Another Weekend, Another Double Podium in IMSA Porsche GT3 Cup for Calvert-Jones
'CJ' Takes a Third and a Second in Maiden Visit to VIR in No. 12 Porsche
LOS ANGELES (September 18, 2012) - David Calvert-Jones continues to rack up podium results in his first year of IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge by Yokohama competition as he took home another pair of trophies from last weekend's doubleheader at Virginia International Raceway.
Driving the No. 12 Norton by Symantec Porsche, 'CJ' earned a third-place result in the Gold Cup class in the first 45-minute race of the doubleheader weekend at VIR on Friday evening and went one spot better with a second-place run on Saturday morning.
They were the seventh and eighth top-three results in just 10 races this season and moved him into second in the Gold Cup championship standings with only next month's season-ending doubleheader at Road Atlanta remaining on the calendar. Angel Benitez Jr. - who has already clinched the 2012 Gold Cup championship - won both races at VIR.
"A third and a second are good, especially behind Angel, who is obviously a really good driver and holding off Scott Tucker, who was always pushing from behind," said CJ. "I was happy with it. It was just a crazy track and you have to get it right. If you make one little mistake, it blows your whole lap and makes it difficult from that point of view. All in all, I'm really happy with the weekend. I got more time in the car and I'm excited about going to Road Atlanta."
While a number of GT3 Cup Challenge competitors participated in an open test at VIR in June, CJ hadn't been to VIR prior to last week and therefore spent the early testing and practice sessions learning the racetrack. He proved to be a quick study, as he managed to put the Norton by Symantec Porsche third on the Gold Cup starting grid in qualifying for Race No. 1 on Friday. He maintained that position throughout the race, which ran without a full-course caution.
"I started third and there was a bit of Platinum traffic that was around us," described CJ. "A Platinum car slowed me down a little bit and Angel and [Henrique] Cisneros got a little bit of a gap. I just couldn't close that gap and I was worried about who was coming up from behind. I had Scott Tucker coming up pretty quickly behind me, so I was just trying to manage that gap just to protect third. Once those guys ahead were gone, there was no point trying to chase them down hard. I didn't want to wear out my tires and have nothing left at the end."
CJ posted the fourth quickest Gold Cup lap in the first race, which would have placed him fourth on the class grid for Saturday's Race No. 2. However, Cisneros elected not to run the second race after his second-place performance on Friday evening, giving CJ one valuable position on the starting grid.
"That put me on the inside, which was nice, coming to Turn 1 on the inside," CJ said. "I was on the outside in the first race and being on the inside made my life a little bit easier. I raced the second-place guy [Franck Silah], I was on his bumper for two or three laps, trying to get around him, but I was just being patient. I didn't want to do anything stupid and make a silly move.
"My patience was rewarded. He made a little mistake coming onto the main straight and it enabled me to get around him and get on and try to chase down Angel, but by then he'd already taken off. He had a good gap on us. It's not an easy track to pass on. If you're running within tenths of each other, you've got to do a really good job, or somebody has got to make a mistake to get around. It's one thing catching someone, but then to actually pass someone is a whole different story."
CJ closed out another successful race weekend with a runner-up result. He has finished at least one race on the podium in all but one of his five IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge doubleheader weekends, and all of those trophies came on racetracks he hadn't driven on prior to the week of the event.
"For a first season in these cars, I'm pretty pleased," said CJ. "Every time I go to a weekend, it's a new track. That has really taught me to prepare. I'm more comfortable in the car, so now I can concentrate on the track. Before, I was still getting used to driving a Porsche and at the speeds that they go."
Next up for CJ is the 2012 season finale for the IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge by Yokohama at Road Atlanta in Braselton, Ga. on October 17-20. The doubleheader is part of the festivities for the prestigious American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón Petit Le Mans.