03 May, 2017
British racing driver, Alex Jones, proved he has upped his game for 2017 by consistently running in the top 10 throughout his opening race weekend of the year in the Ravenol Formula Vee Championship at Brands Hatch GP, Kent.
Having missed the season-opener at Outlon Park last month due to personal commitments, Radlett-based Jones wasted no time in reacquainting himself with the car in qualifying by putting the #23 entry in 7th and 8th on the grid for Race 1 and 2 respectively, despite the tricky wet conditions.
In Race 1, Jones made a solid start and held position on the opening lap of the race. However, his run was brought to a premature close when, battling with Steve Ough for 7th, he outbraked himself into Paddock and fell victim of the gravel trap.
Monday afternoon's second outing for the Vee's would see a torrential downpour just before the field was called to the assembly area - so severe in fact that the tunnel under the circuit linking the outer paddock and pit area was completely flooded.
Although the rain had stopped by the time the lights went out, the field had to contend with a vast amount of standing water on the track and a lack of visibility.
Jones lost ground in the second phase of the start when he was unable to engage second gear and had to jump to third, dropping him down from 8th to 13th.
Determined to make up for lost ground, he battled his way back up to P8 in the opening stages before the safety car was deployed.
On the restart, Jones nearly repeated his mistake in Race 1 at Paddock but managed to save the car from the gravel and keep the momentum going this time, without losing position, and held his ground in 8th.
In the closing stages he inherited P7 when his team mate retired and, despite suffering a vibration during the final laps, he nursed the car to the chequered flag.
"I'm fairly happy with my pace this weekend", reflected Jones. "I'm slightly disappointed with myself for making a mistake and not finishing Race 1 - the conditions were very difficult and I was just caught out under braking at Paddock.
"To be consistently in the top 8 this weekend is a really encouraging sign that we're making steps towards the front, but I'm under no illusions that the competition is getting tougher and will undoubtedly continue to.
"I really hope we can get out at Croft in 4 weeks' time. It was the scene of my best ever result in Formula Vee last season so I hope, with this weekend showing promise, we can carry our pace and momentum through."
The Formula Vee calendar heads to Croft, North Yorkshire for Rounds 5 & 6 on 27th - 28th May.