After a weekend of mixed results at Oulton Park, Century Motorsport were keen to ensure they scored some solid points at Rockingham for the season’s first two hour race of the season.
Saturday turned out to be a productive day for the team, working hard on setup and data analysis with both drivers during the morning’s pair of Free Practice sessions. Confident they had found a suitable balance, starting positions for Sunday’s 120-minute encounter would be based upon a combination of both driver’s times from qualifying. A solid run from both Aleksander and James would see them place their car ninth on the grid for Sunday afternoon’s race.
Sunday morning would present an all-new challenge however, with a lengthy spell of rain soaking the Corby circuit. The morning’s ten-minute warm-up became the only opportunity for both the drivers and their team to familiarise themselves with the characteristics of their Ginetta G55 in the wet conditions.
Despite many weather forecasts saying otherwise, the sun appeared and suddenly teams and drivers were presented with a dry track meaning slick tyres became the obvious option to start the race on.
Aleksander Schjerpen started the race for the team, with the Norwegian driver making a lightning start climbing two positions on the opening lap. Keen to make up as many positions as possible during his stint, Aleksander continued his superb run to pit the car in fourth position approaching the one-hour, half way mark.
A well-executed pit stop allowed Birch to return to the track briefly in third, before controlling a solid fourth place for the majority of his stint. However a safety car period approaching the final 15 minutes of the race would spell disaster for the team. With many cars around them on fresher tyres, they were now presented with an opportunity to capitalise on the bunched up field. Falling to seventh after the restart, James continued to battle for position but remained in seventh as he crossed the finish line.
James Birch – #43 Ginetta G55 GT4:
“The weekend as a whole was very positive. The main thing for me was getting some strong points on the board and some good time in the car. I think both Aleksander and I came on leaps and bounds again this weekend, going quicker and quicker. In the race itself, Aleksander did a fantastic job to bring the car in to the pits in the position he did. Overall we were strong for the race and pretty consistent. Unfortunately the Safety Car came out towards the end of the race when we were on slightly older rubber, but it was the correct decision to make as it allowed us to be in the position we were in up to that point. A great job again by everyone at Century Motorsport and now I’m looking forward to Silverstone!”
Aleksander Schjerpen – #43 Ginetta G55 GT4:
“All in all I’m very happy with this weekend, we got some valuable points which is good. I got quite a good start to the race and I got one or two positions on the first lap. Then it was just about getting past the slower cars in front of us during my stint and maintaining the gap to the cars in front. Century Motorsport gave me a brilliant car so it was really good to push with. James did a fantastic job, but the last Safety Car didn’t do us any good, but that’s racing! Now I’m looking forward to Silverstone!”
Nathan Freke – Team Principal:
“It was a good weekend really. We spent a lot of time on Saturday morning working on setup changes as its quite a unique circuit and every time we hit the ground this weekend we found a good chunk of time. Aleksander had a good start to the race, driving a very clean stint bringing it in to the pits in fourth place. After a good pit stop, James returned to the track in third momentarily but then had a good clean race from there in fourth. There was an outside chance we could have challenged for third, but unfortunately the safety car in the final 15 minutes bunched the field up and we had a difficult first lap after the restart. Its hard not to be disappointed with the result, as it was a good clean race, all by the book, but that’s the way it goes and I’m sure we’ll benefit from a Safety Car later in the season. Looking ahead to Silverstone, we’ve got a test booked before the event, so I’m confident we’ll have a good showing there.”