An action-packed debut weekend for Jewiss
Kiern Jewiss experienced an eventful debut in the Ginetta Junior Championship as he kickstarted his sports car career at the Brands Hatch Indy Circuit this weekend.
After deciding to graduate from the karting ranks in March, Jewiss headed into the first meeting of 2017 with only a very limited amount of testing under his belt. Compared to the extensive testing programme that most rookies would have enjoyed from the end of 2016, Kiern entered the weekend as the least experienced driver on the grid – yet determined to make an impression.
Due to the rules and regulations, Jewiss has had to be accompanied in the car by Kieren Clark, Head of MB Partners’ Young Driver Academy, during all of his testing thus far meaning this weekend was the first time that the 14-year-old drove his Ginetta unaccompanied. Friday saw Jewiss and Douglas Motorsport team up for their first practice session and the Kent-based youngster was already showcasing his potential behind the wheel. In his first ever practice session, Kiern Jewiss finished the half hour session in 12th place and only a second behind the session leader, Daniel Harper. A stronger outing in the afternoon session saw Kiern rise up the order and finish the 30-minute session in 10th place – knocking four tenths off his morning’s personal best.
Saturday saw Kiern experience his first ever full day in the Ginetta Junior Championship, with practice, qualifying and race one all happening in one day. In the morning practice session, Kiern again climbed up the leaderboard to finish the session in eighth place – finishing with an identical time to teammate and seventh placed Connor Grady!
To determine the starting grid for the weekend’s two races, competitors’ two fastest lap-times in qualifying are taken forward to determine their starting position in both of the weekend’s races. Kiern’s best time of 57.513 seconds secured 12th position on the grid for Saturday’s race and his second-best time of 57.597 again delivered him 12th place for Sunday’s race – a strong showing from the Ginetta debutant.
The first race of the weekend saw the 14-year-old enjoy an eventful maiden race in the Championship on Saturday. Twenty minutes prior to the race the heavens opened, soaking the track and delaying the start by 10 minutes. The sun eventually battled through the clouds and begun to dry the tarmac in areas; leaving a partly wet, dry and greasy track for the young drivers to race on for the first round of 2017. Two formation laps were required for the drivers to clear any remaining standing water and to warm their tyres and brakes for the 18-lap race – a procedure Kiern had never experienced before in cars.
As the lights went out for Kiern Jewiss’ first ever race in Ginettas, Kiern got an excellent start and was quickly alongside the 11th place car heading into turn one at Paddock Hill, getting down the inside and moving up to 11th. Running up the hill into Druids, Kiern again showed his confidence behind the wheel, lunging down the inside and stealing 10th place from the #44 Ginetta. Jewiss then begun pushing the #29 infront of him and crossed the finishing line on the third lap trailing by just 0.1 seconds. Running in 10th place, and 2nd place in the Rookie Standings, the eighth lap saw a spin from #27 Scott McKenna – bringing the safety car out and providing Kiern with his first ever safety car restart in his career. When the lights went out on the safety car, Kiern was right on the tail of his teammate and looked set to pass the fellow Douglas Motorsport driver. Driving right on the limit, Jewiss was unsighted to the approaching apex and hit the standing water that had gathered on the inside of the track, sending his Ginetta into a spin and beaching the Ginetta in the gravel trap – ending his first ever race in Ginettas.
The weekend’s second race saw Kiern line up on the sixth row of the grid. A good start allowed Kiern to gain ground on the cars in front but being on the outside of the track, was pushed wide and lost a place – falling back to 13th. Kiern then begun hunting down the pack ahead and on lap 3 seemed set to pass the 12th place car. However, a late and over optimistic lunge from the car behind saw Kiern get tagged on the final corner, sending both cars into a spin and demoting Kiern to back. What followed was an excellent showcase of Kiern’s driving ability, fighting back through the pack on the Indy Circuit. Jewiss was passing drivers on almost every part of the track and recovered to finish 11th and get his first full race under his belt.
Reflecting on his first weekend of sports car racing, Kiern Jewiss remained positive despite the race results.
“It was an eventful weekend to say the least. I felt I was getting stronger in the car as the weekend went on and I can’t wait to get back out on the track and keep improving. I was disappointed with myself on Saturday for pushing a bit too hard and sending the car into a spin but these things happen so I can’t be too mad at myself! I know I’m a rookie and these first few rounds are about getting rid of the rookie mistakes and getting used to the car.”
Head of MB Partners’ Young Driver Academy, Kieren Clark, saw the potential but is fully aware of the areas Kiern needs to improve.
“Off the back of such a short testing schedule, I was really impressed with how Kiern looked on his debut race weekend. It’s never easy at your first ever race and I’m amazed how relaxed and confident Kiern was. Looking forward to Donington Park, Kiern knows where he needs to improve to go quicker and I’m positive we will start seeing him move up the time sheets as the weeks pass and he gets more time understanding the car.”
The Ginetta Junior Championship now moves onto Donington Park in two weeks (14th – 16th April) and will include a third race on the Sunday.