Aston Martin V8 Vantage GT4 driver Jake Giddings was head and shoulders above the opposition in terms of his scintillating qualifying and race pace at Silverstone Grand Prix Circuit over the weekend, during the latest instalment of the British GT Championship.
Mounting a remarkable series of performances throughout the event, the 21-year-old from Wisbech was rapid from the outset at the wheel of the No.47 JWB Motorsport car and delivered a highlight showing during his two stints in the blue riband three-hour race – not least a new lap record for GT4.
Giddings said afterwards: “It was good fun out there in the wet, I do tend to go well in those conditions and it’s been a while since I had a wet race.”
Team-mate Kieran Griffin took the start of Sunday’s contest, which began behind the Safety Car due to a very wet track surface, and when Jake took over the Aston Martin for his first stint he carved his way through supremely from 12th place in GT4 into second position.
Hopes of a podium challenge, though, were dashed by the onset of more rain during the final hour when Griffin was back in the car. Coming shortly after he had pitted for slick tyres, when the heavens opened the Aston returned to the pits for treaded Pirelli rubber once again but the rain ceased and the track started to dry out. Ultimately, the duo finished the race an unrepresentative 13th in GT4.
“Our strategy didn’t really pay off with the tyres when the rain came – we went on slicks but pitted to go back to wets when the Safety Car appeared”, explained Jake, “We should’ve kept Kieran on slicks, made sure he kept it steady and then we would have been in with a chance of a podium.
“It was good fun out there in the wet, I do tend to go well in those conditions and it’s been a while since I had a wet race. From 12th into second place in my stint wasn’t bad at all, it’s just a shame the strategy didn’t work out for us. Kieran has come on in leaps and bounds this weekend, his wet weather pace was good and he figured out a lot so it’s given us good confidence for Spa.”
Pre-event testing and practice went particularly well for the JWB drivers, the squad enjoying its best qualifying and race preparation of the year so far. Achieving the second fastest time in GT4 during testing on Friday, 10th June, they were third fastest in both free practice sessions on Saturday.
In qualifying, Griffin was 14th quickest in GT4 during the opening ‘Am’ session, producing a time of 2m17.968 seconds, while in the ‘Pro’ outing Jake set the quickest time of all with a sensational lap of 2m12.600 seconds. On combined times, though, the best efforts of both drivers resulted in 11th on the GT4 grid – 17th when including the visiting GT4 European Series cars.
Persistent rain during the build-up to Sunday afternoon’s race led officials to start the encounter behind the Safety Car and after a couple of laps, racing proper got underway. Several cars made early stops for driver changes but Griffin remained on track until the end of lap 26 when he pitted from sixth place in GT4.
Jake joined the race with 55 minutes having elapsed, holding 12th place in GT4, and when the Safety Car departed 10 minutes later he initially maintained position. Moving into 11th place a lap later, as the halfway point of the contest approached he had climbed into ninth position in class and looked for more as he lapped significantly quicker than the competition around him.
Working his way further and further up the order, the Wisbech driver reeled off some sensational laps as the track dried more and more and set a best time of 2m26.669 seconds with little over an hour to run – a match for a number of GT3 cars at that stage.
Having sliced his way through into the top four in GT4, Jake then took third and, soon after, second when the class leading Maserati pitted. At the end of the Aston Martin’s 40th lap, running within just 6.5 seconds of the new GT4 leader, Jake pitted from second place after a sensational stint.
Griffin got back behind the wheel and departed the pits with around 55 minutes to go, on slick tyres, just before the Safety Car was re-deployed due to an incident on the track. Moments later, more rain added another variable so he pitted again straight away for wet-weather rubber but the rain was short-lived and the tyre choice didn’t work out.
The final stop came with around half an hour to go, Griffin handing the car back to Jake from 14th position in class. Immediately pushing hard on the slick tyres, Jake set the Aston’s best lap of the race on only his first flying lap back on track with a time of 2m16.733 seconds – easily the fastest time of any of the GT4 entries or visiting GT4 European Series cars.
Finding another 1.2 seconds on the next lap, Jake posted an even quicker time of 2m15.527 seconds and he continued to deliver pace head and shoulders above anything his rivals could manage before eventually ending the contest with a best time of 2m15.206 seconds (97.46mph) – a new GT4 lap record earning the Sunoco Fastest Lap of the Weekend award. He took the flag 13th in GT4.
Next on the British GT Championship calendar is the annual visit to Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium for round six of the season – the event taking place on Friday, 8th July, and Saturday, 9th July.
2016 British GT Championship GT4 Driver Standings (after Rd5):
16th Jake Giddings & Kieran Griffin, 12pts
2016 British GT Championship GT4 Pro-Am Driver Standings (after Rd5):
6th Jake Giddings & Kieran Griffin, 46.5pts
2016 British GT Championship GT4 Team Standings (after Rd5):
12th JWB Motorsport, 12pts