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Century extend their championship lead in GT5 Challenge at Knockhill

August bank holiday weekend marked the penultimate round of the GT5 Challenge, which was held at Knockhill Racing Circuit, supporting the British Touring Car Championship. Century Motorsport headed to the Scottish circuit, hoping to come away with some more championship points to extend their lead along with their first and fourth driver standings.

Going into Saturday afternoon, Kellett posted the quickest time in the qualifying session with Bird just 0.280s slower, posting the fourth quickest time. The first race was on Saturday afternoon, where both Century drivers started on the two front rows.

Bird started the race from fourth on the grid and by the fifth lap he had gained one place. He defended his position very well, remaining in third place for several laps after the first safety car period. On lap 16, the number 89 car found a way to slip past Bird, pushing him back to fourth place. Moments later, contact between the race leader, Kellett, and the car in second place, caused both to spin out, promoting Bird to second place. This is where he then remained until the chequered flag, just 0.461s behind the race winner.

Kellett made a perfect start from pole position and controlled the race right up until lap 16, when the contact mentioned above, caused Kellett to spin out and drop down to fourth place. A safety car came out during this lap due to another incident and by the time the safety car had left the track, there were only two laps remaining, leaving very little time for Kellett to work his way back to the front. He crossed the line 1-second behind the race winner in fourth, however a post-race penalty for the driver ahead of Kellett, saw Kellett move up to third. He also finished with a new lap record for the GT5 Challenge at Knockhill, with a speedy time of 56.391s.

The second race was shown live on ITV4 on Sunday afternoon. The sky darkened and the heavens opened up, making for a very slippery track with poor visibility for the drivers. Several cars came off the track during the first lap, causing a race restart to occur a few laps later. Just before the incident, Kellett had found a way past Bird, putting them in third and fourth respectively, as the number 6 car that started the race from fourth on the grid, had already found second place ahead of both Century Motorsport drivers.

A couple of laps after the safety car, an opportune overtaking move saw Kellett move up to second place. Despite his very best efforts – constantly putting pressure on the race leader – Kellett never found a gap to pass the number 89 car and after a very tense last few laps of being bumper-to-bumper, he had to settle with second place at the chequered flag.

Bird was battling for third place for the majority of the race after dropping down to fourth near the beginning in the treacherous conditions. A great lengthy battle and some superb driving saw Bird eventually finding a way past car number 6 at the hairpin just two laps from the end of the race on the slippery track, moving him up to third. Bird claimed his personal best lap on the final lap, which happened to be the second fastest lap of the race, showing he had the pace to be fighting up front.

The team came away with some solid points and both drivers achieved podium finishes in each race, along with a new lap record and a second-fastest lap. Kellett and Bird both raced superbly in very tricky conditions. Century are looking forward to the final round of the Ginetta GT5 Challenge at Donington Park, supporting the British GT Championship on 22nd – 23rd September, where the champion’s title will be awarded!

Bird:

“This just shows hard work and training brings results and every hour training is worth the pain for the results.”

 Kellett:

“Finishing Friday’s practice as the fastest car on the grid, I knew I would have pace for the whole weekend. Qualifying on Saturday morning was absolutely mega – pole by over two-tenths! The first race was dry and I built up a good lead of over 1.5s, until the safety car made the group catch me back up. Going into the first corner I got tapped on my rear wheel, which put me into a spin, leaving me to finish the race in fourth [a post-race penalty seen this position change to third]. A frustrating race as I was the quickest on the grid and I was the man to win but racing is racing! 

Race 2 on Sunday was interesting. It was absolutely throwing it down. I really love to race in wet conditions, as I believe it brings the best drivers to the front. After a few laps I got myself into second position and was on the chase for first. As soon as I gapped the cars behind, the safety car came out, which bunched the field up. I was unlucky to only have three laps after the safety car to race but I did catch the car in front on the last couple of corners but just didn’t have the legs to get past. Overall an interesting weekend: finishing third and second and setting a new lap record can’t be too bad!”

 Nathan Freke, Owner of Century Motorsport:

“Knockhill was a great weekend for us – in only 1 outing did we not top the timing sheets. It was a shame for James not to get the win in race 1, but racing is close and sometimes contact happens, especially with the tight nature of the circuit. Max was able to capitalise on that and came perilously close to the race win.

Both drivers drove amazingly in the last race, especially in such tricky conditions. To come away with 2 double podiums, a lap record and retaining the championship lead in both the teams and drivers’ standings has put us in a fantastic position going into the last round at Donington.”