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Triple Win for Graham Davidson & His McLaren MP 4/12C GT3

Ex Geddie car wins again

Race 1

There were battles throughout the field for the opening round of the 2017 GT Cup Championship at Donington Park, a fantastic battle between John Saunders and Tom Webb being a particular highlight.

Pole-sitter Graham Davidson held on to the lead in his McLaren MP4/12 GT3 that Jim Geddie won the 2014 championship in, and kept his cool to take the victory by a commanding 33.893s, but it wasn’t straightforward for the Scot.

“The front tyres were struggling at the end,” he said. “The understeer wasn’t as bad as practice but I got into the 1m 05s lap times so I’m delighted with that. It’s a perfect day!.”

In Group GTB John Saunders narrowly prevailed over Tom Webb, with the Ginetta G50 crossing the line a mere 0.365s ahead of the BMW M3 E46 GTR, the two battling throughout the race.

“It was a great battle with Mr Webb,” said Saunders afterwards. “We were strong on the straights, he was strong under braking; it was awesome. That’s the way you want racing to be, you don’t want to be out there on your own. I got baulked by some backmarkers, and he shot past me, then he got baulked and I shot back past him!”

The battle for Group GTA was just as tight, with the Ginetta G55’s of Rob Gaffney and Dominic Paul running nose to tail, Gaffney eventually taking the victory 0.549s ahead.

“Doing this last minute it was a race where we thought we’d get through the first corner and see how it goes,” Gaffney said post-race. “It was a bit of an unexpected win, and a bit of an unexpected weekend. Dominic was quicker, I was kept honest for the whole race! It makes it worthwhile though.”

Jake Rattenbury in the Lamborghini Huracan Super Trofeo was victorious in Group GTC, enjoying a good fight with the Aston Martin GT3 of Nigel Hudson, but having to settle for third overall at the flag.

“It was really fun, the Aston caught me really quick and when he got close in traffic I just let him go,” Jake said. “I caught him at the end but not with enough time. It’s a good welcome to GT Cup, I’m really enjoying the racing. Everyone is really friendly, and it’s great to be back in the UK. I haven’t raced here for a long time, and hopefully I can do the rest of the season.”

Results

Group GTO
1st, Graham Davidson: McLaren MP4/12 GT3
2nd, Nigel Hudson: Aston Martin GT3
3rd, Kevin Riley / Gareth Downing: Lotus Evora GTE

Group GTC
1st, Jake Rattenbury: Lamborghini Huracan Super Trofeo
2nd, Chris Papageorgiou / Piers Masarati: Porsche 911 GT3 Cup
3rd, Bonamy Grimes: Ferrari 458 GTC

Group GTB
1st, John Saunders: Ginetta G50
2nd, Tom Webb: BMW M3 E46 GTR
3rd, Andrew / George Christopher: Ferrari 430 Challenge

Group GTA
1st, Rob Gaffney: Ginetta G50
2nd, Dominic Paul: Ginetta G50
3rd, Esmee Hawkey: Porsche Cayman GT4

Race 2

There was a whole raft of late action in the second GT Cup Championship Sprint Race at Donington Park on Saturday afternoon but Graham Davidson and Jake Rattenbury again emerged winners.

Race one winner Graham Davidson lead from pole in the Group GTO McLaren MP4/12 GT3 and built up a comfortable lead over Nigel Hudson, who was kept in close company by Jake Rattenbury and his Lamborghini Huracan Super Trofeo.

Approaching the midpoint of the 25 minute race Hudson in the Aston Martin GT3 managed to shake off Rattenbury as the pair passed lapped traffic, but trouble was about to hit Davidson up front.

“I caught a train of backmarkers and was passing round the outside. They ran wide and pushed me onto the gravel,” said Davidson after the race. “I bounced through and got back on as the Huracan came up behind me, so I managed to hold him off.”

Moments before this Rob Gaffney took the lead in Group GTA as leader Dominic Paul lost time, and there was further drama in Group GTB as Tom Webb, who’d built up a comfortable lead, slowed with a puncture, letting John Saunders assume the lead.

Gaffney’s lead in GTA was short-lived, as team-mate Gary Smith took the lead from third place in class. “There was a Porsche that spun at Roberts and cars were going left and right and I judged it right and came out in the lead!” Smith said.

There would be yet more drama at the front as well, as Davidson caught Hudson and the two went side-by-side into the Roberts Chicane, with the leading Aston Martin spinning out after contact with the McLaren.

“I started to chase the Aston and got alongside into Roberts,” Davidson said. “I was on the right, he was on the left, I couldn’t turn until the kerb and he turned across me and I spun him. It’s not the way I wanted to finish the race.”

Hudson would re-join in third behind Rattenbury, who had enjoyed his battle with the GTO cars. “We have a bit of pace,” he said, “we can keep up with them but they’re faster round the corners.”

The race ended two minutes early as Warren Gilbert spun his Mosler into the gravel at Roberts and couldn’t safely be recovered.

