win in the final round of the Formula Kart Stars (FKS) series at Ellough Park - and with family-run Kelvin Jones Motorsport, is ...
Declan Jones to graduate to Ginettas with Kelvin Jones Motorsport
Liverpool-based youngster signs off with a win in the final round of the Formula Kart Stars (FKS) series at Ellough Park - and with family-run Kelvin Jones Motorsport, is plotting his next step up the motorsport ladder.
Declan Jones concluded his Formula Kart Stars (FKS) career on a high last weekend and he has now officially announced that he will step up to the Ginetta Junior Championship in 2010.
Declan, who has been competing in the FKS Junior Rotax class for 13-17 year olds this season, went into rounds eleven and twelve of the Lewis Hamilton and Bernie Ecclestone Formula One Management-backed series looking to secure third place in the standings.
The Chicago Soft-backed youngster started solidly and while he was slightly disappointed to only be sixth in qualifying for the penultimate round, he went for it in the two heats, finishing fourth and third.
Although he was taken out in the round eleven final, the 15-year-old lost no ground to championship protagonist, Josh Parker, as his rival was also a victim of the early mayhem.
"We didn't get the set-up right quite right for qualifying," said Declan. "But we soon got it hooked up for the heats. It was pretty good for those two races and in the second one I gained quite a few points on Josh.
"However, in the final, halfway through the first corner, I got taken out. The incident ripped the radiator off and split the sparkplug in two.
"It was a real shame. The only consolation - from a championship point of view - was that Josh also retired. That was good for me. But at the same time it was a bad result."
The next day, Declan continued to perform, despite the tremendous pressure and he was third in the second FKS Junior Rotax qualifying session in his Dave Smith Racing-run kart.
He then took second and fourth in the heats, before doing as well as he possibly could in the round twelve decider. Declan seized the lead in the final on lap 8 and then maintained the position all the way to the chequered flag, finishing 1.66 seconds up on Parker. It was a great result and the perfect way to end his FKS career.
Sadly though, it wasn't quite enough to give him third place in the standings. Indeed while he came as close as was practically possible - and finishes the year with exactly the same points total as his season long rival, he misses out by two points when the highest dropped score is taken into account.
"Qualifying was a lot better today," Declan reflected. "I took third and in the first heat I was on the inside and got second right away. Then in the second one we changed the tyres pressures. We went out on cold tyres and we lost some ground. But on the last lap, I caught right back up and was up with second and third. However, I just couldn't get passed.
"The victory in the final was a huge relief. My aim for the whole weekend was just to get as many points as possible and to try and beat Parker. It was a shame we couldn't quite get third in the championship. But it was still a really, really good weekend and to get that win was just a massive bonus."
Declan is now looking to next season and with a number of karting accolades in the bag this year - including having become the Manchester and Buxton Winter Cup Champion, Rowrah CKRC O plate Champion, the GYG Dragon Master for the second time and having secured the prestigious MSA-seeded #15 in Super One - he feels ready to take the next step and progress to cars.
Indeed he can't wait for 2011 when he will run in the Ginetta Junior Championship: "We will definitely be doing the Ginettas next year," he added. "It is going to be a family-run team with my dad and his company, Kelvin Jones Motorsport.
"I have really enjoyed this year. It has been really good - my best year yet. I have had three FKS podiums - a first, a second and a third, and a good few more in the Club rounds. But I want to keep progressing. I want to keep going forward now. I'll be looking to build on everything I have managed this year."
Bradley Ellis, leading sportscar racer, former British GT champion and Formula Kart Stars Junior Rotax Class Sponsor, who is coaching Declan, believes he is ready to move up.
"Declan's win at the final Formula Kart Stars Ellough round was a fitting end to an impressive year. It was great to watch him in action last weekend and his efforts certainly caught my attention and that of the MSA Performance Master Class team," Ellis commented.
"Declan has been a leading contender all season and his smooth driving style has shone through but some poor luck has meant the race results haven't truly reflected his skill.
"The Junior Rotax class is fiercely competitive and to finish where he did is a massive achievement.
"I wish him every success as he makes the big step to graduate from karts to cars in 2011 and I am sure we will soon see him back on the top step of the podium in Ginetta Junior."
Declan's father and manager Kelvin, meanwhile, is happy with what they have achieved and he thinks the time is right to look for new challenges.
"Declan has done very well this year," he continued. "The drivers' in the top four places have been the same since the first rounds back in April at Rowrah. It has always been out of them.
"We have had four DNFs this season and without them we would have been pushing [Ash] Hand [who won the class].
"That is a great achievement, especially when you consider we are not a big team. We basically had one good engine and it is not easy to take on Strawberry Racing, Vital Motorsport or any of these teams. We have had to work hard to get what we got, but Dave Smith Racing nevertheless did a great job and none of our achievements would have been possible without them.
"Obviously there is a bit of disappointment. We were desperate to get third in the championship and we have chased Parker all year. But Declan has had three podiums and to finish off with a win is very good, especially now we are moving away from karts.
"We made the decision to do the Ginettas a while ago. In fact I ordered the car about a month ago. We are looking forward to that. Declan will also get an early taste of it when he competes in the Ginetta Scholarship Shoot-out this week (his prize for finishing in the top five in the FKS Juniors this season).
"Everything is starting to come together for us. Chicago Soft, an American company, has confirmed it is coming on board again for the third year running in 2011. That is great news. Dave [Smith] is also going to continue to work with us when dates permit.
"Bradley [Ellis] is going to coach Declan. Bobby Rahal - another one of my customers - has taken Declan under his wing. Declan gets on very well with him. We want to nurture and develop these relationships over the next couple of years. Declan is making the most of all these words of wisdom and is taking it all onboard. It is all very exciting for us and we hope to have some more announcements to make in the near future."