In what has been a difficult season for Century Motorsport in the British GT Championship, the team were hopeful of ending their season on a high at a venue that for many years has seen them right in the title hunt and regular visitors to the podium.
Mike Simpson and Anna Walewska have each shown their immense speed and talent at various points during the year but the duo were hoping to put that together and secure a top result for the University of Bolton entered Ginetta.
Newly formed partnership Niall Murray and Jacob Mathiassen narrowly missed out on making their podium debut last time out in Brands Hatch. The pair arrived at Donington Park with only one intention for the weekend – a podium!
How the race went for #43:
Having benefited from a recent test at Donington Park, Niall and Jacob were right with the leading pace throughout Free Practice on Saturday. Such was the pace however, that only a few tenths of a second was the difference between first and tenth in the class throughout the morning.
Working hard on the balance of their G55 along with working through a braking issue, the pair entered qualifying hoping to secure a strong starting position. However a red flag during Mathiassen’s session meant he only got the bare minimum of flying laps during the two part session. Murray’s qualifying had been going to plan as he rocketed up the timesheets, but traffic coming out of the final corner on his best effort ruined his chances of improving their position and they would start the race from 14th amongst the GT4 runners.
Having further improved their braking woes overnight, the young Silver/Silver duo were ready for the race. With Jacob taking the reins for the opening stint, the fired up Dane was taking no prisoners when the lights went out just after 13:30 on Sunday afternoon. Picking his way up the order, despite being spun by the GT3 Mercedes and costing him over 10 seconds in the process, he still managed to bring the car into the pits for Niall at the turn of the hour inside the top 10.
Taking over to complete the race, it wasn’t long before the Irishman resumed their charge when an epic battle with his former Ginetta Junior rival Jake Giddings developed. Swapping places for almost two laps, eventually it was Murray who took the advantage going onto the Melbourne loop to move into fifth with teammate Mike Simpson next on his list.
Charging down the #111 driver, inside the closing laps it emerged that the battle was about to be for the final podium place with the Black Bull Garage 59 McLaren suffering a puncture and ruling them out of contention. Closing down a gap that had been over seven seconds, Murray got good run on the University of Bolton Ginetta coming into the chicane and despite Simpson doing his best to hold the place, Niall was already alongside to complete the move as they rounded the Melbourne hairpin. Maintaining his pace over the final minutes of the race, Niall secured a well-earned podium for the #43 crew.
How the race went for #111:
The #111 University of Bolton pairing of Anna Walewska and Mike Simpson lead the way amongst the Century Motorsport GT4 runners throughout the day on Saturday. Having also had the benefit of some pre-event testing at the Derby circuit to aid their charge, a fired-up Walewska was putting in some of her best laps this season.
Going into qualifying, the pair were hoping to continue their charge and secure a strong starting position for Sunday’s final race of the year. However a red-flag stoppage during the middle of Anna’s session before she had a chance to extract the best from her car meant the resumption of the session would be a high pressure shoot out over only a handful of laps. When Simpson took over the car for his part in qualifying, a lack of rear grip made it hard to extract the maximum speed from his University of Bolton Ginetta and the pair were set to start Sunday’s race from 13th amongst the GT4 runners.
Following a drama-free run in Sunday morning’s Warm-up, it was down to business just after 13:30 on Sunday afternoon as Anna Walewska started the final race of the 2017 season. Instantly Walewska was on a charge and working her way up the order. Setting a good pace amongst her fellow AM drivers, when the pitstop window opened, Anna was now inside the top 10.
Diving into the pits just past the turn of the hour, a superbly executed pitstop placed Mike in the car and the battle resumed. Quickly lighting up the timing screens, the University of Bolton Ginetta was setting a quick pace by the midpoint of his stint, Simpson was now into the top five in GT4.
However he was having to keep one eye in his mirrors with teammate Niall Murray rapidly closing in as Mike’s tyres began to lose their edge. Carefully managing the gap, he was powerless against his teammate coming into the Melbourne loop with two laps to go. Mike continued to push to the end and brought the University of Bolton Ginetta G55 to the chequered flag fourth in GT4.
Anna Walewska – #111 Century Motorsport Ginetta G55 GT4:
“Such a great end to the season to finish second in class and fourth overall. Mike was hanging on to a podium finish right until the last few laps but the car was too loose to defend the position. I had a super stint climbing up the order and keeping out of trouble knowing ultra consistency was the key to our strategy. We deserved that result for the hard working University of Bolton students that have been with us all season and the team. My thanks to our sponsors University of Bolton, my team mate Mike Simpson and Century Motorsport for superb job this season.”
Mike Simpson – #111 Century Motorsport Ginetta G55 GT4:
“Very strong weekend for the team, the BOP prevented us qualifying further up the grid but the race pace of both cars played us into contention. I used up too much of the Tyres chasing the lead pack and lost some pace in the last 15 minutes. Bitterly disappointed not to get a podium for Anna and the University of Bolton car but fourth overall and second in class was a nice way to finish.”
Niall Murray – #43 Century Motorsport Ginetta G55 GT4:
“I’m absolutely over the moon to be on the podium here at one of my favourite circuits. We knew after Brands that we could be strong here. Qualifying didn’t really go to plan for us, but Jacob did a great stint at the start of the race and then in the second half the car was great and allowed me to push with every lap. I’ve enjoyed my two outings in the British GT Championship and it’s definitely given me something to think about in the off season. A big thank you to everyone at Century Motorsport for having me and to my sponsors for helping to make this happen including Murray Motorsport and CL Brakes.”
Jacob Mathiassen – #43 Century Motorsport Ginetta G55 GT4:
“What a great feeling to finally get the result that we all deserve. It’s been a really difficult year so it’s such a great feeling. After qualifying, we were a little bit disappointed, but for the race we managed to find some pace in the car and in me. In the race, Niall and I were right up there as one of the fastest Ginetta’s which was great. Thank you to all the guys at Century, this has been a great weekend and a great way to finish the year.”
Nathan Freke – Team Principal, Century Motorsport:
“I think it’s safe to say we’ve really had our fair share of bad luck this season, so at this stage everyone in the team needed and deserved a good result. Overall, both of our crews did a mega job this weekend. Everyone gave 110% and lap times were right up there across our four drivers which was great. Obviously it was a nervous last couple of laps seeing our inter-team battle play out for the final podium place, but credit to both drivers it was clean and fair and it’s great to taste some champagne this season. Now it’s time to focus on our plans to be back fighting for the title in 2018, watch this space…”