Jetstream Motorsport really bared its teeth in the opening round of the 2018 British GT Championship, as Graham Davidson and Maxime Martin raced to a maiden points finish at a sopping wet Oulton Park (31 March-2 April).
Inclement Easter Bank Holiday weather forced the cancellation of Round 2 on Monday afternoon, but Jetstream Motorsport survived a treacherous race one to add a well-earned point to its tally for a tenth-place finish.
Good Friday’s test (30 March) was a positive affair for the Bruntingthorpe-based team, as both Davidson and Martin were reportedly comfortable with their Aston Martin’s setup after only a handful of laps, despite red-flag stoppages and a speed sensor issue curtailing their programme.
Davidson was particularly satisfied after smashing his previous personal best lap time, but the Aberdonian felt the car’s balance could be improved further if conditions remained stable in Saturday’s practice sessions.
Frustratingly, a damp track meant grooved tyres were required during the first half of FP1 on Saturday (31 March) morning, but a drying line soon appeared, and Jetstream Motorsport went as high as third, thanks to a timely switch to slicks and a stellar lap from Martin.
The pace was significantly faster from the outset of the red flag-interrupted FP2 session and a late entry by Martin – 1m34.716s – assured Jetstream Motorsport of fifth in the final classification, while Davidson concluded free practice as the third fastest Am, despite having his best lap scuppered by double waved yellows.
However, qualifying on Saturday afternoon would be the first opportunity for Jetstream Motorsport to gauge its relative pace, with all teams running low fuel loads and fresh Pirelli rubber in the two-part session.
In GT3-Am, Davidson got in among the established gentleman drivers in sixth with what he described as “a less than perfect lap”, but the Scot was later demoted to 13th and last of the GT3 runners on the race one grid after having his times deleted for a pit lane speed infringement.
Martin, who had only completed a handful of dry-weather laps in free practice, then went ninth fastest in the hotly-contested GT3-Pro segment of qualifying.
The Belgian’s best time of 1m33.928s initially looked good enough for fifth, but the order shuffled incessantly, and he was ninth when the flag fell on what was an incredibly fast and closely-fought session, which set the grid for the second British GT encounter.
Raceday began with an Easter Bank Holiday snow flurry, but the wintry showers were quickly replaced by rain and the British GT field streamed out onto a saturated Oulton Park circuit for Monday’s (2 April) morning warm-up.
Davidson and Martin tentatively lapped the sodden racetrack, carefully negotiating the standing water and acclimating to the perilous conditions in readiness for the first race of the day, while others buried their cars in the barriers or straight-lined the chicanes.
The inclement weather prompted Race Control to start Round 1 behind the Safety Car, but the decision did nothing to limit the attrition, as there were collisions and spins aplenty when the field was released.
Davidson did well to keep his nose clean, thread his Aston Martin through the chaos and move up from 13th to 11th during the early laps, before keeping Shaun Balfe in the #101 McLaren 650S honest until mid-distance, when he and teammate Martin executed a swift and clean driver-change.
Quick pit work by Jetstream Motorsport and supreme racecraft from Martin ensured the white and orange V12 Vantage leapt from 11th to ninth and was in a position to engage Callum Macleod in the #7 Continental GT3 and the #101 McLaren, now in the hands of Rob Bell, in a three-way fight for P7.
Sadly, an innocuous trip across the grass caused Martin to lose ground; while no damage was sustained in the incident, the Belgian struggled to see through his mud-spattered windscreen and could only preserve tenth position to secure Jetstream Motorsport’s first point in British GT.
Jetstream Motorsport and its rivals were denied an opportunity to score more good points in Round 2 due to a marked deterioration in the weather.
All those at Oulton Park were given some respite from the rain between British GT races, but the wet weather returned with a vengeance in the minutes prior to the start of Round 2.
Red flags flew after four laps behind the Safety Car, but the rain intensified and officials were eventually forced to admit defeat and call time on the event.
“To finish tenth and score a point in Jetstream Motorsport’s first British GT race was good,” said Davidson. “It wasn’t the day I hoped for, but we have to take the positives. It was so wet and greasy, finishing the first race was an achievement in itself, yet we still moved up from 13th to tenth. Sunday’s pit stop practice really paid off for a quick, smooth driver-change, then Max (Martin) made up one place. Unfortunately, he then slid on a kerb, bounced across the grass and spattered mud on the windscreen, which meant he had to drive blind to the finish. One position was lost, but we still scored a point. We just have to build on that in the next round at Rockingham.”
The British GT Championship moves on to Rockingham Motor Speedway in Corby for Round 3 of the 2018 season on 26-29 April.