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Century Motorsport secure top GT4 points at Snetterton

Century Motorsport approached rounds five and six of the 2014 Avon Tyres British GT Championship at Snetterton full of optimism that they were finally approaching a turning point in their season. Scandinavian drivers Morten Dons and Aleksander Schjerpen had been enjoying a strong debut season in British GT, but the team couldn’t help but feel disappointed at the loss of a number of podiums so far this season for Rick Parfitt Jnr and Tom Oliphant, particularly having lead the majority of the last two rounds in Rockingham and Silverstone.

The weekend got off to a mixed start during Saturday morning’s free practice sessions as the team refined the setup to this years Balance of Performance regulations. Aleksander and Morten had the difficult task of acclimatising themselves to the Norfolk circuit during both sessions in advance of Saturday afternoon’s qualifying shoot out. Having found a suitable balance for both cars, Rick Parfitt Jnr began Saturday afternoon’s qualifying for race one, placing the #42 Ginetta in second for Sunday’s opening race. Morten Dons was just as impressive given his lack of track time finishing the session fifth in GT4. Tom Oliphant took over the #42 car for the pro-driver qualifying two and as the session came to a close he finished up in fourth for Sunday afternoon’s race two with Aleksander Schjerpen struggling to match his teammates pace to finish the session tenth in the #43 Ginetta.

A hassle free morning warm-up allowed both crews to approach Sunday’s race one with a sense of optimism. Indeed as the race got underway, both crews enjoyed a clean opening stint with Parfitt showing his merit as a champion pitting the car in a healthy GT4 lead. However that cloud of bad luck would deal the team another minor blow as a restart issue leaving the pitlane hindered Tom Oliphant’s exit and with it, handed the class lead to the #77 Lotus. However once he got back on circuit, Oliphant quickly set about making his way back up the order to the leaders. Morten opted to pit towards the end of the pitstop window and inherited the class lead before handing the #43 car over to Norway’s Aleksander Schjerpen. On his return to the circuit, Schjerpen remained within reach of the podium until the closing stages of the race before being caught by the titanic battle between Jake Giddings’ Aston Martin and Tom Oliphant. As the chequered flag was raised however, Tom couldn’t find a way past the Aston and brought his Ginetta G55 across the line for his debut British GT podium in third followed closely by teammate Aleksander Schjerpen in fourth.

Hoping to make it two from two, Tom Oliphant lined up in fourth for race two with Aleksander Schjerpen starting from tenth after struggling in Saturday afternoon’s qualifying two. However drama would return to the #42 team as Tom was forced to return to the garage at the end of the opening lap to investigate a gearbox issue. The race itself was then red flagged after a substantial GT3 incident at the first corner, which subsequently took almost an hour to clear. This provided the Century Motorsport mechanics with some valuable time to repair the issue. Indeed a valiant effort by the #42 team of engineers and mechanics allowed Tom to begin the restarted race from the pitlane just as it was about to resume. Looking to reward the efforts of the team, Oliphant put in a superb stint bringing the car into the pits in sixth before handing over to Rick Parfitt Jnr to finish the race. Aleksander Schjerpen was also clearly getting the most from a revised setup for race two. His opening stint in the race had promoted him to eighth before handing the car over to Denmark’s Morten Dons. Parfitt and Dons were now both on a charge up the order over the remaining laps before the pair ended up running together in the closing stages of the race. As the chequered flag was prepared, the pair in second and third respectively consolidated their positions to earn the team its first double podium of the season and a second podium of the day for the #42 G55.

Rick Parfitt Jnr – #42 Ginetta G55 GT4:
“This weekend has been quite emotional to say the least for me. I’ve been in quite a lot of pain with my Crohns, but unfortunately its just one of those things I’ve got to work through. In both races it looked like our poor run of luck was going to ruin yet another pair of podiums for us, but the team did an amazing job this weekend and good stints from both Tom and myself earned us some silverware at last! Next it’s off to the iconic Spa-Francorchamps and hopefully this is now the turning point of our season!”

Tom Oliphant – #42 Ginetta G55 GT4:
“The weekend was a great result, we finally got the luck we deserved all year.”

“The first race was going so well until the clutch failed and caused a 15 second delay in the pits but we pulled it back to 3rd and got a much needed podium.”

“The second race was a real emotional roller coaster, the clutch again played up on the warm up lap and forced us to pit, once the red flag had caused a stoppage the team went to work. The mechanics were amazing to get the car fixed ready for me to rejoin in last and we managed to gain 2nd place. Overall I’m really happy with the performance, the team deserve full credit for their efforts because without them the day would have gone very different. We couldn’t have done it without them.”

Morten Dons – #43 Ginetta G55 GT4:
“First time at Snetterton with no simulator training, but I got to really like that circuit!

“It was an very good weekend for the team. I was quite happy with my own pace in the car, starting P4 in race 1 and handing the car over to Aleks on P1. With our lack of experience with the track, some of the other teams were able to push very hard, so we ended up with P4 again, but with some good points. “

“In the second race it was quite a challenge, since we started from the very back, but Aleks did a great job in the car and the car just ran perfectly after our change, so I was able to push and work the car up the field. I caught Rick in P2, but couldn’t find the right way through before the clock ran out, but still very happy with a P3 and to get back on the podium – it’s where we want to be!”

Aleksander Schjerpen – #43 Ginetta G55 GT4:
“It is safe to say we are very happy with the result, the whole team have done a great job the whole weekend, from practice to race. We struggled a little with the car for race one, but the team found a good setup change, so Morten and I could push harder for the next race. We finally found a great setup, and had a good pace throughout the race. I am so happy for the team, its a fantastic result ending the weekend with a double podium, and Morten and myself got some valuable points.”

“Now we are really looking forward for Spa, I think that event is one of the highlights of the season both for me and Morten. I think Century Motorsport and car #43 will be strong there as well.”

Nathan Freke – Team Principal, Century Motorsport:
“Today I am so proud of everyone who works with me in the team. Our never give up attitude ensured we kept the #42 car on track for Rick and Tom to do a fantastic job on track and earn a double podium today which is the least everyone deserved. Aleksander and Morten had a trouble free weekend and proved that despite their lack of track time, they are a mega quick combination. I really hope our unlucky streak is behind us now and we can return to the podium once again in Spa.”