Davidson thus took his second victory of the day and GTO honours, with Rattenbury second overall and first in GTC, Saunders victorious in GTB and a delighted Smith in GTA.

“They said the three cars from Amigo Motorsport would be the Three Amigos!” said Smith. “It felt like that every corner. I tried to hang on to Rob up front for dear life.”

Results

Group GTO
1st, Graham Davidson: McLaren MP4/12 GT3
2nd, Nigel Hudson: Aston Martin GT3
3rd,

Group GTC
1st, Jake Rattenbury: Lamborghini Huracan Super Trofeo
2nd, Bonamy Grimes: Ferrari 458 GTC
3rd, Mark Brough: Ferrari 458 GTC

Group GTB
1st, John Saunders: Ginetta G50
2nd, Andrew / George Christopher: Ferrari 430 Challenge
3rd, Tom Webb: BMW M3 E46 GTR

Group GTA
1st, Gary Smith: Ginetta G55 GT4
2nd, Rob Gaffney: Ginetta G55 GT4
3rd, Brent Millage: Ginetta G55 GT4

Race 3

Graham Davidson made it a perfect weekend in the GT Cup Championship at Donington Park on Sunday afternoon, making it three wins from three with victory in the pit stop race, though his win wasn’t without last lap drama.

The Scot started well in his McLaren MP4/12 GT3, leading from Nigel Hudson in the Aston Martin GT3 and Jake Rattenbury in the Group GTC Lamborghini Huracan Super Trofeo. Rattenbury’s weekend stopped prematurely after just five minutes as he stopped at the Old Hairpin, suffering a rear puncture which lead to a safety car period.

Rob Gaffney battled his way into the lead of Group GTA in his Ginetta G55 GT4 but had to make a bold move as to pass Esmee Hawkey’s Porsche Cayman GT4 as the pair caught traffic. “She was battling with John Saunders, and made a move which didn’t work,” said Gaffney. “I used a lot of grass and a lot of hope and it worked!”

James Webb dominated Group GTB, despite a stop/go penalty for a pit stop infringement which dropped the BMW M3 E46 GTR from fourth overall, as his GTB rivals of John Saunders and Patrick Scharfegger were also given a stop/go. “The car was great from start to finish,” Webb said. “The Pirelli’s were still good towards the end, we didn’t have to push too hard because the other team got a stop go as well. It was unfortunate Tom got a puncture yesterday as we’d be in the lead, but as it is we have a little ground to make up.”

Group GTC went to Bonamy Grimes and Johnny Mowlem as the pair headed an FF Course lock out in the podium positions. “I lost out to Piers at the start but I was being cautious so made sure we kept out of trouble,” Grimes said. “I saw the Lamborghini spin off, thought ‘we might be in with a chance of a win here,’ so kept it clean, as fast as I could, and handed over to Johnny.”

“I just had to bring it home,” added Mowlem. “We have some quick drivers in FF Corse this weekend, and the team fixed the car up beautifully so it ran like clockwork. Charlie Hollings and Mark Brough did a good job behind me, I made sure I had Charlie covered and once I did I cruised home. Another win for Bon!”

Things looked comfortable up front for Group GTO and overall leader Graham Davidson, but it wasn’t a straightforward finish. “8 minutes from the end there was a rumbling noise from the back of the car,” he said. “The team told me I had a 20-second lead so I cruised for a couple of laps.

“On the last lap I lost all power on the way up to Coppice. I don’t know if the traction system got confused because the wheels were spinning, it was constantly working, and there were two or three seconds where I had no power. I turned the system off because it was all I’d been messing around with, stuck it in fifth and cruised back.”

Despite his three victories, Davidson isn’t getting ahead of himself: “I didn’t have any targets other than being top three in all three races. I said to the guys it would be nice if we got one win but it wasn’t a must.”

“We’ve set ourselves up well for the championship now,” he said. “I know other cars will come and I won’t be as good at other tracks because I’m really comfortable and happy here. It’s been a perfect weekend apart from my spin in practice this morning. I love Brands Hatch but I haven’t raced there as much but hopefully I’ll pick up the track as quickly as possible and stay with the others and give myself a chance at the end.”

Results:

Group GTO
1st, Graham Davidson: McLaren MP4/12 GT3
2nd, Nigel Hudson / Adam Wilcox: Aston Martin GT3
3rd, Kevin Riley / Gareth Downing: Lotus Evora GTE

Group GTC
1st, Bonamy Grimes / Johnny Mowlem: Ferrari 458 GTC
2nd, Mark Brough / Charlie Hollings: Ferrari 458 GTC
3rd, Graham Lucking / Leyton Clarke: Ferrari 458 GTC

Group GTB
1st, Tom / James Webb: BMW M3 E46 GTR
2nd, John Saunders / Patrick Scharfegger: Ginetta G50
3rd, Warren Gilbert / Trevor Knight: Marcos Mantis

Group GTA
1st, Rob Gaffney: Ginetta G55 GT4
2nd, Esmee Hawkey: Porsche Cayman GT4
3rd, Brent Millage: Ginetta G50