Hopes of a successful return to home soil at Snetterton for Jake Giddings during the penultimate event of the British GT Championship season over the weekend, 6th/7th August, took a knock when unexplained handling issues impacted the points-scoring potential of his Aston Martin V8 Vantage.
Heading into the final double-header event of the 2016 campaign with boosted confidence after a strong test outing at the track a few days earlier, the handling of the car completely changed for the race weekend – resulting in Wisbech racer Jake and team-mate Kieran Griffin having to settle for a best result of ninth place in GT4 during round eight on Sunday afternoon.
Encountering problems in testing and qualifying, with the car ‘crabbing’ under braking, the JWB Motorsport duo had plenty of work to do in the races and although an unfortunate stop-go penalty in round seven demoted the pairing to 15th place, in round eight a stronger performance delivered some much needed points.
Taking the opening stint of race two, Jake made a good start from 16th on the GT4 grid and picked up two places on the first lap. Running tight in the wheeltracks of the Porsche Cayman of Scott Malvern, with every lap Jake tried to unseat Malvern for the place but the latter’s defence was stout.
Trying every which way to find a suitable gap, Jake was clearly the quicker of the two over the course of the lap but had to frustratingly sit behind the Porsche with no way past. Moving into the top 12 as a result of a rival hitting problems, the 21-year-old remained on track when the pit window opened and eventually pitted to hand the car over to Griffin from fifth place with around 25 minutes to go.
Venturing out onto track holding eighth in GT4, Griffin remained there for the next quarter of an hour but with 10 minutes left he was edged back to ninth position. Although slipping to 10th a couple of laps later, an issue for a rival enabled Griffin to re-assume ninth which he held to the flag.
“We’ll take ninth, it’s OK in the grand scheme of things this weekend!”, reflected Jake, “The car was a lot better in race two, we did something totally radical with the tyre choice – we started the car on cold, new tyres rather than having them in the heat tent beforehand and it seemed to work for most of the race.
“The problem I had was that Porsche, if I’d got past him I think I could’ve passed the Ginettas and we might have got close to the top six. Three car lengths off a corner, the Porsche just pulled away but then I’d get it back by the time we were into the braking zones. It was pretty frustrating as the car wasn’t too bad until the tyres started to get a bit hot later in the stint.”
In the earlier seventh round, Griffin started from 13th in GT4 and he held position over the first few laps – until an unfortunate moment on the fourth tour lost around 14 seconds and he slipped to 16th place. Instantly producing personal best lap times as he tried to recover some of the lost ground, Griffin served the driver change stop early in the pit-window and Jake took over the car.
Joining the race in an improved 13th position, Jake did his best to close down the significant time gap of 16 seconds to the cars ahead and set a best lap time of 2m00.164 seconds, a match for top four performance, as he edged closer to the top 12.
During the final quarter of an hour, though, the JWB squad was ordered to serve a stop-go penalty after officials declared the driver change pit-stop didn’t meet the minimum stationary time limit. Pitting at the end of the Aston’s 24th lap, Jake rejoined in 15th spot where he remained to the finish.
“We’re all at a bit of a loss as to what went wrong this weekend”, said the Irish TV, Finesse Paving and Civil Engineering, Cowley Road Garage and Toppesfield supported driver, “Everything went well on Tuesday when we tested and nothing changed for the weekend, the weather was about the same and we all felt pretty confident.
“For some reason, over the last couple of days, it’s been like driving a different car altogether so we need to find out why. Hopefully Donington can be better and we can end the year with a really good performance, we’ll have to see how it goes.”
Donington Park Grand Prix Circuit in Leicestershire will be the venue for the final race of the British GT Championship season over the weekend 10th/11th September.
2016 British GT Championship GT4 Driver Standings (after Rd8):
17th Jake Giddings & Kieran Griffin, 14pts
2016 British GT Championship GT4 Pro-Am Driver Standings (after Rd8):
7th Jake Giddings & Kieran Griffin, 63.5pts
2016 British GT Championship GT4 Team Standings (after Rd8):
12th JWB Motorsport, 14pts