Luke Davenport is eyeing up ‘top rookie’ status in the Michelin Ginetta GT4 Supercup this season after a pre-season that’s exceeded expectations for the 20 year old, though admits he’s fully aware of the huge challenge that awaits in the sportscar series.
Davenport steps up to the Supercup with GT powerhouses and BTCC newcomers United Autosports, who are making their first full-time assault on the category, and they’ve had a busy winter getting to grips with their new Ginetta G55 GT4.
The Cambridge-based racer makes the step-up following three years in the Ginetta GT5 Challenge, which culminated in a title challenge last season with Reflex Racing that ended with him finishing fourth overall with nine podium finishes, including one win.
The Checkered Flag sat down with Luke at the annual Ginetta Media Day at Silverstone last week (11th March) to talk Challenge experience, testing progress and Supercup ambitions.
SP: Thanks for talking to us. Firstly looking back, how would you assess your time in the Ginetta GT5 Challenge?
LD: “My main experience racing comes in a G40 and it was very good for me. The car moves around a lot, and because it’s a bit of a specialist car to get a good lap time out of, it makes your technique as a driver really clean.
“It became a young driver’s championship during my time in it. At the beginning we had experienced guys like Sean Huyton and Mike Robinson that we were chasing, they were a real good marker for us to catch up to. Then last year, there was about six of us up front that were really fighting for it, all young guys keen as anything.
“It was a great place to learn, the racing was close, and by the end of it, me, Reflex Racing and Rob [Bell – Driver Coach] all agreed I was ready to move up. The step up to the G55, because of how much more neutral the car is, the mistakes are almost harder to make and so far the transition has been good.”
SP: Yourself, David Pittard and Will Burns are all stepping up from the Challenge this year, is it going to be useful for you to have competitors you know there as a benchmark?
LD: “Will and I started at a similar time and we have always had good battles. I thought about him too much last season, constantly thinking ‘I should be quicker than him’, and that was detrimental for me.
“This year, I’m clearing all that out of my head. Will is a benchmark for me, I know that I’m doing well when I’m ahead of him. It’s the same with David, he’s a good experienced driver who will adapt to anything.
“I know they’re both going to be quick, but we are also looking up at guys at the front with experience in the Supercup, the Watson’s, the Massot’s, they’re the new benchmark that I want to be competing with. As a confidence boost though, I want to be the best Challenge boy too.”
SP: You’ve joined forces with United Autosports this season, you must be hugely excited by the opportunity?
LD: “I’m chuffed to bits. There’s always been that connection there from when I started with Henderson Insurance and Rob, and I’ve always been a bit of a pain in the arse really, trying to work for the team whenever I could. I worked with them at the Spa 24 Hours last year, when I had a drive with Reflex in a G50.
“Things like that were really helpful, because I already had a good relationship with the team before starting this project. I knew the number one mechanic, I knew the race engineer, and that helped me make the transition into competing with them, it was one less thing I had to adjust to.
“Joining them has done my confidence so much good, I’ve always looked up to them. Having Zak [Brown – UA chairman] and Richard [Dean – UA Managing Director] in the background, looking at me potentially for GT’s in the future, it’s a great opportunity for me.”
SP: You’re right in the middle of your testing programme at the moment ahead of the season, how’s it been going for you and the team?
LD: “It’s been going a lot better than I thought it would. We’re not over confident, but we think we’ll be an impressive rookie, that’s the aim. The team are telling me that I should believe that I’m a contender, maybe not straight away, but at the end of the season.
“The pace is there, the times have been good and we’ve been matching the big boys. The main thing from the team’s point of view is that I’ve been matching and beating Rob in places and that’s been so good for me.
“They see him as one of the best in the world, and for us to have similar amount of time in the G55 and for me to be there or thereabouts with him, makes them think that I’m serious and that they could make something out of me.”
SP: So finally, is that your main aims for the season then, to be the top rookie and challenge at the front as the season progresses?
LD: “I haven’t tried to think about it too much. I felt it was detrimental to me last year, thinking about targets and specific other drivers, so I’m just concentrating on what I’m doing in the car.
“Subconsciously, yeah, if someone asked me for my aim, I would say I want to be top rookie and I want to be battling for podiums and wins consistently from a certain point in the year.
“As I say though, we’re not over confident and are well aware of how difficult this series is. I’ve watched some serious drivers come through it and I’m fully expecting it to be an experience on a new level for me, a step-up in racecraft with no room for error.”