Jetstream Motorsport’s Graham Davidson produced a stunning performance to win the GT3 class in the 24 Hours of Le Mans-supporting Aston Martin Racing Festival (14-16 June).
Nervous excitement is what Davidson felt prior to his first experience of the iconic 13.6km Circuit de la Sarthe in free practice on Thursday (14 June), but the nerves quickly dissipated and the Scottish Am completed the first of two 45-minute sessions in second overall, with a super-impressive sub four-minute time of 3m58.542s.
Clean, traffic free laps were at a premium in FP2, and again in the red flag-affected qualifying session, but Davidson still took his Jetstream Motorsport-prepared V12 Vantage to the top of the GT3 classification and fourth overall for the start of Saturday’s (16 June) 24 Hours of Le Mans-supporting race.
From the second row of the grid, Davidson passed a faster ex-Le Mans Aston Martin V8 Vantage GTE and was charging hard after Peter Dumbreck’s 7litre V12-powered Vulcan while holding onto a comfortable third place at the completion of lap one.
Frustratingly, an early Safety Car intervention bunched up the 38-car field, but quick strategic thinking and a tidy stop ensured the Scot emerged from the pit window in first position overall, with the hard-charging Ross Gunn in the new-for-2019 GT3-spec Vantage looking ominous in P2.
Davidson was powerless to defend against Gunn in the new Vantage GT3, which is yet to be homologated for its first full campaign in 2019 and was not eligible to be classified in the final Aston Martin Festival result, as well as the resurgent Vulcan, which had changed hands and was under the control of Top Gear presenter Chris Harris.
However, the Jetstream Motorsport driver was comfortably third fastest and held station until a dramatic last-lap tyre blowout caused him to tumble to fourth in the overall classification, where he remained the top GT3 runner in a star-studded entry that included former 24 Hours of Le Mans winner and Sky F1™ commentator Martin Brundle, multiple Olympic gold medallist Sir Chris Hoy and ‘Bake Off’ presenter Paul Hollywood.
” I’m naturally disappointed to lose out on an overall podium result on the final lap, but the disappointment is nothing compared to the delight I’m feeling to have taken the class victory at Le Mans,” said Davidson. “Everybody was telling me that Circuit de la Sarthe shocks and surprises you and that it’s nothing like you expect, and I quickly realised why it deserves its status as one of the world’s most iconic racetracks.
“It’s such a privilege to race in support of the 24 Hours of Le Mans and to win in the GT3 class is incredible! We had so much pace from the outset of free practice and to convert that into a victory at what is the world’s biggest sporting event is very special, and a great showcase for Jetstream Motorsport. I’m now 100 per cent sure that I want to race in the 24 Hours after this experience!”