On August 27th Jay Daniels made his debut in the BRSCC Quaife Fiesta Championship, this being his first ever car race. The experienced kart racer had only ever tested the class C Fiesta ST once, the Friday test day ahead of the race weekend on the National circuit layout. He chose to run with the Race Car Consultants team for his debut weekend after speaking to the team boss David Ellesley earlier in the year.
During his first time out in the ST on the test day he showed a huge amount of potential as he quickly began setting lap times that would possibly see him qualify inside the top ten on Saturday. He knocked time off his lap times as he began learning the car and circuit all at once.
Saturday morning saw him out in the car during his first race weekend, all the Fiesta’s from class A, B, C and D were sent out onto the circuit together, totalling thirty-four cars on the track at once. There were eighteen class C cars. By the end of the session Daniels was sat in twelfth place in class and overall. He managed to complete fifteen laps of the national circuit, setting a best lap time of 1:11.013.
Jay Daniels out on track during practice at Silverstone. Photo Credit: Tilley Photography.
Next up it was time for Daniels’ first ever qualifying session in cars, it took place on a substantially wet circuit with rain still falling from the sky. Once again all cars from classes A, B, C and D were sent out on the circuit to qualify at the same time. He headed out with a hope of qualifying inside the top ten, although he had no experience of how the car handled in the wet under his belt. During the session he managed to complete five laps of the session, setting his fastest lap on his second lap. He was sat in eighth after setting a lap time of 1:21.795, yellow flags were being waved at turn one after a class B car rolled in the gravel trap. As Daniels headed into the corner he began feeling the car sliding, he overcorrected and the car ended up spinning into the gravel trap. Therefore, the session was red flagged to recover both he and the class B car. The red flags and appalling conditions saw a decision made that the drivers from the Fiesta Championship would be sent out for a further ten minutes on the Sunday morning to complete qualifying.
Daniels headed out for the second part of qualifying again hopeful of a top ten starting place for race one. This session was dry, meaning Saturday’s times would not be used as dry conditions meant the times were significantly quicker. His fastest lap from the dry session was a 1:10.436, putting him tenth for race one and with his second fastest time being 1:10.533 which puts him to start race two from eleventh.
The opening race of his debut weekend was in torrential rain, this being Jay’s first ever car race in the rain as well as his debut race in a car. The only experience he had of the car in the wet was the qualifying session on Saturday. After three laps of the opening race was completed Daniels had made his way up into fifth and was about to move into fourth as he made a move up the inside of Myles Baker along the start finish straight. He managed to get into fourth before Baker aquaplaned and spun into him. Luckily for Daniels the impact was on the passengers’ side, this sent him spinning onto the grass. Daniels dipped a wheel into the gravel which helped to straighten the car and continue. He only lost a few places, the safety car was brought out to allow recovery of Baker’s car to take place after the impact he made with the pit wall. Daniels finished his first ever car race in the championship in torrential conditions in eighth, despite the accident.
When he headed out onto the circuit for race two, the track was quite greasy, Daniels decided to opt for slicks on the front and wets on the rear. During the race he made his way up ninth place until on the fifth lap he made a mistake and overcorrected the car, resulting in getting stuck in the gravel. Marshals managed to tow Daniels out of the gravel and allowed him to re-join the race, albeit two laps behind. He managed to complete two more laps of the race before a red flag came out after a crash involving Aaron Thompson occurred at the final corner. Daniels finished the race in fourteenth.
He headed to Silverstone with goals of just to finish both races, but wanted to push into the top ten if possible. He achieved both goals after managing to qualify in tenth and finishing the first race in eighth and the second in fourteenth.
His second race weekend took place at Brands Hatch, located in Kent. He headed down to the circuit on Thursday 20th October ready for the test day on Friday. Once again Daniels had chosen to run with the Race Car Consultants team after such a promising outing at Silverstone. This was the first-time Daniels had ever been to the circuit to compete or even spectate. The first time he headed out onto the circuit was Friday morning as he had booked onto the Friday test day where he gets four thirty-minute sessions around the notorious Indy circuit.
