After the third GT5 Challenge race was cancelled due to the treacherous weather at the season opener at Oulton Park, Century Motorsport drivers Max Bird and James Kellett went to Rockingham (28th – 29th April) with an even bigger hunger for success. Kellett managed to bring home three trophies to add to his two from Oulton Park, making it a podium finish for Kellett in every race so far. Bird showed very good pace throughout the weekend however not securing a clear lap during the qualifying session didn’t go in his favour – nevertheless he has come away with some more solid points.
During Friday’s very wet testing session, boh cars were showing great pace. The wet weather continued into Saturday morning when it was time for the qualifying session where Kellett, in the number 13 car with it’s eye-catching new red, blue and white livery, topped the grid right up until the final lap where pole was then taken away from him by a tiny margin of 0.262 seconds, leaving Kellett qualifying in second. After showing superb pace in the testing session, Bird, in the striking blue, black and white number 44 car, struggled to secure a clear lap during the qualifying session and unfortunately this resulted in him qualifying in sixth.
A very wet Race 1 started just after 16:30. By the end of lap 1, Bird had gained one position where he remained until the end of lap 5. He then lost two positions by the end of lap 8 and had to settle with seventh place. Kellett led the whole race after grabbing first off the line. Going into lap 4, the car in second place was catching up with Kellett and was only half a second behind but Kellett remained strong and ended up taking the victory, along with Fastest Lap.
In drier conditions, Race 2 got underway on Sunday morning with Kellett on pole and Bird starting from row 4 on the grid. Bird was pushed into a spin towards the end of lap 2 and dropped right down to 25th, leaving it impossible for him to claw back his grid start position. He managed to fight his way through some of the traffic and had to settle with 17th place at the chequered flag. Kellett controlled the race from lights to flag, managing the gap from him to second
Race 3 saw a reverse grid of the top seven finishers from Race 2, putting Kellett on row 4. By lap 5, Kellett had managed to find second position, but had a 5 second gap to try and make up to get onto the tail of the leader. Setting fastest lap on lap 7, Kellett just ran out of laps and finished an eventual 1.5 seconds away from mounting a challenge for the lead. Bird battled his way through the traffic from the moment the lights went out.He gained five positions in the first lap and by the end of lap 6 he had gained an almighty 12 positions from his grid-start position putting him in fifth. After a superb effort to get back upfront, Bird ended up settling in eighth position.
“Overall what an incredible weekend! Testing was tricky to start off with but Century worked extremely hard and got the car perfect for the race. Winning both race 1 and race 2 then finishing second in race 3 plus achieving fastest lap in two races – it was almost a perfect weekend! We showed very strong pace all weekend and hopefully we can do the same for the next round.”
“Coming away from Rockingham having learnt a lot about where we can improve and what I can do differently, has given me confidence for the rest of the season.”
Nathan Freke, Owner of Century Motorsport:
“It’s been a bit of a dream weekend for James. We knew that Rockingham would be a strong one as he was very fast on the media day, but to come away with 2 wins and a second is fantastic.
Max had great pace all weekend but it seemed to be a case of circumstances not going his way. It started by not getting a clear lap in qualifying and was then in the rough of it during the races. Race 3 saw him carve through the field and show the pace he really had.
We are all looking forward to Thruxton where we hope to come away with more silverware and a good points haul!”
The next round will be held at Thruxton on 19th – 20th May, supporting the BTCC.
[ Feature image of James Kellett – photo credit: Jakob Ebrey Photography ]