Waberski’s third place in the final race of last weekend’s Donington Park round completed a solid weekend’s work for KMR’s duo, with teammate Tom Mills recording three top-six finishes.
The team arrived in the East Midlands hoping to have rectified the technical difficulties that disrupted the Silverstone event, with Mills driving a new chassis. However, traces of the issue remained, with both contenders grappling with a lack of straight-line speed.
Mills qualified the higher of the pair during a tight session, just four tenths of a second away from pole in sixth place, while Waberski was eighth and three tenths further back.
Both drivers made strong starts to the opening race, gaining a position each on the opening lap. Mills continued that progress on lap two as he passed Hillspeed’s Megan Gilkes for fourth, but then had to absorb pressure from behind for the remainder of the 18-minute contest, with three drivers finishing in his slipstream but unable to force their way past the determined 17-year-old Mills.
Waberski meanwhile dropped back down to eighth on lap five after being passed by Jack Sherwood, holding that position until the end and showing improved pace at the conclusion of the race to catch up with the drivers ahead.
The grid for the second contest was decided by each driver’s second-fastest times from qualifying, which put Mills an improved fourth on the grid and Waberski ninth.
Mills made another strong start, rising to third on the first lap and challenging Gilkes for second place. However, the youngster was passed by Sherwood on the second lap, and shuffled down to sixth afterwards, a position behind team-mate Waberski, who had made a tremendous start to climb to fifth. The pair would retain those positions until the chequered flag, finishing within touching distance of Hillspeed’s Max Marzorati.
The final race of the weekend was the complete reversed-grid affair, for which Waberski would line-up in sixth and Mills eighth. Yet again, a rocket start from Mills put him firmly in contention as he gained five positions in one lap to run third, while Waberski climbed a position to fifth. The South African driver was on a charge though and would end the second lap in second place. His rise began with a pass on Jessica Edgar at Redgate, and then went around the outside of Mills at McLeans before ending the lap with a move on Chloe Grant. While that was going on, Mills was shuffled down another place by Sherwood.
At this stage, Waberski looked a favourite for the win as he halved the gap to race leader Logan Hannah in just two laps, but Sherwood behind had other ideas and engaged in battle, ensuring Waberski had to go on the defensive for a handful of laps while Hannah escaped up the road. Waberski’s resistance lasted until the eighth tour when Sherwood found a way past, but the South African made sure he at least banked third place, and the team’s best result of the weekend, by holding off a further attack from Marzorati.
Mills ended his weekend with fifth place, a few seconds further back but well ahead of championship leader Nikolas Taylor.
The results mean that Waberski sits fourth in the championship points, with Mills fifth – although both are well within striking distance of leader Taylor. Kevin Mills Racing is fourth in the Teams’ points.
There’s now a four-week gap until the next event of the season on 25-26 June, back where it all began at Snetterton, as the championship starts its second half of the season.
Speaking after his podium, Waberski said: “It was nice to get a podium to end the weekend. We were quick in testing but once the rubber was laid down we started struggling with the balance on the car. It got a bit better over the weekend but there’s still a lot we need to improve.
“We’re struggling with straight-line speed so I think we need to have a look at some other cars and look at us because it’s quite bad in some situations. But it is what it is and it’s nice to end the weekend on the podium. I can’t thank the team enough for the work they’ve done on the weekend to try and get us up there.”
Tom Mills said: “It was a better weekend than Silverstone, but then there are less straights here than at Silverstone! We’ve made a load of changes with the car, and I’m in a different chassis, but there are still traces of the same straight-line speed issue for both Jarrod and I.
“We’ve definitely made some improvements though and are back in the pack. We held off Alex [Walker] in two of the races, which was good, but I made a few errors, especially in the last race and that cost me a little bit. We’re improving, but there’s still a little bit of an issue.
“We’ve got a test at Silverstone before the next round, so that will be good to try and go through anything else. GB4 are working with us to try and find out what the problem is still. It’s less than what it has been, so I guess we are on the right track forward and I’m improving with my driving all the time and trying to make myself suit the car better. There’s some hard work ahead for us, and the Silverstone test will be really useful.”
Team Principal Kevin Mills said: “A lot of work went on after Silverstone to rebuild Tom’s car around a new tub to rectify the issues there, while also sorting out the damage on Jarrod’s. While that work has resulted in some improvements, we’re still not quite where we want to be. Jarrod’s podium shows we’re doing everything right as a team and he drove superbly, as did Tom.
“The upcoming test at Silverstone will be important for us as we can compare data to the races there a few weeks ago to see where we have gained. We’ll continue to work hard to get to the root of the issues so we can be back at the front at Snetterton.”