After a mixed weekend last time out at Oulton Park for Century Motorsport’s British GT4 duo, that saw the team reduced to just one car after Free Practice one following an on-track incident for Stephen Fresle in the #43 Ginetta, the team were hoping they could rekindle the form shown from 2016 that saw Nathan Freke and Anna Walewska take the GT4 win on the road before a controversial post-race penalty altered the result.
Much to the delight of the team, Fresle had recovered from his minor injuries and re-joined teammate Jacob Mathiassen for what would effectively now become their debut in the championship. In the #111 side of the garage, a last minute call forced Mike Simpson to miss the event and he was replaced by endurance racing rookie George Gamble to race along side the University of Bolton’s Anna Walewska.
It was a good start to the weekend in Free Practice on Saturday morning. Having briefly seen his talent at Oulton Park, Jacob Mathiassen was once again showing his merit, setting times well inside the window of the leaders. A front runner in this years Ginetta GT4 Supercup, George Gamble was showing no signs of being in new surroundings, with his best effort only marginally shy of his experienced teammate. Stephen Fresle and Anna Walewska were both happy with their performances during the morning at the wheel of their Ginetta’s and keen to get the afternoon’s Qualifying under way.
Two two-part qualifying session would see both drivers go on track for 10 minutes each, with the crew’s combined best laps deciding their starting position for the race. Walewksa and Fresle took part in the first session and set the 13th and 16th best times respectively. Next out to complete the day’s British GT action was Mathiassen and Gamble. The second session for PRO drivers was very close, with one second separating the top 12. Mathiassen held the upper hand for Century, with the eighth fastest time, closely followed by Gamble who set an impressive 11th best time in his first ever British GT qualifying session.
Ahead of the race, the final starting positions had been calculated. Anna Walewska would lead the way for Century on the grid, starting from P24 with Fresle close behind in P27. Both drivers got a good start as the lights went out just after 1pm. Anna was hoping she could repeat her strong 2016 performance to rocket up the order during her stint. Fresle fell back slightly at the start, but settling into a good groove he too started to make his way back up the order. A short trip into the Rockingham gravel trap briefly hindered his charge, however it didn’t take him long to recover and continue in the race.
Completing her fantastic opening stint, Walewska pitted her car just inside the start of the second hour. Handing the car over to George Gamble just off the Pro-AM podium, it didn’t take the AMIGO’s sponsored driver long to put that right. However the University of Bolton Ginetta’s luck was about to run out, two further trips to the pits to repair a faulty headlight and a puncture would put pay to their hopes of securing their desired result.
Just after the one hour mark, Stephen Fresle dived into the pits to hand the car over to the rapid Jacob Mathiassen for his first British GT race stint of the year. Instantly the Dane was lighting up the timing screens as he set about making the most of his run. Setting the eighth fastest lap time during his run, Mathiassen brought the car to the end to complete his first race of the year.
Anna Walewska – #111 Century Motorsport Ginetta G55 GT4:
“Obviously coming into the weekend it was a bit of a challenge to have a new teammate, but George performed really well and was quick out of the box so I was really pleased with that. At the beginning of the race I had great pace, I was really happy with my stint from right from the start. I handed the car over P4 in Pro-AM and from there George took over the car after a great pitstop from the Century boys. From there we just had some bad luck with the light issue and the puncture as George’s pace was brilliant so I guess it was a race of what could have been. But hopefully we can carry that pace into Snetterton and get a good result there.”
George Gamble – #111 Century Motorsport Ginetta G55 GT4:
“For me its been a really really great experience that I’m very grateful for. I know it’s all been last minute, but to be fair in the first half of the race it was all going very well and there was a chance of a Pro-AM win or podium at least until we got the puncture. But that’s just one of those things. Our pace was blinding and the later the race went on the quicker we got which was good. Big thanks to Century, Amigos and Ginetta for making it all happen. Full credit to Anna, she’s been a really helpful team mate talking me through all the processes and made it a lot easier for me which was great. It’s been a steep learning curve but I’ve taken a lot from it.”
Jacob Mathiassen – #43 Century Motorsport Ginetta G55 GT4:
“All in all I’m quite satisfied with this weekend. We struggled a little with the setup during practice. But by the time we got to the Warm-up session we found the setup we wanted and the car felt great during my stint in the race. It’s been a bit difficult over the weekend as the track kept changing, but overall I was very happy with my pace out there and now I’m looking forward to Snetterton.”
Stephen Fresle – #43 Century Motorsport Ginetta G55 GT4:
“It was a big bonus to get through free practice one unscathed! So everything after that was a bonus. It was a bit difficult in Free Practice two as I think we went the wrong way with the setup a little, but the boys got that sorted for Qualifying and we found some good time there. In the race, it was very slippery out there and generally very difficult but overall it was good fun and I was happy to be back out racing again.
Jim Rutledge – Team Manager, Century Motorsport:
“It was great to have both of our GT4 cars running with us this weekend and in particular to see Stephen back in the car after his Oulton Park accident. George Gamble was a very welcome addition to the team, standing in for Mike at the 11th hour and what a fantastic job he did throughout, despite the enormity of the challenge. Jacob showed his talent throughout and as they adjust to British GT, I think we will see more and more from them as the season goes on. Anna had a great stint in the race but we just had some rotten luck during George’s stint that robbed us of a great result for them. The main thing is our two cars were on the pace and Snetterton should be very interesting.”
Rounds 4 & 5, Snetterton 300, Norwich, UK – Saturday 27th & Sunday 28th May 2017.