“Blancpain GT Is The Ultimate Goal!” Jetstream Motorsport’s Graham Davidson Talks British GT, Spa And Aston Martin With EnduranceandGT. (07.08.18)

Photo: BritishGT.com / Jakob Ebrey Photography

Graham Davidson, who, alongside teammate Maxime Martin, pilots the #47 Jetstream Motorsport Aston Martin V12 Vantage in the 2018 British GT Championship, took his first victory of the season at Spa-Francorchamps.

The 33-year old Aberdeen businessman first started racing in 2015 with no former experience in karts or single-seaters. As winner of the 2017 GT Cup Championship, Graham has set himself tough targets in his quest to become a leading amateur European GT driver. In an in-depth conversation with Endurance andGT.co.uk editor Andy Lloyd ahead of qualifying for Round Eight of the British GT Championship at Brands Hatch, Graham outlined his motorsport journey to date and discussed his thoughts for the future.

This conversation took place ahead of a horrifying incident during the two-hour race when an object pierced the windscreen of the #47 Aston Martin while Maxime Martin was at the wheel. Following comprehensive checks, both at the circuit and at hospital, the Aston Martin factory driver was declared uninjured, much to the relief of the series organisers, paddock and fans.

Firstly, many congratulations on your win at Spa. Did you anticipate, at that stage of the season, standing on the top step of the podium?

“It depends. If you asked the question at different points in the season, you’d have got a different answer. I think we went in to it optimistic because people have been very complimentary of my progress. I set a realistic target for the season of one win and a couple of times on the podium. Come May, at Rockingham, we were right at the front and should have won that race by a significant margin.”

“And then Snetterton again we went in confident and we put it on the front row at a circuit that I’m not strong at and made some great passes and overtakes but during the pit-stop the radio battery went flat and we couldn’t hear the controller. When he gave the order for Max to go, he couldn’t hear it so by the time everybody realised and started pointing and waving, we’d lost maybe three or four seconds. We finished second, though, which was fantastic. In race two we marched on through until I misjudged a braking point while watching the back of Jon’s car and just caught him enough to turn him so we didn’t come away with enough points from that. By Silverstone I was putting massive pressure on myself to really get this first win and show everyone I can do it. After a cautious start I had a coming-together with Mark and I came away with a penalty and a bent steering-arm. That ruined that race for us – again. I think by that point I was so deflated I started to question my own ability.”

“So we went to Le Mans for the Aston Martin Festival with no pressure – to just relax and enjoy it. Straight away we were doing sub-four-minute laps and doing really well. It was fun to drive that circuit and it was so enjoyable. The lap times were fantastic and just being there and being part of it was amazing.”

“I led a bit of the race then, sure as anything, the Vulcan of Chris Harris and Ross Gunn in the new GT3 car came out of nowhere and I didn’t even bother trying to defend. I tried to tag on to the back of them for a nice photo finish but I clipped a bollard at Tetre Rouge and had to do a lap on three tyres. I still managed to take the class win but, coming away from Le Mans, I felt a bit down. It was such a high that, with five weeks to Spa, I’d kind of buried my head in the sand and thought it’s not going to get better than that. So what do I do now? Do I do another season of British GT or where do I set my goals because it’s so unrealistic to think that I could end up at Le Mans.”

“I didn’t expect to be on the front row at Spa and I didn’t expect to win but it was a combination of a reasonably good lap from me and a great lap from Max that got us on the front row. My head was firmly screwed on at the start but, during the lap after the restart, I was blinded by cement dust and then I was all over the place. There was dirt in my eyes and I thought, “This is ridiculous.” I had a right word with myself as I crossed the start line on the next lap and then it all started to come together and my lap times dropped. I reeled in the Nissan and Ian Loggie really quickly and, just as I got to the back of them, Jordan Witt saved me the trouble and they came together and one spun, one went wide and I went up the middle. I thought that’s two done, two to go. I really got into it and started to push.”

“The next time round Flick was pointing in the wrong direction at Les Combes. All the while I have no radio contact – our radio’s failed so we’re going by pit boards. So I think I’m still in second place and there was a red Mercedes out in front somewhere and the guys are putting out the pit boards – 30, – 31 – 27 and I’m thinking: “Yes, I’m reeling him in!” When we get to the pit stop I jumped out the car and said; “Where are we? How far off is the Merc?” And everyone started laughing as Max fired off out of the pit lane. They said: “No, you’re leading! The Mercedes had a stop-and-go and you’ve been leading the race for 30 minutes!” I’m hunting a ghost that wasn’t there!”

