Joining last years class winner Nathan Freke for the race, were Dubai rookies Ben Green and Jack Mitchell, along with Endurance Racing rookie Aiden Moffat. Under the experienced guidance of Freke, the trio of young drivers have all proven their talent on track in various formulae including the Ginetta GT4 Supercup, British GT and the British Touring Car Championship, but Dubai would present a real test of their speed and consistency over a much longer distance.
However it would become clear from the off that the new quartet were going to be a force to be reckoned with, topping the timesheets in the opening practice session of the week. From there, the team would remain inside the top three right up to qualifying, securing their place on the inside of the second row of GT4 cars for Friday afternoon’s race start.
Jack Mitchell got the race underway as the lights went out just after 14:00 local time on Friday afternoon. The grid of over 100 cars stormed into the first corner, however Mitchell held his ground and completed the opening stint with ease. Aiden Moffat was next on-board the #229 Ginetta G55 for his Endurance racing debut and during his stint, would move into the class lead. The British Touring Car front runner was looking like a real natural in the quite alternative surroundings of Endurance racing.
From there it was Ben Green’s turn to take over the lead and he too would complete a superb stint before last in the opening rotation of drivers would be Nathan Freke, taking to the track now in fully dark conditions. Towards the end of Freke’s stint the team were dealt a blow to their comfortable race lead. Contact from another car on track sent Nathan into the pits early to repair a broken rear track-rod and bent front upright. The damage would equate to almost five laps down on the new class leaders, but the stellar work of the team in the garage prevented it from being much worse.
Having seen it all before, the team gathered themselves up and vowed to push on from there. Jack Mitchell was now back on board for his second stint in the race and lit up the track to move back up the order. After 15 hours of racing and all drivers having each completed their second stint, the crew was now up to fourth in class and showing no signs of lifting off.
Aiden Moffat started the third and final rotation of drivers, and along with Nathan and Ben, the crew continued to be one of the fastest cars on track. However it was inside final hour where the emotional roller-coaster would really start with Jack Mitchell now at the wheel. As the clock turned to 13:00 local time, Jack was now fifth in class but mounting a serious challenge for fourth. As he started to get within striking distance, the pitwall had calculated that one of the crews ahead would go over their driving time, so moving to fourth could in turn earn them promotion onto the podium. But in a dramatic twist inside the last 30 minutes, the CWS Ginetta in P2 encountered technical issues and was forced into the pits for repairs, in-turn promoting Mitchell to fourth. Next it was the turn of the Code 60 flags to add to the drama and halt Jack’s charge for third. Quickly however sadness turned to elation, as the cause of the Code 60 was the second in class Porsche retiring at the first corner, which now put the crew into third coming into the final ten minutes. With the GDL Porsche in front looking like it had a driving time penalty hanging over them, Jack confidently took the car to the finish. Securing third in class on the timing screens, the team were as predicted, promoted to second place ahead of the podium celebrations, a remarkable result for the foursome of largely Dubai rookies.
Nathan Freke – #229 Century Motorsport Ginetta G55 GT4:
“Well! What a race that was. It wasn’t the smoothest in the world, but we never gave up, and when a podium never looked possible, Lady Luck shone down on us and we ended up with second place in the Dubai 24 Hours. I’m so proud of all involved in Century Motorsport for their dedication to keeping the car running well and huge credit to Aiden Moffat, Ben Green and Jack Mitchell for being super fast and super professional.”
Ben Green – #229 Century Motorsport Ginetta G55 GT4:
“I had a fantastic weekend with Century Motorsport, my second endurance race with the team. Through all the practice sessions we showed our pace was strong and carried this into the race. Contact with another car while leading the race cost us a lot of time but we fought back to recover as much time as possible. Both the team and I were very happy and proud of the final result!”
Jack Mitchell – #229 Century Motorsport Ginetta G55 GT4:
“Overall the race went very well, all of us drove our best and we worked well as a team throughout the 24 hours. Obviously there was a few ups and downs with us loosing over 25 minutes in the pit stop due to a crash which was unavoidable, but we managed to work our way back up and never gave up. The race was a big experience for me and I feel I’ve come out a better driver with a lot more knowledge about endurance racing itself, which is where I aim to be in the future. I can’t thank the guys at Century Motorsport enough for giving me the car to do well and getting us on that podium.”
Clive Freke – Team Principal, Century Motorsport:
“This has been a great week for the team in only our second time to participate in Dubai. Nathan along with our three new drivers performed very well all week and our podium is down to our ‘never give up’ attitude which extended right across the team to ensure we got the results we deserved. On behalf of the team I’d like to congratulate Nathan, Ben, Aiden and Jack on the result and a special thanks to the boys in the garage who worked hard all week to ensure we got the maximum from this event.”