A season of experiences for Dave Jenkins and Morris Lubricants
Following a successful season which secured him second in the British Truck Racing Association (BTRA) Class 1 championship, Morris Lubricants-backed truck racer Dave Jenkins is already raring to go for next year, hoping that the momentum of a successful season will carry him into first place for 2020.
The truck racing season saw 32 races spread over eight weekends, with famous British circuits such as Brands Hatch and Thruxton joined by Germany’s Nürburgring. Throughout the season, Dave was in the title fight, taking multiple wins, pole positions and fastest laps in his Morris-backed Team Digraph MAN TGX 12000.
Out of the box
“We got off to a brilliant start, pole positions, fastest laps, in both the first two weekends and we were in the hunt for the championship at the beginning of the season,” says Dave. “We lacked a bit of momentum in the middle part. Both Nürburgring and Donnington were not great rounds for us in terms of scoring points. Then we went to Snetterton and had a brilliant weekend with wins and fastest laps, and at the three-quarter stage we were within 12 points of the lead again.”
However, in a championship where consistency is critical, with just a one-point gap between finishing positions, a late-season race retirement put paid to championship contention.
“At the penultimate event in Pembury, we got tangled up with another driver. It was a racing incident, but a piece of bodywork came up underneath the truck, sheared a front brake supply off and two corners later I had no front brakes.
“Thankfully it didn’t result in a catastrophic crash, but it did mean I recorded a DNF in that race. That left us trailing the championship by thirty points with only one race weekend left. That was the turning point of the season and meant I went into the Brands Hatch event looking really to consolidate second place in the championship. We couldn’t give up though, in case [eventual champion] Ryan Smith encountered any issues.’
Three podiums from the final four races at brands Hatch were not enough to overturn the points deficit, however. ‘We were at least able to show that had we not had the DNF, the end-of-season result might have been different, and at least we were still in the fight. But it’s the points loss that cost us,’ Dave says.
“So, it was a strong beginning, and a good end, but ultimately just not enough to take the title.”
In a season so closely contested, it was the first turns of the wheel in anger in April and May that Dave picks out as his best performance.
“The pole positions at Brands Hatch and Pembury at the start of the season were the highlight for me,” he reminisces. “When you qualify on pole position and start the first race of the weekend on the front row of the gird, it sets you off on the right foot.
“To come out from the winter and go straight to Brands Hatch with no testing and get pole position on the first run out was a perfect feeling at the start of the year.”
While a second-place may be slightly disappointing for a former champion, 2019 adds another year of experience to Dave’s CV. Both he and the team are hoping to carry the momentum gained from the positive finale into next season.
“We have some technical changes planned for the truck and hope to do some testing over the winter. We will come right back out fighting,” he adds. “We go racing because we enjoy it, in a strange kind of way it is relaxing, getting us away from normal work. But you also want to do well, and when you’ve been near to the top for so often as we have, and when you’ve won the championship previously, anything less than that can be a bit of a disappointment, and it pushes us to do better.”
Dave also used this year to adapt to a new role, becoming less ‘hands-on’ with his truck and concentrating mainly on the driving. “I’m getting older, I’ve got family commitments, additional work pressure, it’s harder work than before preparing for an event than it used to be,” he says. But I’m supported by a very able and very willing team, which has allowed me to step back a bit from the engineering side of things this year and concentrate on the driving, although I still have been involved in the mechanics at some point this year!”
Dave has been backed all season by Morris Lubricants, a relationship that has seen him become a brand ambassador for the Shrewsbury-based company, promoting its range of heavy-duty oils, fluids and lubricants as well as getting involved with fellow ambassador Guy Martin on some projects.
“Morris has been brilliant this year. We’ve had great interaction from them and their guests. We’ve been proud to represent Morris Lubricants, as we always have been and long may it continue,” he concludes.
A Youthful Ambassador
Morris Lubricants brand ambassador Lydia Walmsley talks about her career, hopes for the future and how much her work with the oil and lubricants specialist means to her.
