After Jack Mitchell and Dean Macdonald claimed victory at Spa-Francorchamps just two weekends ago, Century Motorsport left the Belgium-based circuit on a huge high, gaining the lead in the drivers GT4 Championship standings, along with becoming the team Championship leaders. Expectations for the team were becoming high after their three back-to-back wins but the competition is very strong and the current championship standings could easily change. The team headed to Brands Hatch at the weekend (4th – 5th August) for the penultimate round, where car 43 would need to remain in the pits for an extra 20-seconds due to the success penalty. Both cars would also have an extra 30-seconds due to being Silver/Silver pairings as opposed to Pro/Am pairings.
The first qualifying session got underway on Saturday afternoon. Macdonald and Green went out and both posted extremely incredible times in the sweltering heat, finishing with a P1 and P2 respectively, with just over one hundredth of a second separating them.
Mitchell and Tuck were out for the second qualifying session and to the team’s utter excitement, they both matched the result of their teammates, making it a 1-2 qualifying result overall for the team for the first time this season, making it a front-row lockout! Macdonald would start from pole position on the grid in car 43, with Green alongside him in car 42.
On Sunday afternoon, both BMW M4 GT4s lined up side-by-side on the grid, leading the GT4 pack, ready for the 2-hour race. Green managed to jump ahead of Macdonald during the first lap and both drivers then impressively held their positions, confidently controlling the race for the entirety of their stint. Unfortunately a safety car came out several laps before the drivers were due to take their pit stop and on this occasion the safety car worked against the team, closing the 4-second lead that Green had worked hard to build throughout his stint.
Still leading the race, car 42 dived into the pits during lap 32, where Green switched places with teammate Tuck. The 30-seconds extra for Silver/Silver drivers meant that Tuck left the pits a few places behind and had lost the lead to his Pro/Am competitors. He spent the remainder of his stint battling his way through the traffic and it was very much looking like he would be settling with fourth place. This clearly wasn’t what Tuck had in mind though and on the penultimate lap, setting his sights on a podium, he was ready to attack! He made a move at Pilgrim’s Drop to claim third place. On the run to the line, Tuck made another move, grabbing second place, which is where he crossed the line at the chequered flag. Less than 0.2s covered all three (second to fourth) at the finish.
Macdonald started the race from pole position, however the sister-BMW piloted by Green, overtook Macdonald during the first lap. Macdonald managed to hold his second place throughout his stint, not leaving any gaps for his competitors to make a pass. He handed the car over to Mitchell in the pits during lap 35. It was a long and painful wait in the pits due to the success penalty (extra 20-seconds) and when Mitchell exited the pits, they had fallen quite far behind, down to 10th position. Mitchell impressed with some flawless driving throughout his stint, storming his way through the traffic. He managed to bring the car up to seventh place, which is where he finished the race.
The final round is six weeks away, on 22nd – 23rd September, at Donington Park.
“It has been a fantastic weekend! We started off very well in FP1 – I was very strong on the pace, really happy with the car. We were in the top 2 or 3 in practice. We were quick in FP2 as well, and then quali – the front row lockout – great result for Century, great result for BMW as well. In the race, we had a good start, went from 2nd to 1st in turn 1, managed to keep round the outside of Dean and secured the position into Druids, then pushed nice and hard for the next hour. We had a couple of safety cars in there, which did scupper us a little bit. We had a great result – Tuck managed to get 2nd on the last lap and it finished the weekend off very well for us!”
“The weekend started well, we had great pace in practice and that translated to a front row lockout for the BMWs after qualifying. Ben Green and myself were only 0.02s behind the #43 car – so it could have gone either way! Both Ben [Green] and Deano [Macdonald] made really great starts and Ben managed to take the lead in the first lap. Unfortunately for the second race in a row, a safety car ruined our chances and took away both Ben and Deano’s advantage to the rest of the field meaning I came out after the pit stop in 6th, despite Ben coming in in P1. The car was on rails and I managed to make some places back to P4, and then finally caught the guys ahead and made the moves for P3 and P2 on the last 2 laps. It turned out to be an awesome end to a very hot and difficult race!”
“It has been a really good weekend with quite a few positives to take away. We didn’t really end up with the result we wanted (me and Dean) but you could see in qualifying that we had a really good outright pace against all the other teams. You could see it in the race as well, Dean did an amazing job to start with, he was into 2nd and managed to hold that all the way until the end of his stint but it was a shame about the safety car because that really held us back and with our 20-second penalty as well. I made up a couple of places but then for the rest it was quite a lonely race for me. It was a shame but it is still good points. It’s good to see that the sister car has jumped up to second in points and it feels a bit nicer that it is the sister car as opposed to one of the McLarens. It’s a long way until Donington, it’s a track that I like and I seem to be quick there so it is looking promising but we will have to wait and see.”
“Overall I think we had a very positive weekend after taking pole in qualifying and having strong race pace, we lost out at the start to the other car [sister-BMW, car 42] but we still managed to pull out a gap from the McLaren behind which was positive. It was a shame the safety car came out when it did as it really hurt us in the pit stops but Jack [Mitchell] did a really good job in the second stint to bring the car back in 7th and get some more points. Just want to thank everyone at Century and BMW for the very competitive car they gave me the whole weekend and I’m looking forward to the last round at Donington.”
Nathan Freke, Owner of Century Motorsport:
“What another fantastic weekend for team Century and BMW. Our pace this weekend was very strong and the drivers did an amazing job. To lock out the front row was a very special moment for us and I’m sure that without the safety car it would have been a 1-2 finish. Watching our advantage vanish after 2 safety cars we knew that it was going to be a tall order to get a good result, so to come away with a second place was amazing! I’m very proud of all the drivers and team. Everything is working very well right now and we are in a good position going into the last round. It’s still all to play for, and we will make sure we are on top of our game for it.”