After a difficult start to the year as the Ginetta Factory Team with a pair of heavily revised Ginetta G55 GT3’s, the team were looking forward to a fresh start to their programme at the championship’s biggest race of the year, the three hour Silverstone 500. With a new driver duo in the form of Charlie Robertson and Century regular Aleksander Schjerpen, it was a case of building on the learning to date and applying it for the best possible outcome during the tough 180 minute race.
With both drivers taking advantage of the chance to test on Friday, the track time provided a valuable opportunity to secure the best possible setup for Sunday’s race. Making some heavy improvements over night, Free Practice one was a much better reflection of how far the car has come with every lap, and gave both drivers the confidence to push the car on each tour.
Free Practice two highlighted the true potential of the car, Schjerpen made big improvements every time he got in the car as he navigated his way through the steep learning curve of driving a new car and making his GT3 debut. With Charlie taking over the car for the second part of the session, he lit up the timing screens and finished the session as the third fastest car on the grid, proving just how much progress Ginetta and Century have made with their flagship GT3 entry.
Buoyed by their Free Practice pace, confidence was high going into qualifying, Schjerpen first to take to the track for ten minutes. Finishing the session in tenth, he handed the car over to Robertson for the second and final part of qualifying, with both drivers best efforts deciding their ultimate starting position for Sunday’s encounter. The ultra-close PRO session saw just over one second separating the majority of the GT3 runners, Charlie’s best time placing him in ninth and with their two times combined, it would be tenth on the grid for the 180 minute test.
A clean run on Sunday morning in pre-race warm-up set the scene for a confident start to the race just after 1pm. Aleksander took to the track to start the race for the #19 duo and keen to ensure he was in it for the long run, got a clean start during the opening tour. Finding that he had plenty of pace in his car, Schjerpen was mounting a serious challenge for position against the experienced Lee Mowle in the Mercedes AMG, closing on the corners before the German marque would broaden the margin on Silverstone’s well known long straights.
Maintaining his tenth place starting position as he came into the pits just before the turn of the hour, Schjerpen handed over to Robertson for his first stint in the race. Rapidly exiting the pits, Charlie also found himself very much in a position to mix it with the championship regulars and show just how capable the Leeds produced package can be. Working his way up to seventh, he pitted on lap 51 to hand the car back to his Norwegian teammate for his second stint. However the team were about to be dealt a cruel blow, with pitlane officials deeming their stop to be less than the required minimum time, they were forced to return to the pits to serve a stop and go penalty. Quickly getting that out of the way, Schjerpen resumed the crew’s charge and well inside the final hour, dived into the pits from fifth for Charlie to complete the race.
Sadly however it wasn’t long before he was forced to make an unscheduled return to the pitlane, with a braking issue needing some attention. The fantastic Century crew quickly diagnosed and resolved the issue, allowing Robertson to return to the track and secure a tenth place finish from the championship’s longest and hardest race of the season.
Aleksander Schjerpen – #19 Century Motorsport Ginetta G55 GT3:
“All in all it’s been a really good weekend and very nice to be back with Century Motorsport driving the Ginetta G55 GT3. It’s been a steep learning curve that’s for sure, but I think we found some speed with every lap. The race started good, we were a little unlucky with the pitstop penalty and the braking issue, but we got to the finish line and I’m really happy with it. It was really nice to race with Charlie Robertson this weekend, he’s been really good to work with and help me settle into the car, so thank you to Century Motorsport for the opportunity, it’s been a great car to drive.”
Charlie Robertson – #19 Century Motorsport Ginetta G55 GT3:
“It’s been a constant upwards curve all weekend which was nice to see. It’s been great to have a weekend with so many positives for both Century and Ginetta. It really felt like I was having a race with some of the top guys going wheel to wheel was a lot of fun and I took a few risks which I think caught a few people by surprise. Overall I’m very happy with the weekend. Aleksander (Schjerpen) did a great job for his first weekend in the car and he’ll just get better and better, so I hope he does a few more as I’d love to carry on with him and continue developing the car to make it better and better. Hopefully from here on in we can keep improving and it will get better and better.”
Nathan Freke – Team Principal, Century Motorsport:
“It’s safe to say it’s been a tricky start to the year for us with our GT3 programme and certainly not what we were hoping for. It was a real shame that Parker Chase and Harry Gottsacker chose not to continue but I can understand their reasons and I’m grateful for their support. However it was great to have Aleksander back with us, he’s one of the Century stalwarts now after three successful years in GT4 with us so to give him his GT3 debut was nice. He improved massively all weekend as did the car with every lap it did. Everyone in the team did a mega job this weekend and the results sheets speak for themselves, this is a good car and a good package. We’ve made some big improvements now and Free Practice two was a clear indication that the Ginetta G55 GT3 means business so I’m really hoping to have both cars back out for the next round at Spa-Francorchamps to continue that upward trend.”
Rounds 7 & 8, Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium – Friday 6th & Saturday 7th July 2017