Motorsport can provide a challenging environment for young drivers. However, for Lydia Walmsley, competing in the Mini Challenge championship is made easier thanks to her partnership with Morris Lubricants.
The company is supporting Lydia as she looks to progress through the ranks of British racing, a journey that the 17-year-old started just ten years ago.
I was always into dance when I was younger,” Lydia recalls. “It was at the age of seven or eight that I started showing an interest in motorsport. My dad raced since before I was born, competing on oval tracks and winning championships, so I’d been around racing for so long.
I think it was meant to be if I’m honest because I was surrounded by it all the time. My Dad said he would get me into a go-kart, so we went to Buckmore Park, and that’s how my journey started.”
And start it did. Lydia completed the Bambino training course before starting to race at her local indoor track in Ipswich when she was eight. “I did that for a year, becoming vice-champion and losing the title by a point, which was gutting!”
Karts to cars
From there it was on to outdoor karting at Ellough Park, before starting in cars when she was just 14, in the Junior Saloon Car Championship (JSCC). “There are very few junior championships, so we chose the JSCC,” Lydia comments. “Then the Mini Challenge seemed like a good step for us. You can start senior racing when you are 16, so as soon as I was, I moved up into the Mini Challenge. We chose it as it was quite similar to the Citroen Saxo that I raced in the JSCC – both front wheel drive. The only real change was the slick tyres that we now race on in the Mini Challenge, but we thought that there was such a great route as there are so many different stepping stones from the series.”
Lydia currently races in the Cooper Pro class, with the John Cooper Works (JCW) Class the next step.
Lydia’s ambitions do not stop there: “I’d love to be racing in the British Touring Car Championship (BTCC),” she mentions when asked what her future might hold. “I’ve been watching it since I was a very young girl and the racing seems so close. I’d also like to do things like presenting on the television and get my instructors licence as well, so I can teach others on the track. But if I’m racing, I want it to be in the BTCC.
“The championship goes to all the tracks in the UK, and I’m familiar with them. Plus, it’s the top tier of British motorsport, and the racing is so close. It seems like such a fantastic atmosphere, so it’s something I’d love to be a part of.”
This year, Exeler8 Motorsport, the company that builds and runs the Mini Challenge championships, has also built a BTCC challenger. Champions from the Cooper Pro and JCW series will win the opportunity to test the car at the end of the season.
To get to the BTCC takes experience and knowledge, something Lydia is gaining in her time racing in the Cooper Pro series.
“Last year was such a big learning curve, not just for me but for my team as well. They’ve learnt a lot about the car set-up especially. Even though the Mini was fairly similar to the Saxo I’ve raced before, there is still a lot to learn on the mechanical side of things. I’ve learnt more about car handling.”
Mistakes also contribute to experience, and perhaps Lydia’s biggest lesson came at Cadwell Park last year. “I rolled the car there, in the qualifying round,” she reflects. “It wasn’t the first time I have done that, it happened in the JSCC, and the accident at Cadwell wasn’t as big. But it did damage the car significantly – we couldn’t take part in the race, and repairs were only finished on the morning we left for the next event!”
Accidents like this have not knocked Lydia. “Missing the race due to that incident made me even more determined to do well in the next round,” she says. “I’m sure I’ll be learning more in 2019, but I do think last year has put us in a good place for a really good season.”
It is this determination that has seen Lydia appointed as a brand ambassador for Morris Lubricants. Approaching them at the Autosport International show a few years ago, the Lubricants specialist now features heavily on the Mini Lydia races on tracks around the UK.
Morris Lubricants have been amazing; they are so supportive. They are such a big company as well, and it is fantastic to be associated with them. I appreciate their support. I’ve only been with them for a year, but in that time, they’ve done so much for me, and they seem really interested in motorsport as well, which is fantastic.
“We had the Mini on their stand at Autosport International in 2019, and we’ve wrapped it this year, so the name appears across the side of the car, a great advertising space.