“And then Max just did the job. He dealt with the safety cars and kept the gap to Ryan. It felt too easy. Standing on that podium, it didn’t feel deserved. I didn’t feel that I had a fight or challenged people. It was what people had been saying all year -just keep it clean and you’ll be all right. Do what Jon Minshaw does and keep it clean and you’ll collect points. So we did that and it paid off. Now we all know we can do it. The guys can do the pit stops, the fuel, tyres and I can do the driving. Max can do the driving. As probably the lowest budget team on the grid, we can these win these races. We’ve shown that, the pressure’s off and we’re going through these sessions relaxed.”

How has the driving partnership with Maxime Martin developed?

“It’s been quite interesting for both of us. Max has operated in teams for factories for a number of years now and is used to a system that is seamless and perfect. We’re the opposite of end of the scale and our team is growing and learning. Although I knew I had the pace, I think Max had to adjust to a low-budget team and the fact that he doesn’t know me from anyone. I had to prove to him that I could do it and earn his respect and it took a couple of weekends but at Rockingham I think he started to realise that we can win these races and we can be on the podium.”

“Between Max and Prodrive engineer Luigi, they have a huge amount of knowledge and feed me enough that we can put it on the front row and I can learn from that. And from my side as well, it’s the first year I’ve had an engineer and the first year of having a team mate, having driven on my own in the GT Cup and previous club racing. There has been a huge number of changes and it’s just been adjusting and learning as we go.”

“I think we’ve been very lucky to perform the way we have but it shows you can do it on a budget and that, to me, is very satisfying.”

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Photo: BritishGT.com / Jakob Ebrey Photography

What guided you to the choice of the Aston Martin V12 Vantage?

“Two things: firstly, the budget point of view. Aston Martin supports British GT so you have the trucks at the circuit with the spares packages. You have your own parts but you don’t have to carry the big bucks stuff. We’ve also got a lot of historical data and that was a big thing. If we were to do this next year with the V12, from a budget point of view we’d be in a great place because we’ve got lots of experience, lots of parts already and the tools. The mechanics know the car. It gives you a head start. It would be great to have a new car but you need all the spares and the learning process. It would be nice to have a year when we start on the front foot.”

“The other important factor was that my brother, who loves his Aston Martins, decided to buy this V12 GT3 race car. He didn’t know what he was getting himself in to so, when he realised, he said why didn’t I use it instead of swapping to a McLaren 650? I spoke to Aston Martin Racing and put together a plan. The car was great but it needed a fair bit of work to get it back up to spec. So it was a great way for us to do a season without huge investment.”

Will you be back competing in the British GT Championship in 2019?

“It’s probably the most likely outcome. I don’t think anyone would be surprised to see us back to do that again. I wouldn’t be either but almost every year I’ve taken a step on championship-wise whether I’ve done well or not so I keep learning. Now we’re at a place where we’ve achieved a huge amount – more than most would in that time. Max is delighted and he thinks that I seriously need to think about a European championship. There’s a few people who’ve said I wouldn’t be out of place in a Blancpain car, whether Am or Pro-Am, and that’s a great place to go and the ultimate goal, I guess..”

“I’m not done yet and I want to see how far I can get before I reach my talent limit and I’d like to think it’s in Europe. It’s just finding the best path there in a financially viable and sustainable way.”

The final round of the 2018 British GT Championship takes place at Donington on September 22 – 23.

Win For Optimum Motorsport’s Haigh And Adam – Balfe Motorsport’s Johnson And Robinson Take Victory In GT4 (05.08.18)

Photo: BritishGT.com / Jakob Ebrey Photography

The #75 Optimum Motorsport Aston Martin V12 Vantage of Flick Haigh and Jonny Adam took its second victory of the 2018 British GT Championship season after Jonny Adam passed the #69 Barwell Motorsport Lamborghini Huracán GT3, driven by Johnny Cocker in the car he shares with Sam De Haan, for the lead with five minutes to go.

Cocker went on to finish second behind Adam, just under five seconds behind, with the #11 TF Sport Aston Martin, with Nicky him at the wheel in the car he shares with Mark Farmer, completing the podium positions, 10.273 seconds back.

