JAMIE DAVIES INTERVIEW
Schoolboy kart racers Jamie Davies, Ralph Finnan, Guy Smith and Richard Westbrook won’t have had many spectators looking on as they did battle at the turn of the decade. However, that will not be the case on British Grand Prix morning at Silverstone this year, as all four will be amongst the front runners in the Formula Opel Euroseries race.
While Westbrook has been regularly contesting the European championship this season, his compatriots have been racing at home. And it’s Davies who is leading the British Formula Vauxhall Championship at the mid-season point.
Aged 20 and hailing from Yeovil, Davies is spearheading Martin Donnelly Racing’s 1994 attack: “It’s all gone quite well so far this season,” he reflects. “Winning the Vauxhall championship is what I’m looking for at the moment, but I’ll also be looking to win the Grand Prix race it’d be really nice in front of the home crowd.”
It’s all a long way from Davies’s beginnings, which came when father Ron Davies a leading club rally exponent in the mid 1980s with a Mk2 Escort BDA decided that he couldn’t afford to remain competitive against the then new Metro 6R4. From then on, the family cash was ploughed into young Jamie’s karting career.
“My father runs Turnspeed Engineering, and we make all the Goodricige hoses on racing cars from Formula Ford to Formula One. We’ve made bits of Williams, McLaren and Ferrari. All the top teams it all goes on their cars.”
Working with his father during the week rather than living in his racing car doesn’t seem to have been too much of a handicap for Jamie, whose karting career included many successes on the South Western scene, as well as victory in the 1989 British junior and 1990 British Open Junior Championships.
Unlike his contemporaries, Davies’s car racing debut came in a Clubmans Class B Matlock at Donington! “It was the first time I’d ever sat in a single-seater at all and I qualified it on grid two. I was catching the leader slightly but I spun twice and wiped the nosecone off I think 1 managed sixth or seventh.
“The next race was on the Silverstone GP circuit. We were second in wet qualifying and won the race from start to finish.”
An impressed Terry Nightingale, the owner of that Mallock, gave Davies a full season in the 1992 Formula Vauxhall Junior Championship. After two wins, he moved into Formula Vauxhall Lotus for 1993 with John Village Automotive, before switching to the Donnelly outfit last winter.
“I tested with them before last year when 1 was deciding what team to go with. The following year Jonathan Lewis (the former Team JLR supremo) was moving into the team; I’d known him for quite a long time and 1 thought ‘Well, let’s go for it.’ It’s seemed to pay off so far…”
Jamie notes his engineer Gavin Jones, mechanic on Piers Hunnisett’s 1992 Vauxhall Lotus title-winning car, as one of his greatest assets. A very smooth driving style doesn’t harm much either, and will prove a benefit on his hoped for graduation to Formula Three next year. “I feel that driving a Vauxhall is about driving the car smooth. I could drive rough if I wanted to, but it’s just that I’m purely concentrating on getting the car through the corners and getting good
exits. I think that is the right nature to drive an F3 car too. It’s about carrying the speed you’ve got through the corner no sideways, none of that sort of style. In an F3 car you lose all your downforce and in a Vauxhall it just kills your tyres.
“I haven’t heard any stories about what Martin IDonnellyrs plans are for next year. If he is planning on going to F3 and he’s got good engines and a good car 1 can’t see any problems in moving on with him, but that’s down to Martin!”
But that’s jumping the gun. What about the Opel Euroseries race at the Grand Prix? Can Jamie beat the European regulars? “Yes, I think so. From what I’ve seen this year I think the British have got the edge. I’m looking forward to it and I’m hoping for a victory, but I’m sure a top three finish is on, definitely.” MARCUS SIMMONS
Jamie Davies (right) is giving Martin DoneIly the results that he achieved himself as an up-and-coming young hotshoe.