Fresh from making their GT3 debut at Oulton Park, Century Motorsport were hoping to achieve some better results this time out as the championship moved to the unique Rockingham Motor Speedway in Corby for round two of the 2017 British GT Championship.
Having had the opportunity to test their heavily revised for 2017 Ginetta G55 GT3’s in the weeks leading up to the event, the team were feeling confident that the ground work had been done in conjunction with the lessons learned at Oulton Park to have a smooth event. Saturday morning’s Free Practice sessions showed plenty of positive rewards for their hard work, with the gap to the front runners now much closer than it had been at Oulton Park. Leading the charge for the Century runners was the #19 Ginetta of Parker Chase and Charlie Robertson, putting themselves well inside the top 10 and crucially just over a second off the sessions best times. Harry Gottsacker and Nathan Freke took a little longer to dial their #69 G55 into the circuit, but by the end of Free Practice two they were right on the coattails of their sister car.
Going into qualifying, first in the cars for the opening 10 minutes were Parker Chase and Harry Gottsacker. With grid places being decided on a combination of the drivers times, the team were hoping that their Silver/Silver pairings would be in with a good chance of a strong starting position. Finishing the session in ninth for Chase and 11th for Gottsacker, it was over to their co-drivers Charlie Robertson and Nathan Freke respectively for the final part of qualifying. Robertson was rapid from the off, but his chances of propelling the crew up the order were dealt a blow when the officials deemed his best effort had contravened the infamous track limits regulations, and his time was removed. His next best effort was only sufficient to place him ninth and reflect on what could have been. Nathan Freke continues to adjust to his new mount for 2017 and when the chequered flag fell his best run placed him in 10th.
Moving into Sunday for the main event of the weekend, the track action began with the usual 10 minute morning warm-up and it was a drama free session for both crews. Shortly after 1pm, racing got underway with two hours of action in store around the 1.9 mile Rockingham International Super Sportscar configuration circuit. American duo Parker Chase and Harry Gottsacker were both first in their G55’s to start the race and it was Gottsacker who made the best getaway as the lights went out. Slipping past his teammate Chase into ninth, cruelly his spell ahead would be short lived when an ABS sensor issue sent him into the gravel at Tarzan, requiring the first Safety Car period of the race to enable his extraction. Aided by the trackside Marshals, it wasn’t long before Harry was out and quickly into the pits for an assessment by his crew. This had now promoted Chase up to tenth as the racing got back underway on lap five. From there Chase put in some superb laps to maintain his position and remain with the lead group. However he was about to get his own spell of bad luck, when sudden steering issues required an early trip to the pits. Taken into the garage for further investigation, a minor suspension issue was found to be the cause and quickly repaired by the crew. However loosing a number of laps during the repair process, Parker had now fallen well out of contention, but returned to the track to complete his stint and gain some additional valuable experience.
Harry Gottsacker was also on a development run and putting in some rapid laps. However the hotly contested track limits rules were about to raise their head again, with Harry being handed a five second penalty for a breach of the regulations. First into the pits for a driver change was Parker Chase, handing the car over to his co-driver Charlie Robertson to complete the race. The former LMP3 Champion put in a superb stint and proved how far the Ginetta had come since Oulton in terms of its race pace, completing the race at the two hour mark. Gottsacker was next into the pits to hand the car over to Nathan Freke, however further drama was about to decent upon the #69 G55, when the pitlane officials deemed their mandatory stop to be too fast and Freke was called into the pits to serve a 30-second penalty in the penalty box. This penalty would later be rescinded due to a calculation error on the part of the event Timekeepers, however the penalty had already been served so that damage was already done. From there, Nathan put in a good stint to take the #69 Ginetta to the chequered flag.
Parker Chase – #19 Century Motorsport Ginetta G55 GT3:
“Well this weekend went a million times better than Oulton Park. Saturday we knew we had the pace and in qualifying we knew we could be right up towards the front which was great. The race was disappointing, but now we know we have the pace we just need to work on developing the car a little more to iron out some of the bugs and hopefully in Snetterton or maybe Silverstone we can really get something done.”
Charlie Robertson – #19 Century Motorsport Ginetta G55 GT3:
“It’s been a weekend of attrition here in Rockingham, but we found a lot from Oulton and have a lot more pace in the car now. I was very happy with how the car felt in qualifying especially, but it was very disappointing that my best time got disallowed for track limits which cost us a lot. In the race Parker was running well, staying with the pack and the pace was good, the safety cars helped us early on. Unfortunately the suspension issue cost us a number of laps getting it repaired which dropped us down the order. But again our race pace was good and I was happy with my stint, staying with the main guys up the front in terms of pace so hopefully we can build on that going to Snetterton.”
Nathan Freke – #69 Century Motorsport Ginetta G55 GT3:
“Coming away from this weekend the big positive to focus on is our vastly improved pace. We’ve been able to get much closer to the front runners which is a real confidence boost. Harry did a great job again and had it not been for the off on lap two, I think we could have had a real shot at a top result. If we can take this pace to Snetterton I think we could be in with a good shout for a strong finish.”
Harry Gottsacker – #69 Century Motorsport Ginetta G55 GT3:
“The pace has been there this weekend which is good. I think if we can fix our little breaking issues and work out how to be fast at the start of the race I think we should be on point. If we can get these things sorted out we should be running with the guys out front at the next weekend.”
Les Jones – Team Manager, Century Motorsport:
“Coming from Oulton Park we knew there were a number of areas that we needed to focus on. The big highlight this weekend has been the much improved pace of the two cars in every session. We are now running much closer to the front of the field which is great. We had some bad luck in the races which I think cost us some potentially good results, but hopefully we can take this pace with us to Snetterton and use it to good effect there.”
Rounds 4 & 5, Snetterton 300, Norwich, UK – Saturday 27th & Sunday 28th May 2017.