Jetstream Motorsport took a breakthrough British GT Championship podium at Snetterton, Graham Davidson and Maxime Martin racing their Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3 to a second-place result in the Norfolk countryside (26-27 May).
Free practice went without a hitch and a time of 1m49.182s from Martin propelled Jetstream Motorsport up to second in the final moments of the first 60-minute session, which was punctuated by three red-flag stoppages and a few spots of rain.
Martin and teammate Davidson ended FP2 as the fifth fastest driver pairing, but the latter made good on Jetstream Motorsport’s free practice pace in GT3 Am qualifying, pushing eventual pole-man Mark Farmer from start-to-finish to ultimately qualify second with a slender 0.048s deficit.
From second on an all-Aston Martin front row, Davidson tucked in behind Farmer on the approach to Riches and stood his ground until the completion of lap one, when Barwell Motorsport’s Jon Minshaw slipped by as they crossed the start/finish line.
Thereafter, the gaps between the top three began to lengthen and, for a time, Davidson’s main concern was the fourth-placed Bentley Continental GT3 of Rick Parfitt Junior, who loomed large in his rear-view mirrors.
However, Davidson defended the final podium spot with all his might and unleashed an extra turn of speed after Minshaw made an unforced error and fell out of second position.
The Scot quickly reeled in the leading TF Sport Aston Martin of Farmer and executed a perfectly timed lunge under braking for the Wilson hairpin to snatch the initiative just prior to a protracted Safety Car intervention.
The neutralisation prompted Jetstream Motorsport to swap Davidson for Martin at the first available opportunity, but a minor delay – the result of a faulty battery – caused the team to lose first place to the #11 TF Sport V12 Vantage GT3, now in the hands of Nicki Thiim.
Martin did his utmost to bridge the gap to his fellow Aston Martin Racing works driver, but had his charge frustrated by uncooperative GT4 traffic and held station in a comfortable second place to secure Jetstream Motorsport’s maiden British GT podium finish in only its fourth outing in the championship.
“This result doesn’t come as a surprise to me, because Jetstream Motorsport has improved race-by-race, finding pace at Oulton Park, then again at Rockingham, and it was better here at Snetterton,” said Martin. “We had podium pace all weekend, in both races. Our performances need to be refined a little more, but that comes with time and experience and we have taken our rightful place on top!
“Looking ahead, Silverstone is a strong track for Aston Martin and we have to target big points there, but it’s a long race – a completely different format to today – and we will have to be 100 per cent focused on the job and not make any mistakes to achieve what we need to achieve to improve our position in the championship.”
The grid for Sunday’s second one-hour race – Round 5 – was set by the finishing order of the GT3 Pro segment of qualifying and, although Martin went third fastest, Jetstream Motorsport was classified 11th and last of the GT3 runners after receiving a penalty for failing to complete a minimum of two timed laps.
A tentative run through Turn 1 preceded a pair of ballsy opening-lap overtakes around the outside of Struan Moore’s Nissan GT-R and Ryan Ratcliffe’s Bentley, and then a stint-long battle with Yelmer Buurman’s Mercedes-Benz AMG GT3, which was engaged in a larger four-way fight for sixth.
Jetstream Motorsport gained more ground in the stops, despite serving a success penalty for finishing second in the day’s earlier race, and the Bruntingthorpe-based team emerged from the pit window on the tail of the fight for fifth and with the podium places only a short distance up the road.
Davidson made light work of passing Lee Mowle’s ERC Sport Mercedes and Sam de Haan’s Lamborghini, but contact with Minshaw’s Huracan resulted in a 30-second penalty that demoted Jetstream Motorsport to ninth in the final classification.
A pragmatic Davidson said: “Jetstream Motorsport has taken another big step forward, as we led a chunk of race one and made it onto the podium for the first time. There were some great passes by me and Maxime (Martin) in both races and the Aston Martin was brilliant. Unfortunately, we had a little issue with a flat battery in the pits and that meant TF Sport got the jump on us for the win, but Max drove a great race to get second and, while it isn’t quite a win, I’m very pleased with the result. Winning next time out at Silverstone will be a big ask, because it’s a three-hour race and a lot can go wrong, but I think we can make it happen.”
The British GT Championship’s blue riband race – the Silverstone 500 – takes place in two weeks’ time on 9-10 June.