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Century crowned GT4 drivers’ and team champions after Donington Decider

Century Motorsport headed to the final round of the 2018 British GT Championship, commonly known as the ‘Donington Decider’, leading both the Team Championship standings and the Drivers’ Championship standings, with Jack Mitchell just ahead of team mates Ben Green and Ben Tuck. Dean Macdonald started with Century part way through the season therefore he didn’t have the same points as Mitchell. It was an extremely tense weekend for the majority of the teams in the paddock. The championship points were all so close and there were five cars in with a chance of taking the GT4 championship title, so there wasn’t much room for mistakes to be made. Astonishingly, after both of Century’s BMW M4 GT4s were handed penalties during the final race, this did not deter them from doing what they needed to do in order to take both GT4 championship titles home!

The final British GT qualifying session of the year got underway on Saturday afternoon. Green and Tuck both impressed and got the #42 car on pole for the second time this season. In car #43, Mitchell and Macdonald posted the seventh quickest time in what was a very damp session.

Sunday afternoon, the grey skies had gone and the sun was shining for the final British GT race of the season. Green started the 2-hour race from pole position in car #42. Although this seemed ideal, the pair had a 15s success penalty from coming second at the previous round therefore there was an uncertainty as to where the pair would end up. Mitchell and Macdonald started three rows behind the sister-BMW but with no success penalty, maybe they had the advantage?

Green held the lead for the first couple of laps until the #10 car found a way past. Green then spent some time comfortably in second place, just before a safety car came out for an oil spillage. Green inherited the lead after the #10 car ran wide on the oil. Unfortunately the yellow flag was waved just as Green was part way through an overtaking manoeuvre and the car later got a penalty for this. After the safety car period, Green continued to lead the GT4 race until lap 30 when the same car from earlier on in the race took his place.

During lap 34, Green dived into the pits for the mandatory driver change with teammate Tuck. It was a very long and tense wait with the extra 15s success penalty.

During lap 39, whilst in fifth position, Tuck was instructed to head into the penalty box for a 10s stop and go penalty due to a yellow flag infringement in Green’s stint. This came just after Tuck’s fastest lap of the race at 1m36.645s. Tuck rejoined the race in tenth place and spent the rest of his stint fighting his way back to the front, with the drivers’ championship title still in distant reach. An excellent drive saw Tuck find fifth place by lap 61 and he was unable to find any more positions for the remainder of the race, crossing the finish line in fifth position.

Macdonald started the race from seventh on the grid. He found fifth place off the line and held this position up until lap 19 where he was promoted to fourth place due to the #61 car taking to the pits. A few laps later, the #86 car found a way past Macdonald however four laps later; Macdonald grabbed his fourth place back. Instantly after Century teammates in #42 had exited the pits after their driver change, Macdonald headed to the pits to hand over to the then championship leader, Mitchell.

Mitchell found himself in sixth place upon exiting the pits. Green and Tuck were handed a stop and go penalty during lap 39 and the #55 Ginetta took to the pits during the next lap, which promoted Mitchell up to fourth place.

Due to the tight nature of the pit lane, Macdonald had been unable to bring the car in at a straight enough angle, not allowing the team to get the earth strap on the car properly. Frustratingly, this resulted in a 10s stop and go penalty. During lap 56, Mitchell headed to the penalty box, dropping him right down the order. This left family and friends along with some team members, believing that both cars #42 and #43 had lost their chances of getting the championship title. There was a very tense atmosphere in the garage at this time, leaving everyone feeling deflated and extremely anxious.

Mitchell re-entered the race in ninth position. A couple of laps later, he managed to find eighth position, which unbeknown to all the viewers, meant that he would win the championship if he remained in this position along with a couple of other cars also remaining in their positions.

Mitchell crossed the line in eighth place and then the rest of the team heard whispers in the garage that this was enough for him to win the championship by just one point, ahead of Century’s #42 car of Green and Tuck.

It turned out that the whispers were true and along with Mitchell being the British GT4 Champion and Green and Tuck being the Vice GT4 Champions, Century Motorsport were also the 2018 British GT Team Champions!

For what started out as an uncertain season with a pair of brand new BMW M4 GT4s that hadn’t raced in the British GT Championship before, the team have achieved so much success along with the support of BMW Motorsport.

The team are looking forward to taking the BMWs to the Dubai Autodrome for the Hankook 24-hour race in January and hope for another successful season of racing with the cars.

Century Motorsport would like to thank all their drivers, including the aid of Ricky Collard and Aleksander Schjerpen, for their dedication and speed this year; BMW Motorsport for their support and belief right from the start; and finally every member of Team Century for their gritted determination and ambition to be the best – hard work pays off!

