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Bitter sweet for Century Motorsport at Brands Hatch

Century Motorsport returned to the British GT Championship at Brands Hatch last weekend after a lengthy summer break since the last round at Snetterton some eight weeks ago. Having suffered a difficult weekend at the Norwich circuit after contact with a GT3 car resulted in them loosing out on a chance to win the GT4 class. The early season dominant pairing of Zoe Wenham and Declan Jones were keen to reignite their championship challenge at Brands Hatch.

Saturday morning’s Free Practice one, showed signs that this weekend was certainly not going to be easy for their rivals as Zoe had an impressive opening stint to the session setting the third fastest time. Almost halfway during the one hour session, HERO Energy Athlete Declan Jones took over the reigns of the Ginetta G50 and almost instantly set the fastest time in GT4 some four tenths clear of their nearest rivals Ryan Ratcliffe and Rick Parfitt Jnr. Saturday afternoon’s second one hour free practice session was almost identical apart from the fact that both drivers went even faster again, with Jones taking a further half second off his fastest time from the morning’s session.

Having shown impressive form in both free practice sessions, both Jones & Wenham were highly confident of a strong showing in qualifying, with pole position very much the aim. Declan Jones started the session but a rare mistake from the Liverpudlian compromised what would have easily been a pole position lap. Despite this, Declan’s time put the pair third fastest as he pulled into the pits to hand over to Laird Assessors supported Zoe Wenham. Keen to further improve on her free practice performance and move the pair closer to the head of the field, Zoe got her head down and went about trying to improve on Declan’s time. However the Brands Hatch GP circuit is well known for its high speed characteristics and the commitment required for that optimum lap time is one of the toughest on the calendar. As the chequered flag fell Zoe was unable to improve on Declan’s time and the pair lined up third on the grid for Sunday’s two hour thriller.

Just before Sunday’s race got underway, 60 seconds of revving engines was held in memory of the Great Dane, Allan Simonsen. Zoe Wenham started the race for Century Motorsport and despite briefly slipping back to fourth was running well in third for the opening part of the race. However her consistent work was undone with a trip into the gravel at Clearways on lap 13. Luckily Zoe was able to get the car out and into the pits where the Century Motorsport crew quickly got the car cleaned and checked over before she could return to the track. Now running fifth in GT4, Wenham set about putting in some solid laps to ensure the car was in a strong position to move up the order just before she handed over to Declan Jones at the first driver change window. Jones exited the pits and set about working away at the lost laps from the earlier incident. Unfortunately mechanical gremlins would blight his progress which eventually caused him to pit as a damaged diff caused a small fire within the car. Once again the Century Motorsport crew were tested to their full extent and worked their magic to enable the car to exit the pits and drive home across the finish line to take some important points rather than a non-finish.

Speaking after the race, Century Motorsport Team Principal Nathan Freke expressed his disappointment at the result, “this certainly wasn’t the result we wanted or deserved this weekend. We were fastest in almost every session including the race despite the issues we had. Both Declan and Zoe did a great job but it just wasn’t our weekend. However I must compliment our crew this weekend who worked hard during the race to clean up the car after Zoe’s visit to the gravel and then Declan’s fire at the diff. Limping the car across the finish line ensured we got some important championship points from this event which all count at the end of the season.”

The next two rounds of the 2013 Avon Tyres British GT Championship will be in Zandvort in Holland on Saturday 7th & Sunday 8th September featuring two one-hour sprint races.