“A lot of what I do is advertising their products. We use their lubricants in our car, and they allow us to perform excellently and without fault. We do a lot of social media for them, as we do for all our sponsors, but Morris Lubricants have got so many fantastic products for all different types of vehicle. So, it’s good to be able to promote their brand.”
Morris Lubricants to are pleased with the work Lydia does for them, and happy to see her gaining more experience as she looks to progress through the motorsport ranks.
“Lydia has been a shining example to all young motorists who want to achieve. She works tirelessly not only on the track but as an ambassador for Morris Lubricants as well, which is why we are delighted to continue working with her,” says Andrew Simms, Marketing Executive.
“As a young lady that not only has her racing to think about but also her education as well it is great to see such dedication and focus when others might falter.”
This year Lydia is hoping to be challenging at the front in the Cooper Pro Championship, having achieved a 9th place overall in her debut year. “There’s a lot of new people this year joining the championship, so it’s difficult to judge how competitive we will be next to everyone else, but I think our last year has put us in great steed for this season. I want to be on the podium and right at the front,” she says.
The young racer also hopes to be an inspiration for others, especially women, who are looking for a career in motorsport. “There is not a lot of women in motorsport especially so perhaps if I can show that a woman can get to the top doing both the driving and other aspects then that would be great. It’s fantastic to see so many women starting to come through but it’s not enough, to be honest, and I think sometimes people don’t think they can get into motorsport, and don’t know how. So, if they can see someone doing it and doing it well then that would be great.”
Bathams Racing chooses Morris Lubricants to maintain its race bikes in 2019
After being formed in 2018, Bathams Racing is pleased to announce that they have gained Morris Lubricants as a 2019 team sponsor.
Bathams Racing is competing in the Pirelli National Superstock 1000 Championship with Taylor Mackenzie and Michael Rutter with BMW S1000RR’s; Rutter is also competing at the Northwest 200, Isle of Man TT races and Macau Grand Prix, not only with the team’s BMW but also with the iconic Honda RC213V.
Team manager and rider Michael Rutter commented: ”With such a busy racing schedule in 2019 planned, we will need a lot of engine oil for all three bikes as well as cleaning products to keep them all in perfect condition. Morris Lubricants not only have such a range of products to cover all our needs, but it is also all the highest quality, which matters a lot to us. We take a lot of pride with the preparation of all our race bikes, especially the Honda RC213V, and every product that we use to make the bikes the best they can be, has to be the best, and that includes what goes into the engine. Morris Lubricants was an easy choice for us to use.”
This partnership comes at a perfect time, with Morris Lubricants releasing its updated Motorcycle brand which they have named “Race”. The Morris Lubricants Race brand is the latest update to a comprehensive range of performance motorcycle lubricants which have been specially formulated for the exacting demands of motorcycles and scooters.
“Race” products can be used in a wide variety of performance motorcycles, tourers, cruisers and custom machines. Also suitable for highly tuned competition engines providing the latest technology with outstanding load-carrying and cleanliness performance, necessary for full power output. They’ve been tested under extreme competition conditions and further evolved in consultation with elite riders.
The partnership and rebrand follow on from the great success of Morris Lubricants ambassador Guy Martin, who is respected around the world for his performances on two wheels.
Guy commented “My view with regards to oil is: if it’s serious in motorsport, then it’s going to be a good product to use in the commercial industry, and I probably wouldn’t have taken Morris seriously unless I knew it was serious in the motorsports world.”
Lydia Walsmley warms up for the new challenge of her 2nd Mini Challenge Championsip Season
MLR ambassador Lydia Walsmley was out testing at Oulton park last week. She was putting her ner livered Morris Lubricants Mini through it's paces for its first test of the year. There are some great pictures of Lydia's first test on the Morris Lubricants Facebook page. So make sure to keep an eye out on all the latest race updates to come from Lydias action packed season.