Coming off the back of a premature end to their participation at the Championship’s away rounds in Spa-Francorchamps last time out, Century Motorsport were hoping for a turn in their fortunes as they returned to Brands Hatch, a circuit that saw them start from pole position in GT4 last season and finish the two hours on the podium with Nathan Freke and Anna Walewska. In the #43 side of the garage, Jacob Mathiassen was set to be joined by a new teammate in the form of British Formula Ford Champion Niall Murray for his British GT debut.
How the race went for car number 43:
Featuring an all new driver line-up, the #43 Ginetta G55 GT4 moved up to the Silver/Silver category coming into the weekend as Formula Ford star Niall Murray teamed up with Jacob Mathiassen. Despite the Irishman’s lack of experience, he quickly got to grips with his new mount during Free Practice, despite his shortened running in the first session following a drive shaft failure.
Going into Qualifying, the pair had been feeling confident before heavy rain arrived and soaked the Kent circuit. Despite the track rapidly drying out, it was a full wet setup for Murray who took part in the first 10-minute qualifying session. Despite the run being his first time to drive the car in the wet, he sensationally topped the times by over three tenths of a second, putting them in good shape for Jacob’s run in the second part. However the track was now getting very close to being ready for slicks. Following a sighting lap on wets, Mathiassen called for slicks over the radio and dived into the pits. A rapid pitstop by the Century mechanics allowed Jacob to return to the track in record time. Securing the sixth fastest lap, their combined efforts placed them 11th overall and third in GT4 for Sunday’s race.
A drama free start to the day in Sunday morning’s 10-minute Warm-up set the crew up nicely for the afternoon’s main race of the day. Niall Murray was set to continue his run of firsts, as he started his first British GT race with his first rolling start. Showing no signs of inexperience, Murray got a superb getaway to remain in third by the end of the opening lap. However the scrap for position was intense, and after plenty of position swapping, it wasn’t long before Murray had a strong hold on third and was hunting down the #62 Aston Martin. Unable to match the straight-line speed of the Aston, Niall was trying to make his move in the corners. After a number of attempts to pass, Murray was forced onto the grass coming into Stirling Bend, dropping him to fourth in class initially, before the lost momentum allowed the HHC Motorsport & Lanan Racing cars to muscle their way past.
From there, Niall re-composed himself and on the turn of the hour, dived into the pits to hand the car over to teammate Mathiassen. A superb pitstop to fit a new set of Pirelli tyres and install the driver was completed with time to spare, and when Jacob returned to the track he had now moved back into the first of the podium places in third. However the team were about to be dealt a cruel blow when the officials deemed their pitstop release to be unsafe, handing down a 20 second stop and go penalty to be served immediately. Despite putting them out of podium contention, the Danish driver put his head down and set off on a charge to recover as much ground as possible. With some fantastic lap times, Jacob brought the #43 Ginetta G55 across the finish line eighth in GT4.
How the race went for car number 111:
Having barely worn the markings off their tyres at the last round in Spa-Francorchamps before a collision with the #66 Porsche that put them out of the event, Mike Simpson and Anna Walewska in the University of Bolton entered Ginetta G55 were hoping for a turn in their luck as they returned to the Kent circuit that had brought plenty of success for Walewska in 2016.
With a newly built Ginetta G55 GT4 following their Spa-Francorchamps dramas, the weekend got off to the best possible start with the fastest time in Free Practice one compliments of a stellar lap from Simpson. Working through a number of setup adjustments to find the best outcome for their new car, the pair set the sixth best lap in a faster Free Practice two, but crucially were gathering more and more information about their new car with every lap.
Qualifying however was set to have a very different outlook, with heavy rain coming over the Kent circuit in the early afternoon. First on track for the GT4 AM qualifying session was Anna Walewska who set the 12th fastest time in the evolving track conditions. With the track getting drier with every lap, the call to change tyres was difficult to commit to. Mike took over the car for the PRO session and remained on wets hoping to extract the most from his package. However the circuit was drying quicker than many expected and his best effort was good enough for ninth in the session, which combined with Walewska would see them starting from 12th among-st the GT4 runners on Sunday.
A superb lap in Sunday morning’s Warm-up from Anna Walewska set the team up well for the main race of the weekend. The University of Bolton driver was due to start the race in the first hour with Simpson taking them to the end. Walewska got a good start to remain with the GT4 main field throughout her stint before pitting inside the start of the second hour. However during her stint, Anna had developed a headlight issue that race officials insisted must be resolved during the mandatory pitstop. Rapidly carrying out the required works, Simpson was now at the wheel to take the car to the end. Following a solid stint, Mike brought the University of Bolton Ginetta G55 to the chequered flag sixth in the Pro-AM class.
Jacob Mathiassen – #43 Century Motorsport Ginetta G55 GT4:
“It’s really good to be back out with a new fast driver, I’m really glad that Niall [Murray] is onboard. He did a really good job especially in the race. It has been a bit difficult through the weekend with track time to get the setup just right, but all in all we had a car that was pretty good. All in all I’m happy with this result even though we got the penalty, so overall it’s been a good weekend.”
Niall Murray – #43 Century Motorsport Ginetta G55 GT4:
““Coming into this weekend was always going to be tricky as I only saw the car for the first time on Friday. Things didn’t start the best when our running in Free Practice One was cut short when the drive shaft let go, but in the next session we got some good mileage to work on the setup. Qualifying was great, the car was so good in the wet and then Jacob went for slicks in his session which was a good call and starting third was a great result for our efforts on Saturday. In the race, I was pretty happy with my stint. Early contact meant I had no right-side mirror, so it was hard when GT3 cars came to pass us, but I definitely managed to keep us in contention. Jacob did a great job in his stint and his lap times in the race show that. It was a shame about the penalty, but we know now we are capable of running towards the front. I feel confident that we can win in Donington, and that will be our aim.”
Anna Walewska – #111 Century Motorsport Ginetta G55 GT4:
“The weekend was good considering what happened in Spa. The boys and girls at Century have been flat out since then to get us here so I’m really happy that we’re back on track. The car is strong when we’re out on new tyres in the morning or in a shorter session, but then in the longer sessions like the two hour race the gremlins we’ve been having all year raise their ugly heads again and we can’t seem to match that pace. We’ve got some testing planned ahead of the last round in Donington, so hopefully everything will be sorted and we can finish the year on a high.”
Mike Simpson – #111 Century Motorsport Ginetta G55 GT4:
“It’s been a good weekend. Qualifying was a bit of a lottery for everybody and I made the wrong decision to stay out on wets so we were slightly out of position. In the race we had a headlight issue, the circuit breaker kept tripping so we had to have a slightly lengthy pitstop to get that sorted that lost us a lap which is a shame. But overall we’ve shown a lot more potential this weekend so hopefully between now and the last round we can get some testing in and finish the year on a high.”
Nathan Freke – Team Principal, Century Motorsport:
“We’ve definitely had more than our fair share of bad luck in GT4 this year but I must say a big well done to the boys and girls in the team for getting two new cars built up for this weekend. Niall [Murray] was a very welcome addition to the team, and he has been very impressive throughout, especially given his lack of experience. He gelled really well with Jacob and their pace was fantastic to see. Anna [Walewska] and Mike [Simpson] certainly started the weekend off on a very positive note with the fastest time in Free Practice One. The pace in GT4 this weekend was pretty rapid so we struggled a little to close the gap from there to the leaders. The result in the end for both cars was not what we deserved, but we will re-group over the break now and focus on returning to Donington to finish the year on a high.”
Donington Park, Derby, UK – Saturday 23rd & Sunday 24th September 2017