David Calvert-Jones Takes One Third and One Second in Gold Cup Class
David Calvert-Jones got his maiden IMSA GT3 Challenge by Yokohama season off to a fantastic start last week at Sebring International Raceway with a pair of Gold Cup class podium results in his Competition Motorsports-prepared No. 12 PC Tools Porsche.
CJ qualified fourth on the class grid for both races of the Sebring doubleheader. The Australian quickly found his way into a podium spot in Thursday’s opening round when defending Sebring Gold Cup race winner Scott Tucker spun early, promoting CJ to third. Tucker recovered from the spin, however, and eventually managed to catch up and pass CJ, dropping him back to fourth in the running order with slightly more than five minutes remaining in the 45-minute race.
Undeterred, CJ continued to push and found his way to the rear bumper of Peter Collins – who had been demoted from second to third by Tucker a few laps earlier – as the white flag flew, signifying the race’s final lap. CJ swung to the outside heading into Turn 1 and made his way around Collins and back onto the podium with a third-place result for his maiden run in the series.
“It was an interesting race,” said CJ after Race 1. “I started in fourth place and I just kept pushing. I was doing some quicker times than I actually did in qualifying and using all the tire, so I started feeling the track more as the track was coming to me. Then Scott Tucker spun, which gave me the opportunity to get up to third and I worked hard to try to stay in third place. Unfortunately, Tucker caught back up to me and he passed me. He was just flying, but in doing that, we ended up catching Collins and I passed him on the outside of Turn 1. I just pushed hard and stuck it to him.”
Friday’s second half of the doubleheader would go even better for CJ. After starting fourth, CJ moved into third when Tucker was involved in an incident and then got all the way to second place in the melee before the season’s first full-course caution flag came out.
When the lengthy clean up was complete and the green flag flew again, CJ settled into a solid pace, keeping the third- and fourth-place cars comfortably in his mirrors. At the same time, he began clicking off his fastest laps of the week at Sebring and found himself catching up to class leader Angel Benitez Jr. – who had won the previous day’s opening round – as the laps wound down. CJ recorded his fastest lap of the week at Sebring on his final lap of the race, a 2:11.895, and took the checkered flag in second, 1.5 seconds behind Benitez.
“The last couple of laps were kind of bizarre,” said CJ. “I said, ‘I think that’s the first-place guy.’ I radioed in and asked who the leader is and they said, ‘It’s number five.’ I was like, ‘Oh, he’s just right there. I thought he was way down the track.’ He was right ahead of me so it gave me some incentive to push a bit harder to try to catch him. I really closed the gap down on the final lap and finished right behind him. I just needed one more lap, but that’s the same old story, with one more lap I could have done this or I could have done that.”
Having never driven at the bumpy and challenging Sebring International Raceway prior to this week, CJ was extremely pleased to take home a pair of trophies. In fact, it’s hard for him to imagine a better start to his IMSA GT3 Challenge career.
“I’ve really got to thank my guys with Competition Motorsports for giving me a fantastic car all week,” said CJ. “I’ve also got to thank PC Tools, Blundstone, Doddle and everybody for making this all possible for me. This is a very tough racetrack and I wasn’t sure how well things would go for me after my first couple of practice sessions early on. Thankfully, things went just about as good as they could and I’m looking forward to the next one!”
Next up for CJ will be the IMSA GT3 Challenge by Yokohama doubleheader at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. The pair of races will once again run in conjunction with the American Le Mans Series event weekend on May 10-12.
About David Calvert-Jones/CJ Racing
David Calvert-Jones, or “CJ” for short, moved to Los Angeles from Australia eight years ago to chase his dream of becoming a helicopter movie pilot after a successful career in private equity. CJ made his dream a reality with credits including “Transformers,” ““Secretariat,” “Domino,” “Horrible Bosses,” and “We Are Marshall” among many others, as well as providing helicopter footage to NBC Sports for its coverage of the Baja 1000 and Baja 500 and a number of television commercials. CJ is the owner and president of Helifilms, an aerial production company with offices in the United States, Australia, England and South Africa.