Century Motorsport travelled to Portugal last weekend to embark on an exciting new chapter in the team’s history, making their first foray into prototype sportscar racing at the final round of the 2016 VdeV Championship in Estoril.
Fielding a strong new line-up for the momentous occasion, the multiple race and championship winning outfit welcomed the services of Ben Green, Euan McKay and Rik Breukers, ensuring the team had a good blend of youth, speed and experience.
The team’s on-track debut came on Friday morning with the first of three free practice sessions. With the exception of Rik Breukers who had LMP3 experience from the final European Le Mans Series race just a couple of weeks previous, it was a voyage of discovery for the rest of the crew. However this lack of experience certainly didn’t show from the outside, all three drivers putting on a fine display and the team clearly getting up to speed with their new Ginetta G57-P2 very quickly. Through the day and night running, the team were placing themselves well inside the top five overall, giving them plenty of confidence ahead of Saturday morning’s qualifying.
Run over an aggregate of two drivers times added together, Euan McKay and Rik Breukers were selected to take care of qualifying duties. Taking to a wet Estoril circuit, Euan lit up the timing screens, initially setting the fastest time overall before slipping to second as he brought the car into the pits for Rik to take over. Just as he started into his first flying lap, Breukers was forced to take some avoiding action into the first corner, cruelly sending him across the gravel and into the barriers, wiping out any chance of a good starting position for the afternoon’s race.
With their Ginetta G57-P2 now fully repaired, starting from the back of the field for the six hour race on a heavily soaked track, Euan McKay got proceedings off to a superb start. Communication between the car and the pitwall became a challenge when the car’s onboard radio became water damaged. Despite the dramas around him, Euan put in a faultless stint as one of the fastest cars on circuit for the most part of his run before pitting to hand over to Ben Green for his first race stint. With the track rapidly drying out, Ben opted for slick tyres and despite a brief trip to the gravel, got his car to work very well in the improving conditions. After one hour in the car, now it was over to the experienced Rik Breukers to continue the team’s charge up the order. In the car for one of the most challenging stints of the race with the track continuing to dry out and the sun starting to set impeding his visibility, Rik showed the strength of his endurance experience to put in a superb sint over the course of his two-hour run, taking the car into the pits just into the final hour and now inside the top five.
Taking over for the final stint in the dark, Ben Green complimented the efforts of the whole team up to that point with a superb maiden prototype stint in the dark to take the chequered flag in third place overall.
Ben Green – #99 Century Motorsport Ginetta G57-P2:
“I had a great weekend! The team was fantastic, learning the car every session. The conditions were changing all the time but ultimately I felt the pace was there. We started from the back and had to work through the field with great driving from Euan in the first stint. Rik also drove really well and I brought the car home in the final stint. Thanks again to Century Motorsport and to M25 Business Centre, Jelf Insurance, Justot and Duncan Phillip for their support! A big thanks also go to Ginetta and Ewan Baldry for sorting out the drive this weekend and letting me loose in one of their top quality cars!”
Rik Breukers – #99 Century Motorsport Ginetta G57-P2:
“For me it was a really exciting weekend and a great experience to drive in this car. I was really happy with the team they did a fantastic job on the car the whole weekend. I think our line-up was really strong I was really happy with my teammates as we were all around the same speed. We can be happy with a P3 but I think there was even more potential. Our strategy wasn’t perfect and we had problems with the windscreen, but in general I had a great weekend and I really enjoyed racing with this team in this car!”
Euan McKay – #99 Century Motorsport Ginetta G57-P2:
“First of all, to come away with a podium despite the lack of experience both from the team and the drivers was a great achievement, and testament to the hard-working nature of the team. Everyone was easy to get on with and it was apparent that they too had a determination to succeed. The race didn’t necessarily go to plan but that was perhaps to be expected given the task we all faced. It was always going to be tough competing against the teams that had been racing all year, but I believe that Century proved themselves very capable of fighting at the front.”
Nathan Freke – Team Principal, Century Motorsport:
“What an amazing first experience of running prototypes. We got the car a week before hand, learnt it and headed off to Estoril. It was hard work, but the car never missed a beat all weekend. The guys worked so hard and we were rewarded with a third place finish after six hours of racing. The race itself was stressful due to the radio getting wet and having almost no communication with the car, so it made things extremely hard! The drivers all put in absolutely fantastic efforts and on more than a few occasions we were lapping as the fastest car on track. They were all really great guys to work with, and made the weekend a pleasure. Now it’s a quick turn around and pack the car up into a container to head to Dubai for the prototype race in January. If anyone is interested in participating with us, please get in touch! Finally, a credit to Ginetta for producing what is nothing short of a work of art. The car is fabulous and the performance is undeniable. Here’s to more prototype races, and more trophies!!”