Victory in the GT4 category, earning them their first podium finish of the season, went to the #501 Balfe Motorsport McLaren 570S GT4 driven by Graham Johnson and Mike Robinson with the #42 Century Motorsport BMW M4 GT4 driven by Ben Tuck and Ben Green taking second place, and the win in the GT4 Silver category, after a highly entertaining battle over the closing laps of the two-hour race. The #53 UltraTek Racing Team RJN took the final podium position of the GT4 class with Martin Plowman crossing the line just .166 seconds behind the #42 entry.

Continue reading Win For Optimum Motorsport’s Haigh And Adam – Balfe Motorsport’s Johnson And Robinson Take Victory In GT4 (05.08.18)

Optimum Motorsport’s Haigh And Adam Take Third Pole Of The Season. Century Motorsport Lock Out GT4 Front Row (04.08.18)

Photo: BritishGT.com / Jakob Ebrey Photography.

Flick Haigh and Jonny Adam, piloting the #75 Optimum Motorsport Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3, took their third pole position of the 2018 British GT Championship season at Brands Hatch after Haigh lapped the 2.433-mile GP circuit in 1:27.347 and Adam topped the GT3 Pro time-sheets with a 1:25.182, the second quickest time in the 10-minute session.

Joining the #75 car on the front row of the grid will be the #99 Beechdean AMR Aston Martin of Andrew Howard and Darren Turner with an aggregate time of 2:52.960, less than half a second behind the poe-sitter.

Completing the top three in the GT3 category will be the #33 Barwell Motorsport Lamborghini Huracan GT3 of GT3 Drivers Championship leaders, Jon Minshaw and Phil Keen, who put in an aggregate time of 2:53.157.

The four ten-minute sessions were not without incident after the TF Sport #11 Aston Martin went into the gravel at Paddock Hill bend during the GT3 Am session, Mark Farmer having to be recovered, which led to s four-minute red flag.

TF Sport’s bad luck continued in the second GT3 session after Narco Sorensen, at the wheel of the sister #17 car lost a wheel. Both of the issues meant that the TF Sport entries will both start from the back of GT3 grid.

Flick Haigh and Jonny Adam were delighted with their qualifying performance.

“Yes, lovely,” said Jonny Adam. “The Championship is hotting up now It’s important round here to qualify well. The car has been progressively better as the day’s gone on but, yes, a solid job from Flick and myself to get it up there but it’s a long way until tomorrow. We got a ten-second stop penalty so we need to bag points and see what the outcome is tomorrow.”

“We’ve got a good team and a really fast teammate in Flick and it’s all gelled really well.,” continued Adam. “We’ve had our bad luck but we’re on a role now. We’ve really got the car hooked up now and we’ve done a lot of testing to get Flick to this level with the aim of winning the Championship.”

“We’ve had our bad luck as Jonny said but when we’ve needed to, we’ve got the points,” said Flick Haigh. “When we’ve had good days, we’ve had really good days so, fingers crossed, we’ll get some good points (tomorrow).”

Century Motorsport dominated GT4 qualifying with the Fenny Compton-based team locking out the class front row. Dean Macdonald and Jack Mitchell will start Sunday August 5’s two-hour race from class pole with an aggregate 3:06.45 with the sister #42 car starting alongside ater Ben Tuck and Ben Green lapped in an aggregate 3:06.067.

“Century has done an amazing job and hopefully tomorrow goes just as well,” said Jack Mitchell. “We’ve got a 20-second penalty tomorrow which will hold us back a bit but we know we’ve got good race pace and as long as we get a BMW on the top step of the podium, I’ll be happy.”

The lights go out for Round Eight of the 2018 British GT Championship at 13:40 local time on Sunday August 5.

 

 

TF Sport / Sorensen / Johnston Top Time Sheets In Shortened British GT FP2 (04.08.18)

 

Photo: British GT / Jakob Ebrey Photography

Marco Sorensen, at the wheel of the #17 TF Sport Aston Martin V12 Vantage he shares with Derek Johnston, headed the time sheets in a second free practice session which was curtailed by a heavy impact at Paddock Hill Bend by Matt Manderson , driving the #26 Ultimate Speed / Michael entry. The accident brought out a red flag and the session was announced as completed shortly after.

