Century Motorsport made their 2013 debut visit to Nurburg’s Nordschleife circuit for the latest round of the VLN series with team newcomers Paul Wilson and Stuart Leonard. The experienced Catheram R300 Championship pair were set for a new challenge as they got behind the wheel of a Ginetta G50 for the four hour endurance event.
The drama began early in the week however as the teams British GT4 spec car driven to a double victory at Oulton Park recently in the hands of Declan Jones and Zoe Wenham suffered engine failure at a test day early in the week. Now the team faced a race a against the clock before they even left their base at Fenny Compton to prepare their less powerful G50 GT4 car affectionately known as ‘Orange Pearl’ in time for a planned acclimatisation test in SPA on Thursday. Sure enough, the Century Motorsport team showed that no challenge is to big for them and the they arrived on time at SPA for Thursday’s planned test which all went according to plan. From there, it was off to the Nordschleife leaving behind 25 degree heat to be greeted with two degree cold and wet weather for their two hour evening test session. Despite challenging conditions to say the least, both drivers completed the session obtaining good mileage and experience leaving them confident ahead of Saturday’s qualifying.
The rain and poor weather was set to continue on Saturday morning for qualifying with Paul electing to go on track first. Two fantastic laps later he brought the car into the pits sitting in 40th position on the grid before handing over to Stuart Leonard for his stint. The tricky Nurburgring conditions proved a little more of a challenge for Leonard who was just short of Wilson’s pace. However by the close of the session the pair was set to line up 60th on a grid of 230 cars in total for Saturday afternoon’s four-hour endurance thriller.
Stuart Leonard started the race for Century Motorsport and had a great sequence of opening laps to hold his 60th position. Cruelly his good run was hampered with a spin after 40 minutes where he lodged the car on a kerb and lost almost five minutes trying to recover the car. However once back on the track and despite now running in 135th position, the pair drove flawlessly and by the chequered flag had made their way back up to finish in 99th position, a fantastic result for the VLN rookie pair.
Speaking after the event, Century Motorsport Team Principal Nathan Freke highlighted the good result after a stressful week, “It’s been a very stressful and busy week for the team. Being forced to change cars at the 11th hour was far from ideal but everyone has done a fantastic job and our thanks must go to both Paul and Stuart who were not only very understanding of the situation, but made the very best use of the tools we provided them. All in all we’ve enjoyed the weekend taking part in a race like no other we’ve been in before. This is certainly only the beginning of VLN competition for Century Motorsport and our aim is to return again for further races in July and October and would encourage anyone interested in taking on this unique challenge to get in touch with us today.”
The busy Century Motorsport schedule continues this weekend as James Birch returns behind the wheel of theplayer.co.uk supported Ginetta G55 in rounds 7, 8 and 9 of the Ginetta GT Supercup at Thruxton while the dominant pairing of Declan Jones and Zoe Wenham aim to continue their unbeaten run of victories in British GT4 at Rockingham.