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Wins For Davidson, Birch & Witt At Silverstone

Recapping this weekend's three races

Race 1

GT Cup returnee Graham Davidson took a fantastic win in a very wet round 18 as the GT Cup took to the fast, sweeping turns of the Silverstone Grand Prix circuit. Graham, fielding the McLaren MP4 12C previously run to the 2014 championship by Jim Geddie, got a good start to take third place as he and GTO rival John Dhillon overtook GTC front runner Mike Wilds.

Davidson bided his time and made his move at the end of the Wellington straight on lap three to take the lead from Jordan Witt. Witt subsequently spun and rejoined but down the order. Meanwhile impressing on his debut in the championship was Aston Martin GT3 runner Peter Littler working his way up to third place in GTO from seventh on the grid.

“The start was great,” said Graham. “The front row cars ran wide and John [Dhillon] and I came alongside them through the complex. The first few laps were all a blur, it just happened so fast. Jordan tried to come back up the inside into Luffield at the end of the lap but I think he must have put the power down too quick because I just saw him spin out sideways, so I knew that I could then match the other guys and was confident. I tried to race my own race and ignore my mirrors because I knew the car could do it so I just had to keep my head and not make any mistakes. It will take a while to sink in.”

With John Dhillon taking second place in his Ferrari it was the Challenge specification Ferrari 458 of Mike Wilds that crossed the line third on the road but first in GTC for a superb win. Usually when it rains the cars to watch are the Porsche 997s and 991s. Piers Maserati maintained the German brands reputation taking fourth place behind Wilds and second in the GTC group, ahead of championship leader Paul Bailey.

“I was delighted to qualify on the front row,” said Mike. “I knew I was going to struggle initially with grip and power against the GT3 cars and I got assaulted at the first corner by two of them side by side. I tried to hang on to them but I really was struggling. It was very, very slippery, the Bentley went off and I sort of ended up in no man’s land really and just tried to go round and round trying to get a reasonable lap time for Anthony’s grid position in the next race. I’m very happy.”

GTB pole winner Jamie Dawson made an error into the first corner when a gear selection problem led to a spin. Nevertheless he was able to recover and have a good battle with second place Guy Riall in a similar specification Porsche 997. Out front however was Tom Webb in the BMW who put in a commanding performance to take another GTB win.

“I felt a bit sorry for Jamie [Dawson] who overcooked it on the start and ended up spinning which was a shame but we had a nice clear run,” said Tom. “It was quite fun having a scrap up front. What a difference the car has made from last year through. We were really struggling in the rain and were towards the back but we have changed tyre width and it has made such a difference. It has gone from not working at all to working really well and Natham at Pirelli has put in a lot of work to help us out so this one is for him.”

2015 champion Rob Gaffney overcame technical issues to take the GTA spoils in his Ginetta G55, finishing just under four seconds ahead of championship leader Esmee Hawkey in the Porsche Cayman Clubsport. Esmee running a steady race to collect points ahead of rival Dan O’Brien in the Optimum Motorsport run car.

Race 2

James Birch piloted the Cayman Clubsport GT4 he shares with Esmee Hawkey to its first group win of the year, allowing them to extend their championship lead over their nearest rivals. The car benefited from a new performance upgrade pack from Manthey, which seemed to suit the changeable conditions after the wet first race. Daniel O’Brien was second in the GTA group, finishing nearly ten seconds behind, with the BMW M3 of Jason Dixon in third.

“This is the first win for us. I’m super chuffed,” said James on the win. “It has been a long time coming. The car has been getting quicker and quicker. We knew we would be super quick in the wet and we’ve also come with the upgrade package from Porsche so it’s a great result for us. It extends our lead in the championship. The wet evens the playing field but I genuinely believe Esmee and I can beat the competition and today was the first real show of our pace.”

At the front meanwhile Graham Davidson proved that race one was no fluke as he claimed another victory in his McLaren. Jordan Witt finished only three seconds behind and provided a sustained challenge over the race but the Scotsman had the measure of him and used the traffic strategically to maintain the gap.

“During the first stages of the race I found the speed a bit sooner and built up a gap,” said Graham. “Later on Jordan started to catch then we got to traffic, I think I was lucky with timing and got through it quicker than he did because he dropped a second or two. He caught back up and got within a car length but I could tell his tyres weren’t doing the job as he was going deep and running wide do it was just a case of keeping my nerve. I’m absolutely delighted.”

