Century Motorsport entered the Donington Park Britcar night race to provide one of their newest drivers Tom Oliphant with his first taste of endurance racing. Partnered by experienced GT Endurance racer and Team Principal Nathan Freke, the pair were full of confidence coming into the event. Tom had impressed on his Ginetta G55 debut at Rockingham and Silverstone in the Ginetta GT Supercup and with the car now partially upgraded to the 2014 specification, which included a paddle-shift gearbox, all the ingredients to secure a strong result were in place.
Getting their weekend off to a strong start, the pair put on an impressive display in the day time qualifying session. Placing their Ginetta G55 in sixth position for the evening’s race, the session was later followed by a short night time practice session to allow drivers to familiarise themselves with racing at night.
Progressing into the night for the start of the two-hour race, changeable weather conditions were on the horizon making tyre choice critical throughout the race. Opting to start the race on slicks, Tom Oliphant had a superb opening stint climbing up to third position and into a class lead before pitting for wet tyres. Continuing to extend his lead coming up to the one-hour mark, he handed over to Nathan Freke for his stint. During the driver change pitstop, Freke changed back onto slicks and continued to extend their advantage at the head of the class. However on the final lap, a clean race was set to end with a little drama when the left rear wheel sheared off the car. Despite this, their healthy advantage allowed them to retain their third overall finishing position and class victory.
Speaking after the race, Nathan Freke complimented Tom and the Century crew for their part in achieving a strong result, “I’ve got to say I really enjoyed that! Tom did a superb job in his first ever endurance style event. A calculated but fast opening stint allowed him to bring the car into the pits to hand over to me at the one hour mark in a healthy class lead. All I had to do was maintain our advantage over the final hour and bring the car home. The team did a fantastic job as we had an extra pitstop to deal with when Tom called for wet tyres during his stint. All in all a great effort as we start working towards 2014!”
Tom Oliphant added, “I really enjoyed the whole event! Driving in the dark was a new experience and one that I can’t wait to try again. The whole team was brilliant throughout and we could not have won without their huge effort. I am looking forward to 2014 when I hope to compete in the GT4 class, I know that as a team we can secure a lot more success in the future.”
– Photo: Stevie Borowik Photography