An unforgettable weekend for Jack

Jack Manchester completed his action packed weekend double header in Germany and Belgium, with great results in the Audi Sport TT Cup at Nürburgring and the Radical Challenge in Spa-Francorchamps which saw him come away with a win and a second place – add into the mix it was the young drivers first time on these legendary circuits and he had to start from the back of the grid in Spa as his race in Germany prevented him from doing testing or qualifying!

Starting his week with a trip to Germany, Jack joined up with the Audi Sport team at the infamous Nürburgring as the series supported the Nürburgring 24 Hour race. Scorching temperatures and clear blue skies made perfect racing conditions but turned the car into a sauna.

Kick starting the action on Thursday; Jack began the weekend with a fifty-minute practice to build on his experience in the car and learn the new track, before beginning the task of shaving his lap times off. A good practice and qualifying saw Jack close the gap to first place by almost a second compared to the results of Hockenheim three weeks earlier, highlighting the MB Partners’ Young Driver’s progress in the car.

Audi Sport TT Cup

The first race on Friday saw Jack get off to a good start as he maintained his position through lap one. As drivers struggled and made errors on the track, Jack drove a solid race and moved up the standings. A safety car after the first lap saw action get underway again a few laps later, only for Tommaso Mosca to lose control of his Audi TT and smash into the barrier, causing a red flag to be brought out after only a few laps of racing. With the race ending so early, no points were registered for the first race of the weekend, despite Jack coming home three positions better off than his starting position.

Still with limited running time on the track and in the car, Jack worked hard prior to Saturday’s race with driver coach, Kieren Clark, to understand how he could improve in the weekend’s second race. A more confident Jack Manchester got into the car prior to the morning’s race and this confidence was shown on the track. A similar start to race one saw Jack get off the line well, improve his position and keep his nose out of any trouble. As other drivers fell off the track and fell behind Jack, the Surrey-based youngster did not let them past and held his position with great skill. Even though his counterparts possessed more experience with front-wheel drive, knew the circuits; Jack was matching them sector by sector and beat his fastest lap of the weekend more than five times in the race.

Another big crash saw Finlay Hutchison and Yannik Brandt come together, resulting in the race finishing behind the safety car due to damaged barriers. Crossing the line in 11th place concluded a fantastic second weekend in the Audi Sport TT Cup as Jack again closed the gap to the front runners and gained more confidence in his new surroundings.

Jack Manchester reflected on his second weekend in the Audi Sport TT Cup. 

“This weekend was always going to be a challenge and the Audi Sport TT Cup definitely was a stern test in front of the Nürburgring 24 Hour fans. Another new track took a while to get used to and it was about finding the limit early on. I am still learning the car and in qualifying I may have over driven a little but that changed in the races. Race two was a blast! My first few laps were my best all weekend and then I was just going faster and faster. It shows that with some running I can fulfil my potential behind the wheel in this type of car but, with the very limited race time we are having and zero testing policy, it’s a good challenge for me to get things hooked up at the start of the weekend so I am looking forward to racing at the historic Norisring and build on my experience and results.”

Head of the MB Partners Young Driver Academy, Kieren Clark, saw this as another positive step towards success for Jack.

“Jack showed his maturity and ability this weekend at a tough circuit in front of large crowds. Having never driven here before we knew it would be difficult starting the weekend as this is a tough circuit to learn. Jack listened to my advice and we both worked really hard to go quicker around the track. Jack was constantly going through the data and on-boards to find out where he was losing time. By the end of the weekend, Jack looked just as quick as the front runners and was the fastest he had been all weekend.”

Heading over the border into Belgium, Jack then moved onto Spa-Francorchamps for the Radical Challenge. A merger between the European Masters and UK series saw 30 cars come together for the second round of the season. After missing the weekend’s testing and qualifying Jack had to start his first of two race on Sunday last on the grid!

A downpour an hour prior to the race on Sunday morning, saw a greasy track play host to race two of the weekend and Jack’s first ever experience of the legendary track. No practice, no qualifying and starting in last place in variable conditions - Jack had a huge challenge on his hands as he took to the track.

Radical Challenge

With the race being declared as a wet start, some drivers opted for wets while others chose the slicks. Jack opted for the slicks on a greasy Spa track and the race began behind the safety car for the two first laps. When the safety car pulled in and the race was on, Jack began his climb up the order.

You’d have been forgiven for thinking that Spa was Jack’s home circuit at this point, passing cars at every part of the track and after the first few laps was already 10 places better off than he was at the start.

Now inside the top-20 Jack came in for his mandatory pit stop and 45 second time penalty, due to teammate James Robinson winning Saturday’s race. As the chequered flag dropped for the hour-long race, Jack crossed the line 15 places higher up than he was at the start and took second place in the Team Class in front of the Belgian fans, enjoying his first taste of podium success at this iconic track.

The final race of the weekend saw Jack share driving duties with James Robinson. Again, starting at the back of the pack James took the first stint. A wet track this time saw all the cars go for the wet weather tyres – with part of the track drenched while the other was fairly dry.  James did a great job and handed the car over to Jack at the half hour mark.

The team opted for slicks at the pit stop, despite it being only Jack’s second taste of action on the track and guided the car all the way home and the pair took the win at Spa-Francorchamps in epic style, beating the next team car by a huge margin!

Jack reflected on a great win for the team and himself.

“I came to Spa with no knowledge of the track and had no idea how I would drive my Radical round here in the dry, let alone the wet, variable conditions. Starting at the back made things very exciting and I liked hunting through the pack. We knew this would be a weekend with nothing to lose, as we had no practice or qualifying, so to come through the pack in both races and to finish 1st and 2nd is just amazing. A huge thanks to the guys at Scorpio and to James for sharing the car with me, it was a great team effort and I’m really proud of how the weekend went.”

Kieren Clark saw Jack’s weekend at Spa as a huge learning experience and was impressed with how quickly he got up to speed.

“To jump from an ABS, power steering and traction controlled Audi TT race car to a Radical with high-aero and none of these aids takes a lot of skill, especially on unknown tracks. Jack got up to speed really quickly and showcased his fast developing abilities. Taking the win and finishing in second is an amazing achievement and we are all really proud of how he has carried himself this weekend and the results he has picked up are fantastic and an extremely busy weekend for Jack proved more than worth it.”

Jack moves onto Silverstone for the next round of the Radical Challenge Cup from the 16th of June.