Perfect conclusion to Manchester’s 2017 campaign

Jack Manchester capped off an excellent 2017 season with a dominant display in Barcelona this weekend where the 19-year-old British star stormed to victory in two of the weekend’s three races.

The youngster headed to Barcelona looking to build on his recent red-hot form in the Radical European Masters where he had taken three victories from the six races he had contested this year. A win at Silverstone was followed by two wins at Monza, meaning Jack headed to Spain in a confident mood for the fifth, and final, round of the year.

With the Spanish circuit drenched in sunshine, perfect driving conditions lay in wait for Jack who was making his debut at the infamous Catalonian circuit. Running at the top end of the timesheets throughout Friday’s first practice session, Jack and his Scorpio team began to experiment on the car before the session was brought to an early conclusion.

In search of the perfect setup for qualifying, a stronger showing in the second practice session saw Jack post an incredibly quick time of 1:49.587 to top the timesheets as the fastest man in his class and left the Oxford Vaughan-sponsored driver full of confidence as he entered qualifying.

As fog and low light looked set to jeopardise qualifying on Saturday morning, race officials decided to move it to Friday evening instead. As the format was changed to two twelve-minute sessions, the entire field headed out for the short qualifying and traffic became a big issue for Manchester.

Looking like the man to beat to pole position, Jack’s laps were compromised by traffic and denied him the chance to hook up a perfect lap – with his lap time of 1:51.038 only enough to secure a 3rd place start for the first race of the weekend. Second qualifying saw a much-improved lap time from Manchester with a 1:49.944 but traffic again denied him pole position as he finished the session in 2nd place.

Race One

Lining up in 3rd place for the first race of the weekend, the rolling start in Barcelona saw Jack get a blistering start as he surged into second place and began hustling the pole position car for the lead. Searching for the perfect opportunity, Jack decided to tuck in behind the pole car and play the patient game without risking it all in the early stages.

Sticking with the leader, Jack pace was clear to see but carrying a forty-second time success penalty for his wins in Monza, Manchester saved the life in his tyres for later in the race when he would need it most. Pitting on lap 17 from second place, Jack’s agonisingly long pitstop finally concluded as he rejoined in 3rd place – twenty seconds behind second place and forty seconds behind the leader.

With 26 minutes left on the clock, Jack was a man on a mission as he began to catch the leaders at a rapid pace and in just 10 minutes, Jack had reduced the gap to second place to just a second. Inevitably, Jack flew past into second place and began to hunt down the leader – setting the scene for a dramatic finale to race one.  

As the clock showed less than 5 minutes to run, Jack was hot on the tail of the race leader and was evidently the quicker man. Looking like a matter of when and not if, Jack’s outstanding pace saw him finally cruise through into the lead down into turn one and he controlled the final minutes of the race to take the chequered flag - sealing victory in the first race of the weekend!

“That was a great way to start the races this weekend! The car felt absolutely amazing and I felt in complete control. The success penalty was always going to make things harder but I just focused on hooking my sectors up. I knew when I arrived on the leader I had the pace to get past so the key was to remain patient and wait for the right moment. I’m really happy to take the win and it’s a brilliant way to start the weekend!"

“It was a really frustrating couple of qualifying sessions as the pace was definitely there for pole but I couldn’t find the space on track to unlock it. P3 and P2 are still good positions to launch an attack from and my combined time puts me in P1 for the 3rd and final race, so we’ll still be pushing for the wins this weekend.”

Race Two

Starting the second race of the weekend in second place, Jack started so well that he was on the tail of the larger Masters’ Class SR8 in front quicker than expected and had to touch the brakes to avoid contact.

Jack was lying in second in class when the pack arrived at the tight right hander at turn four when he was tagged at the back of his car on the nearside, sending the car into a spin leaving him beached and frustrated in the gravel trap as the rest of the field surged away.

Eventually being pulled out of the gravel, Jack stayed in the race but was already a lap down by the time he got running again - theoretically ending his race. Jack came through to take the chequered flag but was left to rue events on the first lap of the race.

“To be hit like that was a really frustrating way to end my race as there was nothing I could have done to avoid being hit. I’m really disappointed as I definitely think we could have taken another victory but now I just have to focus on the final race and fight for the win.”

Race Three

Combining the two qualifying times and finding the average, Jack’s times from qualifying meant he lined up from pole position for the final race of the season. Getting a lightning start from pole, Jack kept the lead through the nerve-racking opening stage of the race and managed to keep his nose out of trouble and surge ahead as the field behind came together at turn one.

Controlling the final race of the weekend, Jack powered away from the field and pulled out a mammoth forty-second lead to his next opponent before diving into the pits with 28 minutes left on the clock. Carrying a twenty-second success penalty, Jack’s fantastic work to pull out a big gap meant that when he rejoined the race after his stop he was still leading the way in Barcelona by some distance. It was a tremendously dominant performance from the Surrey racer from start to finish.

Posting the fastest lap of the race, Jack took the chequered flag to take victory by over thirty seconds and completed a hat trick in the final race of the season – taking pole position, posting the race’s fastest lap and securing the victory.

Jack was delighted to end his season in such dominant fashion and was thankful for all the hard work put in by the team.

“It’s really special to end the season in this way! Pole, fastest lap and the victory – I couldn’t be happier with my performance especially as there a couple of great pros in the race and this weekend was my first outing on this track. The team were fantastic and it wouldn’t have been possible without them. We have worked really hard together and nailed the setup which is key to a good weekend here. I have been gaining in experience and confidence every race and the two wins here in Barcelona is the perfect end to a really strong and successful season. Racing is my passion and I can’t wait to take on my next challenges. I am learning fast and I am excited about 2018 already.

Jack’s dominance in the Radical European Masters means he finishes the Drivers’ Championship in 3rdplace, despite only competing in 60% of the season’s races – a phenomenal stat for the MBP Academy driver.