During the first session he spun at Paddock Hill just after exiting the pit lane, this happened because of having cold tyres. Luckily he managed to stay out of the notorious gravel trap. A few laps later he had a spin at Surtees as he was beginning to learn the circuit and starting to push. Daniels did well during the first session considering he had never driven the circuit before and only spun twice. He managed to get his lap times down to just under the one minute barrier by the end of the session.
A couple of hours later it was time for session two, this time he did much better as he managed to set quite a few laps under the one minute barrier. His best lap time was a 59.09 as he began to push the limits of the car as he learnt the circuit. During this thirty minute session he had no spins.
Once again, a few hours later saw him head out for the third session. During this session he had one spin at Surtees but after that he was able to continue to lower his best lap times. Although he went quicker than in session two, he knew there was still more time to find.
The fourth and final practice session of the day took place late on Friday, throughout this session he did not have any spins. During the session he managed to find more time and improved his lap times.
Overall during the day Daniels did well to go out, learn the circuit on his own and only have three spins throughout the day as well as getting his lap times down. This helped to build some confidence for him as the more he was on the circuit the more at home he felt.
Saturday morning at 11:25 it was time for the Class C cars to head onto the circuit for the final practice session before qualifying later in the day. He completed twelve laps during the session, but his transponder was not working properly. The best lap time he set was a 57.741, again he knew there was more time to find but he was not far off the top pace, just 2.122 seconds. At the end of the session Daniels sat in thirteenth out of twenty, he had one spin early in the session at Graham Hill Bend, but re-joined and carried on.
Jay Daniels on three wheels at Brands Hatch. Photo Credit: Tilley Photography.
The second qualifying session in cars for Daniels took place at 16:09, his best time was a 57.285 putting him sixteenth on the grid for the opening encounter. A total of twenty laps were completed throughout the session, Daniels set his best time on lap seventeen. The second fastest lap he set was 57.360, putting him in sixteenth on the grid for race two.
The opening race of the weekend and Daniels’ third ever car race took place at 12:25 on Sunday. He started from sixteenth with Richard Dawson alongside. Unfortunately, Daniels got a bad start as he suffered quite a bit of wheelspin off the line, dropping him to last. Within a lap and a half of the short Indy circuit he had got back past Dana Freeman, David Pugh and Jason Powell. A few laps from the end of the race Ryan Faulconbridge spun at Paddock Hill, this allowed Daniels to take advantage and gain another place. Over the next few laps before the flag Dan Turner was handed a five second penalty for disrespecting track limits. Jay Daniels finished the race in thirteenth.
The second race of the weekend started at 15:57, He lined up in sixteenth again alongside Dawson. This time Daniels got a better start, he stood his ground and didn’t lose any places. On the opening lap of the race Dawson had an off, causing a section of the circuit to be under yellow flags to allow recovery to take place without the safety car being brought out. By the end of lap two Daniels was up into fourteenth. He was having a good battle with Tim Glover and Joshua Watkins. Glover managed to pass Watkins, this left Daniels chasing Watkins to take thirteenth place. On lap eight he had caught up and dived up the inside to take the place at Clearways but Watkins tried to block Daniels from completing the move but he had already made it. By Watkins moving across it caused unnecessary contact. Watkins had to retire immediately but Daniels managed to continue after receiving a hit from Watkins on the driver’s door whilst spinning. He went on to finish the race in thirteenth with a slightly damaged car.
Overall the weekend was a very positive and successful weekend for Jay Daniels at a circuit he had never been to. He made a lot of progress in just three days.
The whole Race Car Consultants team, all of Jay Daniels’ family and friends were extremely proud of the way he conducted himself throughout the two race weekends. He showed a lot of potential and made a lot of progress from the minute he first stepped into the car to the final race of the weekend at Brands Hatch. To be involved in two heavy incidents and never give up shows just how much determination Jay Daniels possesses.
Next year he is hoping to do a full season in the BRSCC Quaife Fiesta Championship but for this to happen he is looking for sponsorship to help him excel in his racing career and reach his goals/ambitions. If you can help Jay Daniels out or know anybody who can help this talented driver to progress in his racing career, you can contact him via his racing page on Facebook ‘Jay Daniels Racing, his twitter @jaydaniels_31 or you can email him directly on firstname.lastname@example.org
©Fay Tilley 20th November 2016.