Jetstream Motorsport’s Graham Davidson and Maxime Martin possessed race-winning pace and fought their way into first position in only their second British GT Championship outing at Rockingham Motor Speedway (28-29 April).
Davidson battled from ninth on the grid to the top of the timing screens in a stunning drive that earned him the Blancpain Driver of the Day award, but the Aberdonian and Pro teammate Martin were ultimately classified fifth in Round 3 of the 2018 season after serving a penalty for a track limits infringement.
Both Davidson and Martin anticipated a positive weekend, especially as free practice commenced in damp conditions that were comparable to those experienced in British GT testing at Rockingham two weeks earlier.
The Jetstream Motorsport teammates had found the sweet spot and recorded competitive lap times with the #47 V12 Vantage GT3, and subsequently carried confidence into the race weekend, but their cautious optimism was tempered by a cautious approach to free practice on Saturday (28 April) morning.
Grip was low and oversteer excessive on the wet asphalt, but a time of 1m36.625s was ultimately good enough for sixth in FP1, which was curtailed slightly when Davidson span and brushed the wall at the entry to the Deene hairpin in the dying embers of the hour-long session.
There was no visible damage, but Jetstream Motorsport was sidelined for the duration of second practice while its mechanics went to work diagnosing and resolving a clutch-related issue in time for British GT qualifying on Saturday afternoon.
Predictably, the reduced mileage placed Jetstream Motorsport on the back foot for the rest of the afternoon; the team had been unable to test different tyre pressures and softer spring settings and subsequently struggled to generate sufficient tyre temperature to push for competitive times, therefore it ended qualifying underwhelmed in ninth in the combined GT3 classification.
In Sunday’s morning warm-up, Jetstream Motorsport tested a raft of overnight changes to its Aston Martin’s springs, tyre pressures and anti-roll bar settings.
Davidson and Martin enjoyed their first run on slick Pirellis and reported a vast improvement in grip and stability, but the team felt more “smoothing out” was required to make the #47 V12 Vantage effective over the two-hour race distance, with great success.
Rain threatened, but quickly dissipated and the race started on a dry track, to the delight of Jetstream Motorsport and its drivers.
Davidson kept his nose clean as the field arrived at the first braking zone, but his intentions were clear, as he matched the leaders for pace while picking off Ian Loggie in the eighth-placed Bentley Continental and Andrew Howard in the seventh-placed Beechdean AMR V12 Vantage prior to the first Safety Car intervention of the afternoon.
The 33-year old from Aberdeen was gifted fourth position when a wayward rival made an unforced error shortly after the restart, but then, in an expertly choreographed manoeuvre that lasted three corners, he danced past Devon Modell’s Nissan GT-R to pinch third spot and cement his status as the lead Aston Martin driver.
Conveniently, a second Safety Car intervention negated Davidson’s deficit to the race-leading Barwell Motorsport Lamborghini Huracans, putting him in a position to slip underneath Sam de Haan at Deene hairpin before going in pursuit of Jon Minshaw at the end of his stint.
A flawless, high-pressure pit stop and a 20-second success penalty for Barwell Motorsport ensured the Jetstream Motorsport Aston Martin headed the field by more than 12 seconds once all strategies had played out.
Unfortunately, two successive Safety Car interventions bunched up the field and left Martin vulnerable, but the Belgian ace did well to hold the initiative each time racing was resumed, until a drive-through penalty for an alleged track limits infringement demoted him from first to eighth.
In a staunch recovery drive, Martin dispatched Ryan Ratcliffe’s Bentley and homed in on fellow Aston Martin Racing factory driver Jonny Adam to take the chequered flag in a highly respectable sixth place.
However, sixth would become fifth when the #17 TF Sport entry was removed from second place and Davidson was the worthy recipient of the Blancpain Driver of the Day award for his stunning drive from ninth to second.
“Jetstream Motorsport has arrived,” said Davidson. “It was a rough start to the weekend here at Rockingham, but we turned it around. I had a cautious start to the race but progressed up the order so quickly that I lost track of where I was. Eventually I only had the two Barwell Motorsport Lamborghinis ahead. I got close to Jon Minshaw, but I didn’t want to make any risky moves because I knew they would be spending longer in the pits with their success penalty, so I held station in second place until the stops.
“Unfortunately, I got a couple of track limits warnings and Max (Martin) also got a few, and that resulted in a drive-through penalty, which dropped us down the order to eighth. However, I’m really pleased to have been chosen as the Blancpain Driver of the Day and it’s pleasing to see that Jetstream Motorsport has taken a huge step forward this weekend. It’s just a matter of time before we get the podiums and wins we’re targeting.”
Rounds 4 and 5 of the 2018 British GT Championship will be held on the Snetterton ‘300’ circuit on 26-27 May.