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.
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!"