Jordan held on to second, ahead of John Dhillon in the AF Corse Ferrari but, with Tom Webb also finishing second, the battle for the overall championship was a stalemate, with both scoring the same number of points. In GTB it was Nigel Armstrong who took the win in the Slidesports prepared Porsche 997 with Andrew Baker in third place.

“Tom was ahead of me on the grid by 3 hundredths of a second so we knew that we had to get a jump on him,” said Nigel. “We got him at the beginning then it was a case of trying to keep him behind us. He started to gain as my tyres started to disappear and luckily he came off or spun or did something because he disappeared from my mirrors just as my tyres were starting to go off. It was sort of like driving on glass in the last third of the race. I did well to hold on but he would have got me I’m sure.

Having started third on the grid, Anthony Wilds slipped back to fifth as the faster GTO cars came through on the drying track. The result nevertheless meant he claimed the GTC win, matching the achievement of his team mate and father Mike in race one. Finishing second was Tim Richards in the stunning, grey Lamborghini Huracan with Nick Staveley once again taking a podium trophy for third.

Race 3

Jordan Witt bounced back from his wet Saturday form to claim victory in round 20 of the GT Cup.

The Natwich-based driver was carrying 60 seconds of success penalty going into the race and faced the prospect of a 2 minute and 20 second pit stop. His nearest rival around the Silverstone GP circuit was Graham Davidson in the McLaren, who only had to serve a 17 second penalty lining up a very interesting race. Jordan surged into the lead from the rolling start to build a gap. With over thirty seconds in hand, the Bentley driver pitted with Davidson joining him in the pits soon after. When they were released, Witt rejoined just behind his Scottish rival and set about overhauling him. The manoeuvre came on lap 19 allowing Jordan reel of the remaining laps and take another GTO victory.

“It was a really enjoyable race,” said Jordan. “Graham was there but once I saw him leaving the pit lane in front of me that just gave me the green light to go for it really. I had him in front and knew what I had to do then it was a case of managing the gap and bringing it home.”

With GTC title leader Paul Bailey and Andy Schulz unable to participate in the race due to engine issues, it left the McLaren of Scott Thomas & Matt Bell and the Porsche of Andy Demetriou & Piers Maserati as the nearest rivals to Mike and Anthony Wilds. It was the Porsche that lined up just behind the yellow Ferrari on the grid and would give chase during the race. Matt Bell took over the charge in the McLaren 650S Sprint after the pit stops but there was very little that could stop the father and son pairing from taking a third victory of the weekend.

“It was a great race, said Anthony. “Off the line we gave space to the GT3 cars because we knew we couldn’t catch them in the dry. I’d already spoken to Piers and we knew we were going to have a close race, he pulled in behind me and we had a good race. It was lovely.”

“It seemed as though I was only in the car for two minutes,” added Mike. “Anthony did the bulk of it from the start and I don’t know why but I didn’t have a lot of confidence in the car on the opening laps. It was sliding around a lot and was quite slow. Then the car seemed to come to me. The radio wasn’t working very well so I wasn’t sure how the group battle was going, so I just drove as hard as I could and luckily we got three out of three and I’m absolutely delighted about it.”

In GTB James Webb was faced with a similar dilemma to Jordan Witt with 55 seconds of success penalty to serve and had fierce competition from the two Porsches of Nigel Armstrong & Jamie Dawson and Mike Sellar & Guy Riall. After the pit stops the number 22 Porsche would emerge in the lead with James hunting him down. The move came three laps from the end of the race when he snatched the lead from Dawson to secure a well earned victory.

“I had one of the Porsches and a BMW ahead of me at the start which I didn’t want as I wanted to build up a bit of a gap,” said James. “I managed to make a move within one or two laps fortunately and was able to eek out an advantage. After the pit stops we only had one car to overtake and I got him with a couple of laps to go so I timed it well.”

The happiest man on the podium however was Brent Millage, taking GTA victory ahead of the BMW of new entrants Dave Cooper & Jason Dixon and the Ginetta of Daniel O’Brien. Lap 17 would prove to be a turning point in the race for the group as Esmee Hawkey exited from third place at Copse corner whilst Millage would take the lead from Cooper later that lap. After that, Brent brought the car home for a thoroughly deserved second win of the year.