There was a disappointing start to the new British GT Championship season for Wisbech driver Jake Giddings at Brands Hatch yesterday (April 17).
The Aston Martin V8 Vantage GT4 racer finished in ninth place in his class during a shortened, red-flagged, opening race of the campaign.
Heading into the championship curtain-raiser with high hopes of pushing for a podium challenge, Giddings and his JWB Motorsport team-mate Kieran Griffin had to settle for less, largely as a result of beginning the weekend on the back-foot due to unfortunate problems in first practice.
With a split oil pipe wrecking the opening session, and seriously limiting Griffin’s track time, the duo had to battle from behind throughout qualifying and into the race itself which, ultimately, ended 20 minutes ahead of the scheduled two-hour mark following an incident on track.
Despite being somewhat disappointed with the eventual outcome, 21-year-old Giddings was pleased to at least chalk up some championship points on the opening weekend and is sure much more will be possible next time out at Rockingham – the scene of the duo’s maiden podium together last year.
“The pace of the car has been good this weekend, but the problem with the oil pipe in the first practice meant we lost that session and it really limited Kieran’s dry running”, he explained, “After that we had to play catch-up a bit, qualifying was okay but not where we needed to be and then the race itself ended up more like a practice session really.”
Scheduled to run over a duration of 120 minutes, round one of the British GT season was severely shortened due to the incident in the final half hour. Before that, though, the contest was also impacted by a lengthy ‘full course yellow’ cautionary period and so actual racing mileage was at a bit of a premium.
Griffin took the opening stint of the race, starting the contest from 12th position in GT4 as a result of his and Giddings’ combined qualifying efforts – the Hertfordshire businessman lapping 14th quickest in his ‘Am’ session while Giddings was fourth and the quickest of the Aston Martin drivers in the ‘Pro’ run.
Maintaining position over the first couple of laps, Griffin moved up into 11th place after dramas for some rivals and then climbed into ninth in class before the full course yellow period was triggered on lap 25 after a big incident at Pilgrim’s Drop.
With barrier repairs required, the cautionary period was lengthy and was still in place when the driver-change pit stop window opened. Giddings climbed aboard the No.47 Aston Martin and joined the track in 11th position in GT4 as the cars circulated at a reduced pace, before racing resumed with just under 45 minutes left on the clock.
Quickly climbing back up into ninth place, the former GT4 Champion closed up behind the rapid Maserati and sought a way past but the race was brought to an early conclusion with 22 minutes left on the clock.
“I didn’t have a lot of racing in my stint with the yellows and then the red flag”, added Giddings. “It’s been a bit frustrating as by the end of the weekend I think we were just about where we wanted to be with the pace, but it was too late by then. The main thing for the next round at Rockingham is for Kieran to get up to speed in the practice without any problems, then we’ll have a good chance.”
Round two of the British GT Championship season will take place on Sunday May 1 at Rockingham in Northamptonshire.
2016 British GT Championship GT4 Driver Standings (after Rd 1):
9th Jake Giddings & Kieran Griffin, 3pts
2016 British GT Championship GT4 Pro-Am Driver Standings (after Rd 1):
4th Jake Giddings & Kieran Griffin, 18pts
2016 British GT Championship GT4 Team Standings (after Rd 1):
9th JWB Motorsport, 3pts