Mitchell:

“Eventful weekend to say the least with lots of ups and downs along the way. Our pace from the get go looked very promising and we improved that in FP2 by going fastest by over half a second. All was looking good for qualifying until the rain appeared and turned it into a lottery. Struggling for traction as usual off the tight hairpins lost us the time we needed to be at the front and 7th was the best we could do. But all was not lost as that was the last of the rain for the weekend and we knew our pace was strong in the dry.

As most Donington deciders go, the championships aren’t given to you on a plate so after being given our stop and go penalty for a pit stop infringement when battling for 3rd place I knew it was going to be down to the wire. Constantly on the radio to the team asking what was needed to do to win the championship. We slowly figured out I needed to make one more place and hold 8th position without any other changes to the other competition and luckily we was able to do so and win the championship after a rollercoaster of a weekend.

Can’t thank everyone at century motorsport and BMW motorsport enough for all the help and support this year. British GT champion was never my expectations starting the year with limited testing but with great teamwork and professionalism of century we was able to do the unexpected.”

Macdonald:

“It was a race that threw everything at us and was probably the most exciting race of the season. It was very frustrating trying to gain time on other cars when the GT3’s were battling so much as they lapped us but I was happy with the car throughout my stint and felt like our pace was getting better the more time we did and felt like we were in a strong situation after the pit stops. It was a shame about the 10s stop go penalty we got as it was looking good for a podium, at the end of the day I was just really happy for jack and the team to seal the championship after all their hard work all year.”

Green:

“We went into the final round needing to have a strong finish to challenge the championship leaders, our team mates. With our pit stop success penalty we needed to build a big gap in the first stint. We had our best qualifying session to date and put the #42 car on Pole Position for Sunday’s race. I started the race well and lead for most of my stint. There was a safety car, which closed the large gap I had built against the next cars. I managed to pull out another good gap after the safety car came in and then handed the car over to Ben Tuck.

Shortly after Ben started his stint we were given a 10 second stop/go penalty for an overtake under a safety car. This was a big shame for me as at the exact time I overtook a car (lapping a back marker in last place) a yellow flag came out, which I could not see while doing the overtaking manoeuvre, for an incident on the opposite side of the track. I spoke to the team as much as possible to work out what to do but we were given the penalty anyway.

We then finished the race and ended up 2nd in the championship, 1 point off of the winners. It’s gutting to miss out on the championship but we have had a very successful year and this is something I am proud of. Century Motorsport, BMW Motorsport and Ben Tuck have been fantastic to work with and I look forward to furthering all of these connections in the future! Congratulations to Jack Mitchell for taking the win and to Century Motorsport for winning the teams championship and finishing 1st and 2nd in the drivers championship!”

Tuck:

It was almost the perfect weekend. Once again Century and BMW Motorsport provided a car that was perfect and Ben Green and myself started off our final weekend with pole position for the race.

Unfortunately due to a penalty mid way through the race, out chances were almost completely lost but the car felt great and I fought back to fifth place after the penalty, but still finished just 1 point away from the championship! A massive congratulations to Jack for the championship title and I’m also extremely proud and happy for Century on winning the team title and 1-2 in the drivers title.”

Nathan Freke, Owner of Century Motorsport:

“WOW! What a crazy weekend! We certainly didn’t make it easy for ourselves. Qualifying for car 42 couldn’t have gone better, but 43 we just missed the sweet spot on the setup and 7th was the best it could manage. The race went very well to begin with for Ben G, but the safety car making 42’s life hard, then a very tough decision to give them a 10 second stop-go for a yellow flag infringement really threw things in the air.

Dean did a great stint, but unfortunately when he boxed, the teams either side of our garage were also in their box and it made it impossible for Dean to get over close enough to the rig, making it impossible to get the earth wire hooked up properly, which resulted in another 10 second stop-go! 

 To say things were tense would be an understatement. We figured that Jack had to finish 8th to win it with the positions remaining the same. Both Jack and Ben T had good stints and to get further up the order required someone else’s misfortune, which didn’t look likely. So knowing that, we looked good for a 1-2 in the championships, BUT the fact that there was a McLaren leading, and our closest rival (also in a McLaren) in second, our fear was that they could swap places, which would have allowed them to take the championship title. It was quite literally a nail biting finish, but so happy to emerge 1st and 2nd in the championships and a win in the teams’ championships to boot!

 The drivers have been great all year, a real pleasure to work with. BMW have been great with their support, it’s really something special to be part of the BMW family and I thank them for that. But my main thanks go to all the team for putting all the effort in at the track and away from the track. We had something really special this year. The whole dynamic worked and we all got the best out of each other. I’m already looking forward to 2019 and working with you all again!”