Sorensen set a 1:25.552 in the second half of the planned 60-minute session, knocking Darren Turner off the top after the Beechdean AMR had lapped in 1:26.104. The #99 entry finished the session second quickest.

Completing the top three in the GT3 class was the #7 Team Parker Racing Ltd Bentley Continental GT3 driven by Ian Loggie and Callum Macleod after Macleod lapped in 1:26.251.

In the GT4 category Century Motorsport locked out the top of the timing screens with the #43 BMW M4 GT4 piloted by Dean Mcdonald and Jack Mitchell lapping in 1.33.538, Mitchell setting the time and the sister #42 entry putting in a 1:33.691.

Probably the most impressive time of the session was the 1:34.502 set by Tom Canning in the #89 ProTechnika Mercedes-AMG GT4 who set a 1:34.502 to go second quickest in the GT4 Pro-Am category, less than half a second  behind Nick Jones and Scott Malvern in the #66 Team Parker Racing Ltd Mercedes.

There was drama in the Tolman Motorsport Ltd garages after the #56 David Pattison / Joe Osborne McLaren 570S GT4 failed to make it out into the session, the team not disclosing the issues that befell the car.

Qualifying gets underway at 16:00 local time on August 4 while the lights going out for the two-hour race, Round Eight of the 2018 British GT Championship, at 13:40 on Sunday August 5.

TF Sport Quickest In FP1 At Brands Hatch (04.08.18)

Photo: BritishGT.com / Jakob Ebrey Photography

Nikki Thiim, at the wheel of the #11 TF Sport Aston Martin V12 Vantage he shares with Mark Farmer, went quickest in the opening practice session for Round Eight of the 2018 British GT Championship at Brands Hatch , Thiim setting a 1:26.377 early in the 60-minute session. Second quickest was the #7 Team Parker Racing Bentley Continental GT3 driven by Ian Loggie and Callum Macleod which lapped the 2.433 mile Fawkham circuit in 1:26.883

Third quickest in early morning hot and dry conditions was the Flick Haigh / Jonny Adam-piloted #75 Optimum Motorsport Aston Martin in which 2017 Le Mans GTE Pro class-winner Adam set a 1:27.070.

GT3 Drivers Championship leaders Jon Minshaw and Phil Keen, driving the #33 Barwell Motorport Lamborghini Huracan GT3, finished the session fourth quickest overall with a 1:27.070 set by Phil Keen,

Quickest of the GT4 category was the #66 Team Parker Racing Ltd Mercedes-AMG GT4 driven by Nick Jones and Scott Malvern, current leaders of the GT4 Pro-Am Drivers standing, which lapped in 1:34.118.

Second quickest in the GT4 category, and heading the time-sheets in the GT4 Silver  category, was the #4 Tolman Motorsport Ltd McLaren 570S GT4 driven by Michael O’Brien and Charlie Fagg.

Third quickest, and second in the GT4 Pro-Am category, was the #50 HHC Motorsport Ginetta G55 GT4 driven by Mike Newbould and Will Burns.

The session was interrupted twice by red flags, lasting five minutes each, and both were due to off-track excursions by Will Moore in the #62 Academy Motorsport Aston Martin.

The second free practice session for the British GT grid gets underway at 11:40 local time with qualifying beginning at 16:40.

 

British GT Championship Visits Brands Hatch For Round Eight (02.08.18)

Photo: BritishGT.com

The British GT Championship makes it annual visit to Brands Hatch and the 3.908 kms GP circuit for Round Eight over the weekend of August 4 and 5.

There are a number of changes to the entry list which took the to the grid at Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps two weeks ago.

Team Abba Racing had intended to enter its #8 Mercedes-AMG GT3 to be driven by Richard Neary and Adam Christodoulou but, following a car fire at Spa which injured Christodoulou, the team has decided to withdraw from Brands. The team announced via social media that Adam Christodoulou ‘was making good progress and hopes to be back racing in the next two weeks’.

Missing from the GT3 grid will be the #24 RJN Motorsport Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3, previously driven by Jordan Witt and Struan Moore. Also missing is the #30 Ram Racing Mercedes, driven at Spa by Remon Vos and Ton Onslow-Cole.

Continue reading British GT Championship Visits Brands Hatch For Round Eight (02.08.18)