Zoe Wenham and Declan Jones headed to Brands Hatch last weekend hoping to turn around the bad luck that has seen them lose the GT4 championship lead to their rivals Rick Parfitt Jr and Ryan Ratcliffe in recent races.
Things started well with the Century motorsport run pair setting fastest GT4 times in both practice sessions in their Ginetta G50 GT4. They headed into qualifying, held last thing on Saturday feeling fill of confidence.
Declan headed out first and pushed hard setting quick lap times but he had a few moments, getting sideways a few times including on the final corner. Ultimately he ended up third in class by the time it was Zoe’s turn. It would be up to Zoe if they were to take class pole and she pushed as hard as she could. Unfortunately the tyres now seemed past their best and the car was not handling well with it sliding on several corners. Despite giving it everything, Zoe was unable to beat Declan’s time and so they would start third in GT4. Zoe was very unhappy with how things had gone but although this obviously wasn’t ideal, it was far from a disaster and a win was still easily possible.
The usual short warm up session was the first thing on Sunday and the team were again fastest of the GT4 cars so things were looking good. Zoe would take the start and do the first stint and then hand over to Declan at around halfway. After speaking to guests and sponsors during the rest of the morning, Zoe then headed to get ready for the race.
The grid formed up at around 1:30pm ready for the race to get underway at 1:40pm. Zoe got a good start and easily held her position off the line and kept in touch with the two GT4 cars ahead of her. The car was very twitchy but Zoe was going well. After a few laps the faster GT3 cars started to lap the GT4 runners, the first few passed without incident but then disaster struck. Going into the final corner one of the Mclarens came up to lap Zoe but it squeezed her over and off the side of the track sending the car into the gravel trap. Fortunately the car could be recovered from there but a lot of time had been lost. Zoe headed straight for the pits where the loose gravel needed to be cleanedout the car. This took up even more time but it needed to be done to prevent the small stones causing mechanical issues. The team worked as quickly as they could and Zoe roared back into the race.
Sadly with all the time lost the team were now fifth in class. At around half distance it was time to hand over to Declan. The stop went well and Declan headed back out. There was still time to climb back up the field particularly if other cars had problems.
This proved to be the case later in the race when the GT4 aston Martin of Steve Chaplin and Tom Wilson had a run in with a Barwell GT3 Aston and spent several laps stuck in the gravel.
Sadly though it was not the end of Zoe and Declan’s problems and Declan had to pit twice with Differential problems. This left them in last place but fifth of the GT4 runners salvaging some potentially vital points in the championship.
What had promised to be a winning weekend that may have regained the championship lead had turned into one of their worst races of the season but not through any fault of the team or the drivers.
Zoe, Declan and the team now look forward to the next round at Zandvort early in September. Zoe had her first ever podium there in the Volkswagen cup so it’s a circuit which holds good memories. They’ll be targeting a win to try and regain the championship lead from their Rivals Ryan Ratlcliffe and Rick Parfitt Jr. The championship will then head to Donington for the finale in early October. By Marc Waller