IMSA GT3 Cup - CJ Takes P2/P3 In Doubleheader At Road America
LOS ANGELES, Aug. 20, 2012: Going into IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge by Yokohama doubleheader at Road America last weekend, David Calvert-Jones found himself in a familiar position.
The 2012 series newcomer was at yet another racetrack that he had never previous raced on, facing a steep learning curve. But, just as the driver who goes by ‘CJ’ has done at all the other racetracks he’d never raced on prior to this year, he also found himself in a familiar position at the end of the weekend: on the podium.Driving the No. 12 Porsche in the Gold Cup category, CJ scored a second-place result in the first race of the Road Race Showcase doubleheader on Friday evening. He followed that performance with a third-place run in Race #2 on Saturday morning. The results were his fourth and fifth podium results in just eight GT3 Cup Challenge starts this season.
“I’m happy about getting two podiums for the weekend,” said CJ. “The car was flawless all weekend. Competition Motorsports and Bob Faieta continue to do such an outstanding job preparing my car every time out. I couldn’t ask for better preparation on their part.”
CJ had high hopes heading into Friday’s first race of the doubleheader, as he turned the fastest Gold Cup lap in Thursday’s practice session. He qualified second for the race, just a tenth of a second off the qualifying lap record time set by Angel Benitez Jr., who started from pole.
A multi-car incident on the opening lap led to a lengthy full-course caution period, and somewhere in that process, Scott Tucker got past CJ and into second place. When the race finally restarted, CJ did his best to pass Tucker on the racetrack, but a slower Platinum Cup car interrupted his progress and CJ crossed the finish line in third place.
After the race, however, IMSA officials gave Tucker a two-position penalty for passing under caution, promoting CJ to second in the final race rundown behind Benitez, who took the class victory. He also turned the third-fastest lap in the Gold Cup class in Race #1, giving him third on the starting grid for Race #2 on Saturday morning.
Saturday’s race saw Tucker take the lead from Benitez early in the 45-minute event and then a three-car battle among CJ, Tucker and Benitez for the first few laps. For the remainder of the race, CJ and Benitez battled for second as Tucker set sail for the victory.
“I had a pretty good race with Benitez and we even traded paint in a couple of corners,” CJ said. “We swapped positions a few times, but I just couldn’t quite close the gap enough to make a move on him toward the end, so I had to settle for third. It was still good to finish on the podium in both races.”
The double podium was the icing on the cake for CJ’s first visit to Road America. The Aussie experienced first hand why the four-mile, 14-turn Wisconsin road circuit is so widely acclaimed by race drivers, teams and fans the world over.
“It is probably the most awesome place I’ve ever driven a car,” said CJ. “I love that place. The track is amazing, the facilities are first class; it’s just an awesome racetrack. The spectator areas, the park-like atmosphere, it was a pleasant surprise.”
It had been a season of pleasant surprises for CJ. He scored at least one podium finish at Sebring, Mosport and Road America, despite the fact that he hadn’t previously driven at any of those circuits prior to the race weekend. Those podium results have undoubtedly also helped him in the race for the 2012 Gold Cup championship.
“I was fourth in the Gold Cup championship coming into the weekend and the two drivers immediately ahead of me, Melanie Snow, and my teammate, Fred Poordad, didn’t score any points,” CJ said. “They didn’t finish either race, and I got a second and a third, so that will help me move up in the standings. We’ll keep battling away. Benitez has got a big lead, but we’ll just survive and who knows what will happen. We’re just going to try to finish every race strongly.”