The fight for the Intelligent Money British GT Championship GT3 title, always a highly competitive class, was made even more fascinating when TF Sport and overall drivers champion Graham Davidson announced that the 34-year-old Aberdeen businessman would be partnered for the 2020 season with GT4 title holder Tom Canning, also in his second year with the team.
The combination of the highly focused GT3 champion, armed with a full season of working with Jonny Adam, arguably the world’s best driver coach, teamed up with the 2019 Aston Martin Academy winner and super-quick Tom Canning makes for enticing inter-team competition with Adam and Ahmad Al Harthy in the sister #7 Aston Martin Vantage AMR GT3.
EnduranceandGT editor Andy Lloyd caught up with Graham Davidson at the Media Day for the 2020 Intelligent Money British GT Championship at Snetterton to discuss the change of driving partner and his thoughts on the new season.
Graham, you have a new teammate for 2020 in Tom Canning, embarking on his first season in the senior class. After the way that Jonny and you worked so closely together last year, how do you feel about the change of driving partner?
“So far it’s been really good. Tom’s a great young lad. He’s really hungry to impress everyone this year and take the next step after winning the Academy so it’s great to see him jump in the GT3 and get going. From the off he’s been really quick. He’s giving good feedback on the car, he understands it pretty well already and he’s faster than me! I can’t really fault it. I think it’s been the right decision.”
Given this is Tom’s first season in GT3s, how will the two of you work together to share your collective experience?
“Jonny is well-known for being the best GT3 coach around and he obviously taught me a lot about the car. He helped me understand how it works and a lot of things you would not normally learn from a pro. Tom, like me, is still learning but he understands the car well and the two of us, with the engineer and other people in the team around us, I think will help keep us on the right path and hopefully steer us to a car that has got a good competitive set-up.
“If the car is there, or thereabouts, we can fight with that because I think Tom has proven himself in GT4 and in the karting and things he’s done before. I’m really hungry to take the double on the bounce and make some GT history this year. We’ve just to take it one step at a time because it will be a tough season. The entry list is really impressive but all the more reason to have a good, successful year because it will be remembered.
“We’ve just got to keep our noses clean, work closely with the engineers and AMR and get a good car under us. The main thing is we’re both working with the same team (for a second season) so we hit the ground running. We know the people that we’re working with and we all get on well. There are no secrets in the garage. Of course, there’ll be a competitive atmosphere (between the two GT3 cars) but everyone’s pretty level-headed and sensible guys. We all help each other out with car problems and set-ups so it’s very much a team effort. Hopefully that will show at the end of the year in the team’s championship.”
2020 is your second season with TF Sport and the Aston Martin Vantage AMR GT3. That must to give you a lot of confidence going into this year, doesn’t it?
“Leading up to this week, I was very confident. Obviously now being here (at Snetterton) after nearly six months away from racing, being back in a racecar is quite daunting. All the pressure starts to mount again but this year it’s a slightly different pressure. It’s not ‘you’re driving with Jonny – you’re probably going to win’. Now it’s ‘you’re fighting against Jonny, but you’ve got the Number One on your car and you’ve got the Academy winner alongside you. What can you guys do together?’
“That people are interested to see what Tom and I can do is great. It’s nice to have the recognition from last year but I’m just trying to stay focused on doing the best driving I can and there’s no hiding that that will require the best driving I can do to win the championship again. It’s a strong field and slip ups can happen because, as the grids grow, it’s less and less about who wins the races and more about staying in the points. If the 19 GT3s entered in the class are going to come good, then there will be nine cars not scoring points and you need to make sure you’re not one of them.”
Will your pre-race preparation be like last year, with Tom and you working in the simulator?
“I’ve got to the point where I can’t leave anything to chance so I’ve bought a home simulator system, built by Charlie Eastwood. Tom’s also got a home sim. We’ve got Base Performance Simulators booked before every race and Tom and I will go there for coaching with Charlie and the AMR guys and fine tune what we’ve learned at home. Hopefully the result will be collecting points at every race.”
The 2020 Intelligent Money British GT Championship gets underway at Oulton Park over the Easter Weekend of April 11 – 13.