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Century remain in title race despite disappointing Snetterton weekend

Century Motorsport’s GT4 Championship leading pairing of Declan Jones and Zoe Wenham approached Snetterton for Rounds five and six aiming to rebuild the healthy advantage they had enjoyed after the opening rounds of the year. Multiple lengthy safety car periods and some poor luck when a gearbox breather pipe came loose and filled the car with smoke cut the pair’s championship advantage down to just 20 points after the last round at Silverstone.

Blue skies greeted drivers for the first of two hour long free practice sessions at the Norfolk venue. However Snetterton’s well known changeable conditions would strike again making both sessions very mixed with heavy rain to pure dry conditions. Saturday afternoon however was very much a wet session for the two 15 minute qualifying sessions to decide the starting order for Sunday’s two one hour long races. Zoe Wenham was behind the wheel for the first session and her recent lack of wet weather running prevented her from getting the time she was aiming for. Fourth fastest in GT4 would be the reward for her efforts as she handed the car over to Declan Jones for the second qualifying session. More comfortable with the wet conditions, Jones ended the session a mere nine hundredths of a second off pole sitter Dan Eagling.

Sunday morning had always promised for fine weather and the sun was indeed beaming for the 10 minute warm up to open the days action. Both Zoe and Declan reported a good balance in the car after the session leaving them both full of confidence ahead of race one. Qualifying the car fourth on the grid, Zoe Wenham started the race for Century Motorsport. A strong sequence of opening laps allowed her to maintain fourth position before contact from the Aston Martin of Steven Chaplin damaged the steering of the Supagard supported G50 while challenging for third. At the 35 minute mark, Declan Jones took control of the Century Motorsport Ginetta for his stint but was shortly back into the pits for a drive through penalty as a result of a marginally short pitstop, just one quarter of a second shy of the regulation length. However Zoe had done a good job on her stint to ensure that after the driver changes were complete, Declan Jones was quickly up to third and Jones himself had built a healthy advantage in third to remain there even after the penalty. Declan now set about closing the gap down to the second placed Aston Martin and by the chequered flag had a gap of almost 30 seconds after his drive through penalty down to just 16 seconds at the chequered flag crossing the line in a solid third place.

Starting race two from second on the grid, Declan Jones was aiming to make a quick return to the front of the order. Indeed that’s just what he did leading right from the first corner. A flawless opening 20 minutes from the Chicago Soft supported Liverpudlian earned him a convincing lead in the GT4 category. However as he approached the end of his stint all his fantastic work was undone with contact from the GT3 Ferrari of Gary Eastwood & Rob Barff. Jones quickly pitted the car and handed over the reigns to Zoe Wenham for her stint but she too had to return to the pits as the damage from the earlier incident was now causing the bonnet to flap excessively. The Century Motorsport team as ever did a superb job to quickly repair the damage and get her back out on track. Wenham quickly got her head down to try and make her way back up the order but sadly the gap was now too significant and the pair would have to settle for fifth in GT4 at the finish line.

Century Motorsport team principal Nathan Freke reflected on the weekend’s events on Sunday evening saying: “We were coming to Snetterton this weekend looking to make a strong return to the podium. Third in race one was good but the contact Zoe suffered early in the race did us no favours and left us with a poor handling car for much of the race. The drive through penalty was frustrating as we had worked hard to get our stop just right to ensure we capitalised on any potential benefit but ended up paying a big price for getting it slightly wrong. Race two should have been a win for us but sadly it was our turn to suffer from questionable driving standards by GT3 drivers recently. As ever Declan and Zoe did a super job all weekend especially in very mixed conditions on Saturday along with our team who were tested at several points during the weekend. We’re still very much in the title race as we move to the next round at Brands Hatch so hopefully we will enjoy a turn of fortune there!”

Declan Jones added: “Despite a strong showing it was a bit of a mixed bag this weekend. A good opening stint by Zoe in the first race had us looking good before the drive-through penalty cost us about 20 seconds and meant we had to settle for third. I made a good start in race two but that Ferrari which put us off ruined all that work. We would definitely have been on for a win. However we still got some important points on the board and another podium. Brands is next and it’s a place I love so I can’t wait! I must say a big thank you to my sponsors for their continued support this season including Chicago Soft, The London Perfume Company and Hero Energy.”

Zoe Wenham outlined her disappointment at what could have been: “It was a shame that in both races we sustained damage because I was comfortable in the car and improving each time I went out. It was a very disappointing weekend especially to have been leading race two and then being knocked off by an impatient GT3 car. With Motorsport you live and learn and we will be back on the title hunt at Brands Hatch! Once again my sponsors who include, Laird Assessors, Supagard, Geometric Manufacturing and Fadalcnc, all have been fantastic and thank you so much to them for their support.”